Thought 2016 was bad? We disagree. It’s been an awesome year, full of inspiring achievements, feel-good news stories and moments of genuine hope for humanity.


Sure, 2016 had Zuma and the Guptas. And then there was that Brexit and Trump thing. We also lost David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Alan Rickman and Muhammad Ali to name a few. And there have also been tragic wars, terrorism, a refugee crisis and that nasty business with the Zika virus.

But what about all the good things that happened? Because, believe it or not, there were plenty of good things that we can also be really proud of.

I’m calling it: 2016 was a great year, possibly the best yet.

And here are 15 feel-good South African reasons why you should feel the same too.

1. South Africa discovered it’s very own super hero who took on Zuma, corruption and spoke for everyone who couldn’t!

Our former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was announced as one of the top five extraordinary women in the world, awarded with the prestigious title of Forbes Africa Person of the Year, given a Mahatma Gandhi Awards and even Nandos gave her an award for all her incredible work in 2016.

Guys… we literally can say that South Africa has a real life super hero!!!!! And… she also said that she would not stop doing good things for our country, even though she’s given the title back.


2. Speaking of superheroes… Beyonce released another album which shook the world

Beyoncé shut everyone else down this year with a soul-on-fire masterpiece, testifying about love, rage and betrayal that felt all too true in the America of 2016.

The queen not only made the album of the year (and make no mistake, David Bowie would have been the first to say so), she delivered a confessional, genre-devouring suite that feels larger than life yet still heartbreakingly intimate, because it doubles as her portrait of a nation in flames.

And thanks to her album, we also discovered the amazing cape flats trio and that 18 year old orphaned African.

Beyonce Lemonade

3. South Africans stood together by forming a human chain to save others during flash flooding in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg was hit with tragic flash flooding in 2016 which saw lives lost, property damaged and heartbreaking stories from people affected by the extreme weather.

But the tragic stories were also met with amazing human beings who stood together in a time of need.

Truck drivers spent the tragic day pulling strangers from their cars during the flood, giving CPR and saving lives, security guards rescued a woman and her 4-old-son and a group of South Africans formed a human chain to help each other during the Joburg floods proving that Ubuntu is more than just a word.


4. South African dancers went viral internationally reaching the grammy award winning singer they were dancing too!

A South African choreographer created a video hoping Meghan Trainor would see it… and she did… and so did the rest of the world.

And everyone agrees that we have talent!

The video has already been viewed millions of times and the choreographer and dancers have showcased their amazing talent on the world stage!

Meghan Trainor Rudi Smit Me Too

5. There are more tigers in the world than this time last year

The world’s wild tiger population rose by more than 20 percent from 2010 to 2016—the first recorded increase in the big cats’ numbers in more than a century.

Increased conservation efforts, more land area surveyed, and improved survey techniques are likely responsible for the uptick in tigers recorded, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

That’s good news for an endangered species that has long been reeling from habitat loss, poaching, and wildlife trafficking.


6. A South African sportsman donated half of his winnings to a neonatal ward.

Not only did Wayde van Niekerk break a world record, get voted South African of the year and win our hearts… the golden Olympic champion was voted “best male athlete” in the world and gave half his winnings to the Cape Town neonatal ward.

Another incredibly talented South African doing good and giving back. Hats off Mr Van Niekerk… you truly are an inspiration and a hero!

Olympics Rio 2016

7. While South African students were protesting… one student went viral globally for sharing love!

The University protests which were in their second year turned violent with some students and citizens taking to the streets to express their anger.

But some community members refused to join the masses.

A South African student from the North West University in Potchefstroom went viral after posting a video of himself, inspiring peace through sharing love.

North West University Student

8. Cape Town was voted best city in the world… again!

The Mother City pulled out all the stops this year, flashing her beauty and appeal to foreigners and gathering awards around the globe for her sublime tourist offerings.

This year, the city racked up the top spot in the Telegraph Travel Awards, Condé Nast’s highly acclaimed Reader’s Choice Awards and as one of the Top 10 cities in the world for travellers in 2017.

If thats not something to be proud of… then we don’t know but it is and that makes us all happy!

Table Mountain

9. 2016 also gave us Pokemon Go

Not only a revolutionary smart phone game, but one which actually got people outside and exercising. It’s pretty much impossible to get very far in the game without moving around—a lot.

It’s also educational… to catch Pokémon, you use Pokéballs, which you can get when you visit Pokéstops. And Pokéstops just happen to include many landmarks and historical markers, including those hidden ones in your own neighbourhood.

Worth a handclap for that at least.

pokemon go

10. A South African teen won an international grand prize at Google Science Fair

Johannesburg schoolgirl Kiara Nirghin, won the ‘grand prize award at the Google Science Fair‘ for her awesome submission called “No More Thirsty Crops.

Using orange peel and avocado skins, Kiara Nirghin created a super absorbent polymer (SAP) capable of storing reserves of water hundreds of times its own weight, forming reservoirs that would allow farmers to maintain their crops at minimal cost.

Ummmm… she’s also 16. And now world renowned for her awesome invention! Just wow.

16-year-old South African invents incredible material to fight drought

11. Darren August, the South African hero who broke his spine during a train robbery continues to astound doctors with his dedication and persistence to get walking again.

In 2016, this amazing South African proved that nothing can keep him down. He might have been thrown off a train and broken his back but August is using every day to be a positive force in the world.

And South Africa is backing the hero! During the tragic time, GoodThingsGuy readers also helped raise over R500 000 for August’s treatment

And since then, the South African hero has been pushing boundaries with his rehabilitation, and shocking Doctors with his strength and determination. He forced the team at the centre to put these braces on him. He is determined that he will walk again.

Darryn August

12. A waitress was humiliated by an Oxford Student and South Africa said no… totally stood up for her and raised a massive tip to give to her

Over R150,000 was raised in online campaigns for the waitress that was allegedly reduced to tears by a #RhodesMustFall activist Ntokozo Qwabe.

Hundreds of well-wishers donated money to the  waitress to cover the tip a black Oxford student refused to pay because she was white.

Why does this matter… because South Africans are inherently good and shouldn’t be judged by the few that choose to not be.

Ntokozo Qwabe

13. Our municipalities are pulling themselves towards themselves…

The local government elections this year were dramatic, resulting in the ANC losing three metros to the DA, in coalition with other opposition parties.

The most positive changes have occurred in the first 100 days of four of the country’s top metros… they stopped all blue light brigades, banned all lavish lunches, banquets and inaugural parties, stopped the purchasing of luxury cars and launched anti corruption units… just to name a few.

If our leaders become better, the people that work in our municipalities will become better which will make us better… and thats better, right?


14. Our adventure couple broke another two world records

Riaan Manser & Vasti Geldenhuis completed an incredible row from California to Hawaii breaking two world records in the process.

The Mansers completed this task in just 39 days complimenting their existing record of being the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean east to west from the African mainland to North America.

We love what they do… and cannot wait to see what they have planned for 2017!

Riaan Manser Vasti Geldenhuis

15. That incredible iguana on Planet Earth 2

Was there ever anything so extraordinary as the desperate escape from a snake pit on the opening episode of the new series? About as tense, dramatic and ultimately uplifting as it’s possible to get.

That iguana on Planet Earth 2 showed us all that no matter what situation you think you’re in… theres a possibility that you can still get out alive & unscathed.

Hear that 2016… we know there were bad bits but we also know that we can make it out of any situation now.

We also asked our readers to tell us why they thought 2016 was the best year ever… their answers will definitely make you proudly South African, and proud of 2016!

Andrew Ross commented: “I travel internationally for business all the time and proudly call South Africa my home. You cannot beat the cost-of-living, quality of life, entrepreneurial opportunities etc. The grass is really not greener on the other side, its greener where you choose to water it.”

Chris van Rooyen added: “Phew! There is so much to write about when you consider this request. Yeah, I’ve had a tough year to say the least, but when I look around at other South Africans I see so much to be proud of… it all depends on where you look?

“I see determination, resilience, patience, a strong desire to do what’s right, people with morals and manners, people helping people, an encouraging municipal election, a country that despite its challenges is still ready to fight for the rights of the people, a country that never gives up!”

“I’ve met tourists that envy what we have, see sunsets and beautiful beaches, enjoy wide open spaces, have freedom of speech, religion, press and the freedom to be who I want to be.

“We can all see housing going up for the homeless, roads being repaired and built, people at last willing to challenge an apathetic government, I see hope and a future for my kids who will be here to make the difference. I see creative people who sing and dance, invent and innovate. I see colourful people rich in their diversity, I see Africa in our blood – wild and carefree.”

Riehna Kruger posted: “Wade van Niekerk and Caster Semenya’s gold medals at the Olympics. The people rallying behind Pravin Gordhan. The everyday heroes who’ve helped save people in the recent flash floods. Our hearts are still in the right place and that’s worth celebrating!”

Marie-Louise Kellett commented: “A judiciary that is still independent and functioning; an increasingly independently minded electorate; a free media; many more ethical leaders than we sometimes acknowledge; clean beaches and lots of wilderness”

Alli-Lee Smith added: “South Africans laugh at almost everything. 2016 has had so many diabolical issues, and there is always some clown who starts making fun of it…..”

What was your best 2016 moments… add it in the comments section below and help inspire even more South Africans with good things!

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Sources: GoodThingsGuy

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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