The third annual GQ men of the year awards took place on November 27, 2021 at the Four Seasons hotel, Westcliff in Johannesburg. Congratulations are in order for our global star Thuso Mbedu for taking home the prestigious “Woman of the year” award.
The actress is unapologetically taking up space and continuously cementing herself. She is living proof that “African child, your dreams are valid. Her role as Cora in The Underground Railroad earned her first international award, bagging the TV breakout star award at the inaugural Hollywood critic’s association awards. The talented thespian is at the pinnacle of her acting career in the US. She is the epitome of black girl magic, and we can’t be prouder. We are definitely here for it!
In a world where we were forced to adapt to the “new normal”, there were people set on adjusting and resetting by not bowing to fear but stood – succeeded against all odds. The GQ man of the year award celebrates the men and women that made the world a better place – during a time when we needed it most.
Here’s the full list of the #GQMOTY award winners for 2021.
Activist of the Year: Kolisi Foundation
Affectionately known as the “people’s captain”, the captain of the South African national rugby team is also a GQ 2020 cover star. He’s not only a GOAT on the sports field but his philanthropic spirit sets him apart as a leader with empathy and heart. The foundation which he co-founded with his wife, Rachel Kolisi during the pandemic to respond to the challenges faced by vulnerable communities, has already made a difference in the lives of thousands of people.
Entertainer of the Year: Makhadzi
The award-winning songstress who hails from the beautiful province of Limpopo has managed to capture the attention of music lovers across generations with her distinct sound, putting Africa on the map.
Musician of the Year: Focalistic
It’s been a great year for the talented muso who graced our September 2021 cover and continues to top the charts locally and internationally. He recently bagged an EMA nomination, further solidifying Africa’s presence on the global stage.
Editor’s Special Tribute: Shona Ferguson
Affectionately known as “Uncle Sho”, the acclaimed actor, executive producer, and business man’s passing came as a shock to many of us, and we continue to feel his absence in the spaces he occupied. Shona embodied the GQ man, who is inspirational, empowered, influential and powered by impact. It’s no surprise that he was a friend of the brand, and unfortunately plans to have him on our cover were halted by his untimely passing. His contribution to the entertainment industry has not only elevated the African narrative but his collaboration with international stars on “Kings of Joburg” further affirmed that Africa “your time is now!”
Designer of the Year: Laduma Ngxokolo
It all started with a vision to create a modern Xhosa knitwear collection for initiates, and now the award-winning designer, entrepreneur and creative artist is synonymous with Black Excellence. His globally recognized brand which he founded in 2012 is one of the most ground-breaking brands in South African history. His work has been showcased at the New York Fashion Week, displayed and archived in the SMITHSONIAN Museum, and Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York amongst others. From Africa to the world…
Woman of the Year: Thuso Mbedu
The actress who is unapologetically taking up space and cementing herself is proof that “African child, your dreams are valid!” Her role as Cora in The Underground Railroad earned her first international award. Bagging the TV Breakout Star Award at the inaugural Hollywood Critic’s Association awards, the talented thespian is at the pinnacle of her acting career in the US. She is the epitome of black girl magic, and we’re here for it!
Gamechanger of the Year: Kgothatso Montjane
Wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane made history as the country’s first black woman to compete in Wimbledon, and the first African wheelchair tennis player to compete in all four Majors in a year. Besides her talent on the courts, the Paralympic star started her own foundation to make a difference in the lives of those living with disabilities.
Gamechanger of the Year: Tatjana Schoenmaker
Elite athlete Tatjana Schoenmaker claimed her spot in the history books by becoming the first female swimmer from South Africa in over 20 years to win an Olympic medal, claiming Gold and Silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and setting a new world record in the process.
Sportsperson of the Year: Ntando Mahlangu
Winning two gold medals and setting a record at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, at 19 years of age, Paralympic athlete Ntando Mahlangu is an inspiration to many and a shining example of what can be achieved with big dreams, determination and perseverance.
Business Leader of the Year Award presented by Standard Bank: Theo Baloyi
Founder and CEO of Bathu Shoes Company, Theo Baloyi is a visionary entrepreneur who has built a thriving sneaker business that, under his unwavering leadership, vision and hard work, has grown to become recognized alongside international giants.
Industry Icon of the Year: Nick Boulton
With a career spanning over three decades, Nick Boulton is one of South Africa’s most prominent, experienced and respected photographers. Well, known within the industry for his unique personality, inspired eye and attention to detail, his iconic portraits have graced the covers of countless magazines.
Hennessy Lifetime Achievement Award: Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse
The music of South African legend Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse has spanned generations. Over the past 50 years, his music career has helped define South African politics and popular culture. During his illustrious music career, Sipho has performed across Africa, Europe, and the US, and recorded and produced a number of legendary artists.
By Sinenzolo Mondi Nduku
Additional info from GQ