100 World Class South Africans: Local heroes take a bow

2014-05-04 15:00

In World Class South Africans, we celebrate our success stories, the heroes, mavericks, pioneers, groundbreakers, thought leaders, and originals who raise the bar, set the standard and teach us that icons are ordinary people who defy the impossible to reach their potential.

Rashid Lombard

The grand master of groove

“Having the vision is one thing – having the durability, flexibility and strength to sustain it, year in year out, recession or bull markets aside, staging a bigger and better inter-national city festival requires untold mettle, soul, spirit and energy to boot,” says Lombard, the man behind the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the fourth biggest on the planet.

Just more than two decades ago, Lombard could be found behind a camera capturing images of the tumultuous last kicks of apartheid for international news agencies and TV channels. But his true desire had always been to bring about social change through the arts.

So he started ESP Afrika and collaborated with Dutch company Mojo Concerts to launch the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town in 2000. In 2005, it came into its own as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, attracting a multinational audience and world-famous acts.

He’s also always given equal billing to local acts, boosting many careers. In 2010, the festival contri-buted some R740?million to GDP.

Anant Singh

Our very own movie mogul

He started producing films in 1984 with A Place of Weeping, the first anti-apartheid film made in this country. Today he is the man behind Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

Other important local stories he’s brought to the big screen include Sarafina! (1992), Cry, the Beloved Country (1995) and Yesterday (2004), South Africa’s first Oscar-nominated film.

Singh has also picked up a few gongs, including a World Visionary Award from the Palm Beach International Film Festival in 2007 and a WEF Crystal Award, for his contribution to cinema and socially conscious films.

Last month, he won an Advancing Social Justice Through Film Award from New York-based Shared Interest. For 30 years, Singh has raised finance for the local industry. He is well connected internationally, is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the US, is chairperson of the Cape Town Film Studios and new radio station Smile 90.4FM.

Now he has set his sights on establishing a Durban film studio.

Anya van der Merwe

Different by design

The accolades started in 1984 when she took third place in a UK competition judged by Sir Norman Foster. In 1987, Van der Merwe had the winning design for a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Since returning from London and co-founding Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects, she’s built an impressive portfolio, including the Cape Town International Convention Centre, De Beers’ headquarters in Joburg and Silo No 1, one of Africa’s most advanced “ecointelligent” buildings.

The Tree House on the slopes of Table Mountain won the World Architecture Award for best building Africa/Middle East in 2001 and the Highveldt House in the Cradle of Humankind won the best new global design in 2009.

But it’s the prize given to Van der Merwe?–?in recognition of her 25-year contribution to the industry and education (as a UCT professor) that’s most laudable.

In a ceremony in Washington in May 2012, she was made an honorary fellow of the prestigious American Institute of Architects?–?one of a few women and the only South African to get this honour.

» This series is supported by Play Your Part, which is a nationwide campaign to inspire and celebrate active citizenship. Each South African is encouraged to offer their time, money, skills or goods to make a collective difference to the lives of those in their communities. Start following @PlayYourPart

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