OPINION: Celebrating ordinary South Africans doing extraordinary things in 2019

The Ndlovu Youth Choir was one of the inspirational stories of 2019. (Supplied)
The Ndlovu Youth Choir was one of the inspirational stories of 2019. (Supplied)

The year 2019 was the year that ordinary South Africans proved that together we are not only stronger but much funnier. That done, we can start to look forward to 2020, writes Howard Feldman

2019 was the year when ordinary South Africans did extraordinary things.

It has been, in many ways, a year that normal South Africans can be proud of. Despite severe economic adversity and despite the multitude of factors that we have had to deal with.

It's in our nature to get tired of something and look excitedly towards change. At the end of winter we long for warmer days and at the close of summer we anticipate a winter night when the air is cool and we can dress snugly, accordingly.

The conclusion of a year is no different because we understand that with the dawn of the new comes the possibility of rebirth and of opportunity.

Whereas it is important and exciting to look ahead, it is equally important that we take stock of the year that still lingers. It is important that we don't discard the year without acknowledging some of the good that has occurred.

Earlier in the year the Ndlovu Youth Choir made South Africans proud by getting to the finals of America's Got Talent.

The Bokke united the country in an almost unprecedented way by winning the Rugby World Cup and by showing the country that together we are stronger.

And if that wasn't enough, it was also then that South Africa introduced Prince Harry to local beer and cheer, and proudly exposed South Africa's finest, or undies, decorated with the flag, thankfully at half-mast.

It was the year that saw Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa crowned Miss Universe and Charlize Theron nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress for her role in Bombshell.

South Africans by and large saw the funnier side of 2019.

In March this year a young woman, Marelize (she's from Namibia but we claimed her as one of our own), struggling to ride a bicycle, was filmed riding into a goal post by her mother.

The field was empty, which made the likelihood of her being able to hit into the pole much less likely than hitting it. But she did. And as she graciously smashed that pole and then fell over, the video records her mom saying the now immortal and quintessential South African words; "My f*k Marelize!"

Amongst everything else, 2019 was the year of "My f*k Marelize", because deep down every one of us identifies with the bicycle rider who is drawn, as though by some invisible magnetic field, towards the one thing that we need to avoid.

Some days we might be Marelize on the bike and some days we might be her mom watching as someone we love heads inexplicable towards danger.

But we are all on that empty field.

It was the year that Nando's introduced Mzansipoli to the country proving that we are able to find humour in our idiosyncrasies and that as serious as some subjects and some conversations might be, that we can still laugh.

Not only at each other, but more importantly at ourselves. In this game, participants are able to play a race card, get out of jail by using white privilege and can decide whether to pay their e-tolls or not.

It was also the year of huge and magnificent spirit.

Who could forget the gifts lavished on the sweet couple who had proposed marriage at a KFC all because someone had made a disparaging remark about the venue?

The Facebook group #ImStaying was launched in 2019. A few well-meaning people created an environment where ordinary South Africans would be able to tell everyday stories with an extraordinary message.

Nearly a million people joined in a matter of months proving not only that South African want to get along, largely aspire to the same goals and that that if you build it, they will come.

Eskom Se Push is another hero of the year.

Although not launched in 2019, it is hard to imagine the year without it.

With the country's useless sole provider of electricity doing their best to inflict the worst, with local municipalities floundering to get accurate load shedding schedules to the consumers, this group got together and created an app that provides all the information needed.

Eskom se Push has been a stable, predictable asset to South Africans and a great debt of gratitude is owed to them.

I look forward to the day when they are no longer relevant, but until then, it is hard to imagine life in the country without them.

The year 2019 was the year that ordinary South Africans proved that together we are not only stronger but much funnier.

That done, we can start to look forward to 2020.

- Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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