In 1967 Katharine Hepburn became the first person to win three Academy Awards, while in San Francisco Rolling Stone magazine was being launched with a striking image of Yoko Ono and John Lennon on the cover. And it was in the same year that Barclays Bank would unveil the first automated teller machine in London. 50, it would appear, is not just a monumental milestone but is also a time when most changemakers stamp their mark in the world.
As we celebrate our 50th edition, we look at some of the most significant milestones that South Africans have been a part of or indeed created. From Nando’s’ poignant Washington DC #EveryoneIsWelcome social media campaign that was a reaction to Donald Trump’s widely contested immigration laws during his first month in office, to performing the world’s first human to human heart transplant, South Africa’s spirit of ubuntu and fierceness continues to make ripples the world over.
Steve Biko – 40th anniversary of his death
“Merely by describing yourself as black you have started on a road towards emancipation, you have committed yourself to fight against all forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being,” the late Steve Bantu Biko wrote about the ideals of black consciousness in his book, I Write What I Like. A socialist and anti-apartheid activist, Biko was behind the Black Consciousness Movement in the 60s and 70s. Sadly, after being interrogated, shackled and beaten by the South African police, the father of five died from a brain haemorrhage on 12 September 1977. Portrayed by Oscar winner Denzel Washington in 1987’s Cry Freedom, he was the inspiration behind singer Simphiwe Dana’s 2006 album The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street. In 2016, on what would’ve been Biko’s 70th birthday, Google dedicated a Doodle to the father of the Black Consciousness Movement.
Chris Barnard – 50 years since the first heart transplant
It’s been 50 years since doctor Chris Barnard made history in December 1967. But two months prior he had made sure that he was already in the record books by performing the second kidney transplant in the world. After 25-year-old Denise Darvall from Beaufort West (which is incidentally where Barnard was born) died from a head injury after a car accident, her family agreed to donate her heart and kidneys to 54-year-old Louis Washkansky, who was diabetic with a debilitating heart condition. Performing the operation alongside his brother Marcus and a team of 30 that he’d worked with for a decade, Barnard (aged 45 at the time) was responsible for the first human to human heart transplant in the world at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town. Washkansky, who was able to talk to his family post operation before pneumonia set in, only lived for 18 days (at the time it was the longest a human being had stayed alive after undergoing a heart transplant). The fame and luxuries that followed as a result of this groundbreaking feat seemed to cost Barnard his first marriage (he was married three times), and he’s quoted as saying that he “feasted on the apples that fell into his lap, and even ate until the tree was stripped of all its fruit.” Later he would be named a professor emeritus and the Foreshore Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital is named in his honour.
South Africa’s spirit of ubuntu and fierceness continues to make ripples the world over.
Pick n Pay – 50 years since its launch
Sometimes being caught between a rock and a hard place can produce incredible results. When Raymond Ackerman was retrenched from his job at Checkers he had no clue that 50 years later he would be responsible for creating South Africa’s second largest supermarket. Currently Ackerman’s eldest son, Gareth, is the chair of the company. Ackerman, who retired as the company’s executive chairman in 2014, bought the Cape Town supermarket from Lithuanian national, Jack Goldin. In 2010 Pick n Pay had to abandon its expansion into Australia after it had acquired Franklins and Fresco in 2001. The company chose instead to focus its strategy on expansion in southern Africa. Now Pick n Pay, which redesigned its logo in 2007 (and involved removing the precarious apostrophe from its name), has branches in Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Mauritius. When asked what it took to build the company, Ackerman said “10 percent capital and 90 percent grit.”
Nando’s – 30 years since SA’s biggest chicken restaurant was founded
Singapore, Washington DC, Bangladesh, Ireland, Australia… and so the list goes on of the 1 000 outlets in 35 countries that have Nando’s branches. But it all started 30 years ago in South Africa when audio engineer Fernando Duarte (whom the restaurant is named after) took his entrepreneur friend Robert Bronzin to lunch at a Portuguese restaurant called Chickenland, and the two ended up buying the business. They changed the name and two years later there were three branches in Joburg and one in Portugal (which is one of two current headquarters with the other being in the United Kingdom). The two approached South African billionaire Richard ‘Dick’ Enthoven to help expand their business. Enthoven – who also owns the Hollard Group and Spier wine farm – now owns the business and his son Robbie runs the business in London. With 320 outlets across the UK, according to research by eDigitalResearch, Nando’s is said to be the most popular restaurant in the UK followed by Domino’s Pizza. With fans ranging from rapper Wiz Khalifa to pop group One Direction’s Harry Styles, it’s no wonder that Nando’s accounts for half of Enthoven’s 1.1 billion-dollar fortune.