21 Icons featuring Francios Pienaar


Yet another episode of ’21 Icons’ will be flighted on 31 August 2014 at 20h27 on SABC3. This is a show that seeks to celebrate the country’s most iconic and heroic individuals. It features those who at some point in our history made a significant impact in the lives of fellow South Africans.

On this episode, we are given a glimpse into the mind of former Springbok rugby player and captain, Francois Pienaar. Francois was the captain when South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hardly a year after South Africa’s first black president was elected, the late former President Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was the first black president and this was a monumental event that symbolised a united nation, as he (Nelson) joined the team on the field wearing the official green rugby jersey at the time.

Pienaar seems slightly taken aback by the impact that South Africa’s World Cup triumph had on the country. He explains to Steirn: “I think it was only after the tournament that I realised that it was so much more than just another sporting event. Certainly during the tournament I had a very good sense that something special was happening in our country. It was amazing to be served breakfast in the hotel by a black lady who said, “You must eat enough because tomorrow you guys are playing Australia”. It struck me that, firstly, she knew who we were playing against and, secondly, she was genuinely concerned that I would have enough to eat and be ready to play.”

21 ICONS South Africa is a concept that honours those who have made an impact socially whether through their career endevours or through their devotion to better the lives of their fellow citizens. This is an annual project that combines fine-art, photography, written narrative and a short film. The objective is not only to highlight the work that has been done by those who are featured but also to inform and inspire the following generations about what it takes in order to enforce change and development in a society.

Renowned filmmaker and photographer Adrian Steirn interviews Francois Pienaar as he opens up about his views on Sports and it’s social impact. He also speaks about his relationship with former president the late Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela and his family became well acquainted with Francois and his family and over the years they formed quite a strong bond.

Francois is a strong believer in the effect that sports has on a nation, its ability to break barriers and unite people irrespective of their race or religion. “Whenever there’s a World Cup, whether it’s for soccer, rugby, cricket or the Olympic Games, when an athlete participates, he or she runs for every person in the country. That’s so powerful. It makes people proud, it makes them stand up and take notice of hard work and respect, dignity, selflessness, all those things that go into sport. It’s a very powerful vehicle,” he says.