Good Things - Springboks outclass Canada to book RWC quarter-final spot SABC
Photo Cred: SA Rugby

This year has been so rough on so many, but looking back on the year that was 2021, there were so many good things that happened in South Africa by good people! 2021 brought us to the brink but it wasn’t without extraordinary moments.

 

Johannesburg, South Africa (23 December 2021) – Good grief, if you had told a younger version of myself that I would somehow create, own and write for South Africa’s biggest good news site, that I would sometimes be published in the country’s most significant news platform and be called the go-to guy for good news, I would have never believed you.

Like what the actual?

But in reality, I am so incredibly humbled by this thing, this journey that life has put me on. And more than anything – in my heart of hearts – I just want to remind everyone that even though the world might look like a very scary place, there are helpers in the tragedies, moments of light that need to be celebrated and things that happen every single day that can make your heart smile.

Balance.

Yes, it has been a really traumatic time for most of us, and I am so incredibly sorry for that, but here’s a look back at those little moments of light in 2021 (published in News24 this morning).

It may feel like a lifetime ago, but in January of this year, we heard the story of Maxine Wiehe, a chef who, after being retrenched, opened up her dream ice cream business. There was also the story of Margaret Hirsch who, not only finished her MBA at 70 years old but also hosted online masterclasses to help struggling businesses at the beginning of the year. Chefs with Compassion, a volunteer-based organisation, served more than 1,5 million meals to vulnerable people since the start of lockdown, and Chad Nathan, a filmmaker and photographer documenting lockdown, raised over R600,000 for charity, and that was just month one of the year!

In Good Company - Prolific South Africans Celebrated in Fine Art Photography Book!
Thuli Madonsela – A Bright Future | Photo Cred: In Good Company

In February, the amount of love being shown throughout South Africa was unforgettable. We heard how Professor Thuli Madonsela received a French Knighthood and how Phakamisani Primary School took meals to learners who were unable to get to school during lockdowns. In other news, a whole community raised funds for a waiter after they experienced a really unpleasant customer. Constable Moleko Mabe, a police officer at the Phuthaditjhaba Police Station, helped an elderly woman who was struggling in the flooded Kgoptjane River.

During the third month of the year, we met Zirk Botha – the South African who finished a World Record 7200km solo row from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro in just 70 days. We read how Carolyn Hancock, in just over 15 years, influenced legislation around the collection of DNA at crime scenes and founded a fully-fledged centre for child victims of sexual abuse in the village of Howick in the KZN Midlands and Mr Martin Ledwaba, after being at Jeppe High School for Boys for the last 50 years, was honoured by the school, its pupils and parents. Also, in March, a crowdfunding initiative created by media personality Lasizwe Dambuza raised R2 million in just 7 days!

Random Acts of Kindness Johannesburg Joburg Good Things
Photo Cred: Random Acts of Kindness

In April of this year, Black Coffee started a fundraising campaign to raise R3 million for students in the creative arts field of study. Gerhard Grove, who had been at the Engen garage in Harrismith, was relieved when petrol attendant Petrus found his wallet and returned it! In another story, one community’s neighbour paid rent for the family next door, saving them from eviction. Who says love is not all around us?

Meshack’s Bike Shop was another beautiful success story of how a young man went from being homeless to running a successful business. We also read about Prince Mashawana, better known in the superhero realm as SuperMash, a South African kid who is officially the youngest child to ever do a TEDx talk in the world! And Vuyiseka Arendse shattered gender stereotypes as a member of the first-ever all-female firefighting team in South Africa!

In May, we heard about jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim and Generations creator Mfundi Vundla who received honorary Doctorates! During this month, Sean Williams and his team collected and recycled over 50,000 bags of trash to celebrate his 50th birthday – a six-month project in the making. The White River community knitted over 1583 beanies and scarves to help keep children warm during the winter, and South African trail runners Christiaan Greyling and AJ Calitz broke the Guinness World Record for the greatest vertical distance on foot on Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge.

Sean Williams and Lovemore Robson 
Photo Cred: Sean Williams and Lovemore Robson

The community of Somerset West honoured their lost loved ones and pets by planting 70 trees in their local park while Marinda Bootsma and Attie Tiley got married as soon as they crossed the finish line of the KAP Sani2c Mountain Bike Race, an epic 266km three-day race. Also, in May of this year, Thapelo Mogorosi used every spare moment while working on the night shift in the mines to complete his Diploma and land his dream job in IT!

In June, learners from the JJ Matsane Primary School were able to expand their computer literacy thanks to the donation of a new computer centre with 41 new laptops. We also heard how a nighttime security guard funded his studies to obtain not one but two degrees! Dr Perekeme Mutu completed his Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree with UNISA and his Doctor of Philosophy (Law) from UP. We learned how Nothando Nyathi followed her baking passion and went from domestic worker to nifty baker, turning it into a business she always dreamed of. Love My Valley collected and distributed 1643 blankets to the most vulnerable in the Paarl community to help them through the winter season, and fashion designer Carlo Gibson created warm and portable 3-in-1 jackets for the homeless.

In July, we learned that little Mackenzie Friedman, affectionately known as Mighty Mack, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) a few months earlier, and her story touched the hearts of South Africans, mobilising many to donate blood and register as bone marrow donors in honour of her journey. In July, her parents celebrated her 6-month milestone, and her community commended her fighting spirit. We also learned about Travis Johnston, a South African who, after riding the Tour de France at home, raised over R200 000 for charity.

Mack
Photo Credit: Mighty Mack – Facebook

July was a horrendous time for the country as the mass lootings seemed never-ending, but once again, private and corporate South Africa stepped in and assisted. Local radio stations like Alex FM were aided with R50,000 to rebuild and were offered a temporary broadcasting space.  South African Taxi Associations even took a stand against the violence, and the Gugulethu Community used bicycles to deliver food to neighbours. Andrew Draper, a talented chef and caterer, turned ingredients meant for a wedding into 1000 warm meals for people in need and even Gqeberha residents and Eastern Cape Taxi bosses mobilised to protect shopping malls. Servolution in KwaZulu-Natal helped families through the protests and collected an impressive 24 tons of food within 24 hours! There are so many more stories like these, and July was also the month that Tatjana Schoenmaker broke an Olympic Record!

In August, we saw how a community raised R50 000 for teacher Lara Van Lelyveld who battles a rare illness to help save her voice and allow her to get back to her dream job. Remember the drama with SASCOC and our Olympic athletes? South Africans raised R100,000 in just one hour to gift our Olympic athletes, and that figure jumped to R350,000 in just 24 hours. In other news, Massimo’s Pizzeria in Hout Bay supported staff during the level 4 lockdown thanks to a generous tip left by a loyal customer of R20,000, and African Harvard University student Sabelo Mhlambi introduced the first of its kind African multilingual keyboard.

Team South Africa: Tatjana Schoenmaker Wins!!!
Photo Cred: Tatjana Schoenmaker Instagram

Samhridhy Gohain became a first-time published author on Amazon at the age of 10 and is using her passion to support children at the Jakaranda Children’s Home in Pretoria, and our Mighty Mack finally came out of the ICU! JMPD officers even paid out of their own pockets to help get an elderly homeless man to safety during August. South Africans, we are incredible!

As we entered the last quarter of the year in September, we learned that Nomavuso Shozi was taught to farm during the lockdown, and because of that, the single mother with a disability was able to support herself and her child. In another brilliant story, Natalie Te Paa was treated to a birthday dinner at Luciano by Gino D’Acampo, and when staff learned she was blind, they went above and beyond to create a braille dessert.

We also learned that Netcare bestowed its top award, the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Award, posthumously on highly respected specialist physician and nephrologist Dr Hendrik Viljoen, who participated in over 600 kidneys and 25 combined pancreas-kidney transplants during his illustrious medical career. Antonio Neves restored an elderly couple’s faith in humanity when he helped repair their car, free of charge, and had it driven 400km to where they were staying. ‘Neighbourhood Friends’ worked to support the elderly in Cape Town by walking door-to-door to check on them, making sure they were healthy and supported.

FoodForward SA Chefs With Compassion Reaches 2 Million Meal Milestone!
Photo Cred: On File | Supplied

In October, Professor Stephanie Burton was announced as one of the winners at an awards ceremony that is informally known as South Africa’s “Science Oscars”, and thanks to Doorway to Dignity, The Shelterbag was established in Cape Town and distributed in Gauteng to aid the homeless. Trevor Noah donated R8 million towards YouthBuild South Africa to empower youth and supply funding to projects that will drive change in the country and Bertrams Inner City Farm, run by Mama Fifi, highlighted the positive impact growing fresh food can have on a community, even in the inner city.

During November, a great story was that of Takesure Ranjisi, a waiter who had lost his job during lockdown but who is now running his own pizza takeaway!  Then there was the organisation Mother Soup, the ray of light for the Western Cape’s destitute during the early days of lockdown, serving over 5 million meals! It was also during this month that Lalela Mswane was crowned as the new Miss South Africa for 2021, and Olympic medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker Launched a Foundation to Give Back to SA.

Lalela Mswane Crowned As Miss South Africa 2021!
Photo Cred: Supplied | On File

There was honestly so much good news throughout 2021. There was also the story about SA playwright and novelist Damon Galgut who won the prestigious Booker Prize, the leading literary award in the English-speaking world. Then there was the Barbas family in the Eastern Cape, five incredible South African heroes who continue to spend their free time-saving people! Siphenkosi Nqoro, a petrol attendant, graduated with an LLB from the University of Fort Hare and the Midrand SPCA shared the harrowing tale of how Inspector Jerry Seemise raced to the highway’s fast lane to rescue a terrified dog. There was the incredible story of a 13-year-old self-taught musician, known only as Joshua, who went viral while playing a public piano at Table Bay Mall.

We hit December, and while we are all feeling exhausted, the good news is not done with us yet! We’ve recently learned about how Stellenbosch University hosted a 16km walk to pay off students’ debt and how 71-year-old George Phontshe Peni, an ice-cream seller on the Blouberg beachfront, was gifted R23 000 as a retirement present from his community. In a major career milestone, a Limpopo-born doctor with a passion for providing quality care in rural parts of the country was recently admitted to the American College of Surgeons – one of just 42 South African doctors to have received this internationally recognised commendation. Last but not least, this year, the Santa Shoebox project delivered 63,099 gift boxes to children from around South Africa, and they thank everyone that contributed in 2021.

And those are just some of the good things that happened this year. In total, we reported on over 2,600 feel-good moments and stories in 2021 alone.

And here we are on the brink of 2022, South Africa, and what a year it has been! I can only reiterate once again that we have all been through the most, and we will get through it all again together. Let’s be a bit kinder, love a little louder, and hold your loved ones a bit closer. I wish you only Good Things for 2022!

Good Things 2022
Photo Cred: Pexels

Sources: Brent Lindeque | Good Things Guy 
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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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