Imtiaz Sooliman – “The greatest thing South Africa has taught me is the spirit of love and being together.”
On 10 August 2014 at 20h27 on SABC 3, the acclaimed series 21 ICONS South Africa will feature the second icon of its second season: Imtiaz Sooliman, the founder of the South African based humanitarian aid organisation, Gift of the Givers. The preview is available on YouTube.
21 ICONS is a showcase for the South African spirit; a tribute to the men and women who have helped to shape our country and, indeed, our world. The series is part of an annual project which features unique narrative portraits and short films by Adrian Steirn, one of the continent’s pre-eminent photographers and filmmakers. Steirn’s evocative and moving work has successfully captured the essence of people who, through their dedication and vision, have become role models for communities grappling with the challenges of transformation. To watch the 21 ICONS promo video, visit: http://youtube/U7_9DBTLq0U
The beautiful portraits included in the projects will be sold at a charity auction later in the year. Sooliman has nominated the Gift of the Givers Foundation to be a recipient of the funds.
Steirn’s portrait of Sooliman appears in a poster in the weekend paper on the same day. The portrait is a reflection of a life that has been dedicated to giving and offering assistance and hope, even in the most dire of circumstances.
Comments Steirn on his selected composition, “A gift represents human kindness, and ne’er a truer word was spoken with Dr Sooliman. He’ll give a gift without expecting anything back. I loved the contrast between this beaming man and this gift, and he brings hope to the darkest places imaginable.”
In an intimate conversation with Steirn, Sooliman talks about his life as a humanitarian and the courage it takes to lead in disaster situations. He also discusses the importance of innovation in his work, and the idea that shared humanity is more important than anything else: class, race, language and religion.
Something else his work has taught him is that, as a South African, there is so much to be grateful for. He explains to Steirn: “Every visit to another country makes me miss South Africa, especially the peace we enjoy in this country, and how we all get on together, irrespective of our pasts. The fact that we are so compassionate towards each other, so caring. I think that the Ubuntu spirit and the feeling of togetherness is the best I’ve ever seen, anywhere in the world.”
That’s why Sooliman insists that South Africa’s future is a great one. Yes, he says, there are political issues – but he maintains that the willingness of the people, and their skill, outweigh all our problems and difficulties. “We have great people – and, more to the point, a new generation who are capable of looking beyond colour and race. It’s going to be a great country – in fact, it’s already a great country. It’s just going to get better.”
Season two of 21 ICONS South Africa is proudly sponsored by Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Momentum Asset Management, Nikon, Deloitte and the Department of Arts and Culture.
The 21 ICONS App features additional information about the icons, the project and its creators to provide a fully interactive experience. Download it from iTunes App Store: http://tinyurl.com/lf3cfzm or Google Play: http://tinyurl.com/ovtcy45