South Africa, a winning nation

Regomoditswe MavimbelaBy Regomoditswe Mavimbela

South Africa’s journey to democracy is a result of the culmination of the brave and selfless actions by leaders and citizens who sought to transform our nation into a democratic dispensation.  As we prepare to celebrate 30 years of freedom this year, we remember the milestones that have brought us to this point.

Our first democratic leader, former President Nelson Mandela stated that “the real makers of history are the ordinary men and women of our country; their participation in every decision about the future is the only guarantee of true democracy and freedom”. 

This sentiment holds true even today, as we witness the many South Africans who continue to accomplish extraordinary things as they go about their daily lives. Their actions uplift our nation, creating a euphoric mood which helps to unify us. 

Recently the Class of 2023 made history by attaining a pass rate of 82.9 percent, the highest recorded since the dawn of our democracy. This outstanding achievement proves that that we are a nation of achievers, despite our many challenges.

Our nation’s flag was flown high at the recent Grammy Music Awards where local artist Tyla, won the award for Best African Music performance for her song Water. Tyla is the youngest African to win a Grammy, making this not only a great accomplishment for South Africa but also for the African continent.

Over the years many other talented South African artists such as Black Coffee, Lady Smith Black Mambazo, Phil Ramone and the Soweto Gospel Choir were recognised at the global music showcase and received Grammy Awards. The world has come to know our local music such as Kwaito and Amapiano through our talented artists who continue to showcase our talents and unique national heritage on the world stage. 

South Africa boasts various dynamic artists such as Dr Esther Mahlangu who is globally acclaimed for her bold abstract paintings that are inspired by Ndebele design. She made history as the first African and first woman commissioned to paint a BMW car. Dr Mahlangu also worked with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and partnered with prominent global brands such as Rolls Royce. She continues to keep our South African heritage alive by teaching Ndebele painting and beadwork to young artists. 

These achievements demonstrate that despite the challenges we often experience, we are a nation of hope and continue to rise above to do the extraordinary. As South Africans, we must use these moments to draw us together to build a better nation and move us towards future greatness.  

We are also inspired by our athletes who continue to shine on the sporting field. This includes the recent win by Cara Du Plesis of the Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF NO-GI World Champion title in the United States and Jackson Chauke who won the flyweight title for the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) in London. Dricus Du Plesis also made history as the first South African to win the UFC middle weight championship.

These victories build on the Springbok Rugby team’s win of the Rugby World Ellis Cup last year. The win charged our atmosphere with nostalgia as we recalled our very first win of the Rugby World Cup in 1995. In a nation that was bitterly divided by apartheid, the 1995 Rugby World Cup fostered a shared national pride and identity. South Africans put aside their differences and united to celebrate South Africa as ‘one team’ and ‘one country’

We showed ourselves a winning nation when we successfully became the first African country to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, shining the light on our ‘African-ness’ and diaspora. This year, our national soccer team Bafana Bafana, made the nation proud competing in the semi-finals of AFCON. 

Our sports women also made history when Banyana Banyana won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2022 and secured a top spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023. Our national women’s rugby team have also contended admirably during their participation in three Rugby World Cups since they debuted in 2006. 

Last year the Spar Proteas, our national netball team, competed brilliantly when we hosted the Netball World Cup, while our team for the Special Olympics Games did us proud by bringing home two gold, seven bronze and 20 silver medals.

The many achievements by ordinary South Africans spark hope and inspires us to triumph as a nation. Let us reflect on these achievements with pride and continue to establish our nation as one of winners.

Regomoditswe Mavimbela is Deputy Director-General: Content Processing and Dissemination at GCIS