Photographer Adrian Steirn had a dream: to capture one of the world's greatest icons, Nelson Mandela, on film. His dream came true and turned into a vision to influence the future of our youth. That vision is the 21 Icons project.21 Icons South Africa combines photographic portraits and television short films in a captivating series that shares the inspiring stories of South Africans who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their fields of endeavour. These 21 icons have captured the global imagination with their dignity, humanity, and selfless struggle for a better world.
In the words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, as told to Steirn, “Why is it that we admire people like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? The answer must be that it is because they are good.” This simple yet profound attribute found in these icons, Steirn thought, could be used to inspire others to become citizens and leaders of tomorrow.
In the past two years, through 21 Icons, Steirn has captured prized pictures and video of 21 iconic South Africans, including Tutu, Professor Phillip Tobias, Nadine Gordimer, Ahmed Kathrada, and many more. The band of storytellers at 21 Icons does whatever it takes to get that one special picture that tells the story of an icon's incredible life.
Through the highly personal short films and iconic photographic portraits of individuals such as Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, Desmond Tutu, Sophia Williams De Bruyn and Kumi Naidoo, 21 Icons aims to highlight the lives and work of men and women who have shaped our nation and the world beyond. The short films capture the intimate, often poignant conversations between Steirn and the icons.
We at Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) are proud to be a part of this inspirational project. Our pride is drawn from our long association with Nelson Mandela, which began when our East London employees hand-built a red S-Class for him upon his release from prison in 1990. When the man himself turned 90 in 2008, we gifted him with the best S-Class ever built - once again at our East London manufacturing plant.
Inspiring the leaders of tomorrow