Beginning as a list of "Young South Africans you must take to lunch", Mail & Guardian's flagship project has grown to recognise 200 youth annually, by exploring their contributions to spheres of society from arts and entertainment to health.
Winners are chosen through public nominations – of which more than 6,000 were received this year – followed by a rigorous selection process led by the editorial team. Now in its 14th year, the list has in the past named notable alumni such as Trevor Noah, Caster Semenya, Mamokgethi Phakeng, Lauren Beukes and Lady Skollie.
For many, Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans has been a platform from which their early career achievements have been amplified and noticed, allowing for even more significant growth. “These are the young people who are shaping South Africa and who are going to be instrumental in the future that we’re slowly building,” says Mail & Guardian chief executive officer Hoosain Karjieker. “We at Mail & Guardian are proud to be the convenor in identifying the cohort every year. The selection process is thorough and rigorous. The awarding of the accolade bears great testimony to all the hard work these individuals undertake to make a significantly positive impact on a society fraught with numerous challenges and difficulties.”
This year, the awards add a special category, Editor’s Choice of Covid-19 Frontliners, to recognise those whose efforts have made a notable contribution to the fight against the pandemic’s effects in South Africa.
In the spirit of recognising, rewarding and supporting young innovators and changemakers, Nedbank returns once again as the headline sponsor of Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans. “We are proud to once again partner with Mail & Guardian on what has become a much-anticipated platform. The individuals who get nominated and those who make the final list are a true inspiration to us all to keep working together to realise the immense potential that our country holds. As a purpose-led brand, we are committed to walking the journey with young people and helping them evolve into the exceptional leaders South Africa needs,” says Khensani Nobanda, group executive: marketing and corporate affairs at Nedbank.
Other partners include University of Johannesburg, eNCA, Wits University, Kaya FM, Durban University of Technology, Mintek as well as the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency.
As a whole, 2020’s list emphasises innovation as a tool in challenging the status quo by finding smart solutions to deep-rooted problems and tackling our country’s and world’s current challenges. In keeping with innovation, this year’s awards will take on a digital form thanks to the broadcasting partner eNCA. Viewers can register to watch the ceremony live on 10 September 2020 as winners are announced ahead of the issue appearing on shelves on the morning of 11 September.
Mail & Guardian’s Athandiwe Saba and eNCA’s Thembekile Mrototo will lead this years virtual reveal on 10 September at 7 pm, with 11 categories to award – along with 2020’s special 12th category, Frontliners, highlighting heroes of the response to Covid-19.