Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has been named as the 2018 South African of the Year.
The award was decided by the South African public via a poll. The South African of the Year criteria is simple: the man or woman who wins is someone who, through a phenomenal or uplifting achievement, has made you feel proudly South African.
After assessing the criteria for potential South African of the Year nominees and winners, a panel of proud South Africans came up with names that were presented to the public in the South African of the Year poll.
Kolisi, the fourth official South African of the year since the awards poll was started, adds his name to an illustrious list of former winners.
In 2015 Trevor Noah walked away with the title after making global headlines when he became the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. The 2016 award went to Wayde van Niekerk when he not only won the gold medal in the 400 metres at the Rio Olympic Games but did so in a world record time.
Last year saw the 2017 South African of the Year title go to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng having proven to be a beacon of morality that provides a light for others to follow and being consistent in choosing what is right and lawful, demonstrating commitment to serving the people of South Africa above all.
Voters are encouraged to vote for their South African of the Year ahead of the Heritage Day public holiday on 24 September every year. After thousands of votes were cast over the past few days, we now have a winner.
The initial short list consisted of four super South Africans. The list was then narrowed down to two for the final round of voting.
The four nominees were Kolisi, reigning Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, the Blitzboks – who won The World Rugby Sevens Series – and tennis ace Kevin Anderson who stunned the nation with his history making 26-24 longest ever Grand Slam semi-final fifth set Wimbledon victory, which made him the first South African to reach the prestigious grass court final in 97 years. (South African-born Kevin Curran reached the final in 1985, but by that stage of his career he was representing the United States).
After the first round of voting, Anderson and the Blitzboks were eliminated, leaving Kolisi and Nel-Peters to battle it out for the honour.
Ultimately, after a week of voting, it was Siya Kolisi who South Africans favoured for the title with 76 percent of the vote.
In nominating Kolisi as a South African of the Year candidate, the judges wrote that, “When Siya Kolisi was named as the Springbok captain earlier this year, the announcement brought genuine thrill and excitement to the rugby-mad nation. Finally, here was a new, fresh face to represent the Boks. After years of stagnation, Kolisi represented an uplifting change to the Green and Gold, and in his proud and humble manner, has lead the team with aplomb in 2018. In South Africa’s most recent Test, his calm leadership was instrumental in helping his side claim their first away victory over New Zealand in nine years.”
It’s little wonder then that he was the runaway winner.
The South African of the Year award is now in its fourth year and aims to provide South Africans with a little extra gees over the Heritage Day public holiday, and something to think about late in the year.
“Our country South Africa is nothing without its people and this award serves to highlight some of the exceptional individuals that make our country the wonderful place it is” says Jan Scannell, the man behind the National Braai Day initiative and the South African of the Year awards.
“This year, as always seems to be the case in South Africa, we have had impressive ups and downs. The South African of the Year’s intention is for us to focus on the ups and to recall the positive effect that South African teams or individuals have had on the country. Clearly the Siya Kolisi effect has resonated with the South African of the Year voters in 2018!”
All four of the original 2018 candidates are truly exceptional South Africans, and their achievements should make us all feel proud to be South African. “Every nominee has raised the spirits of the country at some stage throughout this year, and that is something to be positive about. In the years to come, I predict that we will have even more to be positive about in this great country of ours, the greatest country in the world!”
The “South African of the Year” is a registered trademark, of which the National Braai Day initiative is the legal custodian. In tune with all activities of the National Braai Day initiative, South African of the Year is being run as a non-profit project with the sole purpose of enhancing the Heritage Day public holiday as South Africa’s national day of celebration.