50 Flippen Brilliant South Africans

Alexander Parker & Tim Richman
South African non-fiction
November 2012 - updated in 2015


What does it take to be a flippen brilliant South African? Simple: sheer brilliance and a good story. So, whether naughty or noble, crazy or controversial, here are 50 of the most talented, successful, inspirational, intriguing, fascinating Saffers to have walked the planet…

Of course, there are the great statesmen (Mandela, Luthuli, Smuts), the landmark achievers (Charlize Theron, Chris Barnard) and the incredible talents (Miriam Makeba, Irma Stern), but the lesser-knowns will also make a case: such as Ntshingwayo Khoza, the conqueror at Isandlwana; Ampie Roux, the atom-bomb creator; Ryan Sandes, the world’s best trail runner… As will the honorary inclusions (Churchill, Rodriguez, Gandhi) and the previously scorned (Mbeki, Shaka). But how exactly does Winnie Madikizela-Mandela qualify? From space adventurers (Mark Shuttleworth) and fighter pilots (Sailor Malan) to entrepreneurs (Elon Musk) and environmentalists (Ian Player), this is a raucous celebration of the country we call home, and the perfect partner to 50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa – proving that you just can’t have the bad without the good…


Alexander Parker is a journalist whose work appears regularly in a wide variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He is the author of the forerunner to this book, 50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa, and 25 Cars To Drive Before You Die

Tim Richman is a writer, editor and publisher. He is the author of the bestselling Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? series, among other titles.


Zapiro is South Africa’s premier political cartoonist. He has won multiple local and international accolades and has released numerous bestselling collections of his work. Click here to see Zapiro’s homepage.


"Clever, informative, witty, well-researched, engrossing." – Gorry Bowes Taylor, Fine Music Radio 

"A fabulously easy read following the success of 50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa... [with] brilliant supporting illustrations" - Cape Times

"NOT who you’d expect! If you think you can guess who’s in this book, you’ve got a lot to learn. Out-of-the box thinking as gone into the selection of these sometimes controversial candidates – and a dizzying amount of research. Shows South Africa in different lights." – Nancy Richards, SAFM

"It’s a fabulous book [with] some fabulous, fabulous stories." – Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show, 702

"As is the case with any reader of a list of 50 flippen brilliant anythings, there are going to be some fairly significant disagreements, some raised eyebrows, some yep I’m with you on that one, and quite a lot of whatabouts... One of the many joys of a book like this is that it does provide opportunity for debate." – John Maytham, Cape Talk

"I think it’s a fantastic book and it could quite obviously lead on to another book... What more could you want for Christmas?" – Jenny Crwys-Williams

"Hits exactly the right note: entertaining and informative even if you don’t agree with every choice. Alexander Parker sets out his stall of ‘flippen’ wonders with a light and witty touch... The bonus of this compilation is that even with famous characters you’ll learn something new. Others are no longer as well-known as they should be, such as Sailor Malan, the Second World War air ace. There are several scientists that I’d never heard of, but am delighted to know about... Brenda Fassie, JM Coetzee, Miriam Makeba, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Lucas Radebe, Sol Plaatje, Pieter-Dirk Uys. Strange bedfellows; but then, this is SA. Written with conviction and brio, this could make a flippen useful Christmas gift." – Bryan Rostron, Business Day

The follow-up to the bestselling 50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa

Shortlisted for The Neilsen Bookseller’s Choice Award 2013

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