Gandhi voted into top 10 greatest S. Africans of all time

MUMBAI: The South African version of the BBC television format The Greats has resulted in Mahatma Gandhi being listed as one of the ten greatest South Africans of all time.

In Great South Africans, based on the BBC's Great Britons, public service broadcaster SABC 3 asked the South African public to vote for the country's greatest men and women. Many South Africans voted for Mahatma Ghandi, thus making him one of the top ten.

The vote is now on to decide which one out of the list will be most deserving of a place in history next to Nelson Mandela. In a surprise departure from the original BBC format, Nelson Mandela was declared the Greatest South African of all and the public is now being asked to vote for a winner from the other nine Great South Africans. The BBC's Great Britons led to Winston Churchill being voted the Greatest Briton.

The format of the show was licensed to SABC 3 by BBC Worldwide, the commercial consumer arm of the BBC. BBC Worldwide head of Africa, South Asia and Middle East Monisha Shah commented, "One of the most interesting aspects of the format of The Greats is that it provides so many topics for nation wide discussion: 'What is greatness?' 'What qualifies one - in this case - as a Great South African?' It is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi's lasting legacy that South Africa considers him one of its own. We look forward to licensing a similar programme about Great Indians which will generate similar interest in India's icons, past and present."

Over the next nine weeks, celebrity 'champions' will try to convince the public why their candidate should win, in 30-minute documentaries on SABC 3. Author and journalist Brenda Kali, herself a member of the Indian community in South Africa, will be Mahatma Gandhi's advocate.

The top ten Great South Africans as voted for by the South African public includes: Dr Christiaan Barnard, F W De Klerk, Mahatma Gandhi, Nkosi Johnson; Winnie Madikizela Mandela; Nelson Mandela; Thabo Mbeki; Gary Player; Jan Smuts and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

BBC Worldwide has also licensed the format of The Greats to Germany, where more than three million votes were cast and statesman Konrad Adenauer was voted 'Best German', to Finland and The Netherlands where the top ten is due to be announced shortly, and to Portugal, Canada, and Czech Republic and Russia, while negotiations are underway with broadcasters in many more countries around the world.

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