2019 was a year of promise, characterised by the highs and lows of a country forever on the brink of change. Let us look now at the good news – the things that made us clap, smile and raise a glass. Let us celebrate the moments when the South African sun shone brightly on our nation, illuminating the greatness of our biggest and most valuable natural resource – our people.

Footprints on the Map of World Fashion

There’s a first time for everything, and 2019 was the first time a designer from the African continent won the fashion industry’s most prestigious talent prize. We’re talking about Thebe Magugu, the 26-year-old South African womenswear designer who won the 2019 Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy prize for emerging talent. Hailing from the small town of Kimberley, Magugu moved to the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg to study fashion design, fashion photography and fashion media at LISOF. Quality, novelty and culture are the pillars of his burgeoning brand. It’s a brand that constantly seeks new ways of representing women with sleek, forward-looking design that tells the uniquely African story. On the runway, his spring 2019 collection called African Studies paid homage to his home country. The range provides an introspective look at contemporary South Africa, with an intricate blend of traditional motifs and a slick, global aesthetic. At the heart of the collection is a sense of social complexity and the search for African identity within a globalised social space.

Photo: Thebe

A crown on his head is a crown for the world’s deaf community. 

The Art of Success

“It will not be a passing, fashionable moment,” were the words of Goodman Gallery owner Liza Essers on why the art world’s axis is tipping toward Africa. As an independent filmmaker turned art dealer, Essers turned her focus to the world’s art stage and in 2019 cemented the gallery’s legacy of social change when she opened a third location – the first outside South Africa – in London. The gallery’s 22-man inaugural group exhibition at Cork Street brought issues of social healing to the fore. Africa has something to show and something to say – it’s a message that pervades every piece of art in the Goodman Gallery, a message that exists at the heart of its emerging philosophy. Founded in 1966 during the apartheid area, the Goodman Gallery was the only gallery that permitted black artists to show their work. Today, the gallery is a showcase of artistic power, challenging power structures and bring South Africa’s aesthetic brilliance to the global arena.

Photo: Goodman Gallery

Our country is a dreamscape of possibility when it comes to snaps on Instagram.

On the Ball

France is where it would all happen for Banyana Banyana, who sealed their progression to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 with a 2-0 win over Mali in Ghana. In an ironic twist, Banyana Banyana would make their debut in la grande nation just like South Africa’s men’s team did back in 1998. Ten minutes before the moment of truth and Ramalepe scored a magnificent shot, concretising Banyana Banyana’s place in the most prestigious soccer tournament in the world. We couldn’t have been prouder. Vive la femme!

Taking over Instagram

South Africa is so beautiful, from the iconic silhouette of Table Mountain to the glistening beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, our country is a dreamscape of possibility when it comes to snaps on Instagram. And we are not the only ones who think so – a survey by Big 7 Travel Media proved it when South Africa scooped fifth place on the list of the most Instagram-worthy countries of 2019. The survey was based on the number of hashtags per destination, survey results from Big 7’s readership and votes from a panel of travel experts. Australia took the number one spot, followed by Hong Kong, Canada and Indonesia in fourth place. The top Insta-worthy spots? Diving Board rock on Table Mountain and North Beach in Durban. So, the next time you snap a few pics of South African scenery for Instagram, know that you’re adding to a global collage of appreciation for our very own Mzansi.

Photo: Ashley Jurius

A Win that Speaks Volumes

Phumelela ‘Purrah’ Mapukata clinched the official title of 2019’s Mr Deaf World at an international pageant held in Nelspruit. Mapukata took the stage alongside 20 contestants from 11 countries including Ukraine and China. Hailing from humble beginnings on a farm in the Eastern Cape, Mapukata’s rise to the top spoke volumes for the South African deaf community. Disability is not inability, or as Stephen Hawking said, “disability need not be an obstacle to success.”. Those words resonated through the auditorium on the night of Mapukata’s win. A crown on his head is a crown for the world’s deaf community and indeed, a crown for a proud country.

Photo: Facebook

Africa has something to show and something to say.

#RWC2019: The Big Win

Exactly five seconds after the 80-minute mark and the whistle sounded three times, heralding South Africa’s victory over England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Later, the world watched Springbok captain Sia Kolisi lift the Webb Ellis Cup in celebration, surrounded by our boys in green and gold. To the world, it was the moment that South Africa celebrated its third Rugby World Cup win. To South Africans all over the country, it meant so much more. It was the first time the Webb Ellis was lifted by a black Springbok captain. Finally, we realised the gravitas of the phrase ‘stronger together’.

Photo: The Springbok Supporters Club

Our Crowning Glory

Zozibini Tunzi won over the heart of a nation when she beat 16 other contestants to the coveted Miss South Africa 2019 crown. And she didn’t stop there. This thriving 26-year old went on to make her mark on the world by winning the Miss Universe contest in December 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Her crowning marked the third time that South Africa won the crown, proving yet again that South Africa has its fair share of bold beauties. Gender-based violence is the first item on Zozibini’s to-do list as she plans to use the international stage to raise awareness around women’s rights. “Take up space,” is her message for the women of the world – it’s time for women everywhere to demand representation in every industry and every corner of the globe.

The Song of a Nation

America’s Got Talent is known to be notoriously challenging. The judging process is gruelling, the talent, world-class. But when the Ndlovu Youth Choir raised its voice in unison, it proved that South Africa has a song to sing. Teaming up with Kygo, Macklemore and the Detroit Youth Choir, our talented team of vocalists performed ‘Africa’ by Toto in a final performance that got everyone to their feet. Donning bright yellow with trim that took its cue from traditional African design, the choir brought the vivacity and dynamism of South Africa to the global stage, stirring souls and making a resounding statement that South African talent is brimming with possibility.

Photo: America’s Got Talent