Spring is finally here! Our Olympic heroes no doubt made us ridiculously proud, but much of August was anxiety-ridden and taxing for all of us. Local government election results were surprising, the last of the cold weather brought with it the onslaught of people’s hay fever as Spring sets in, and after steadily sitting under R14 for a good few weeks, the rand climbed. But, there were a few highlights. Here’s our monthly roundup.
1. The 16-year-old schoolgirl who invented a wonder material to combat drought – and then won at the Google Science Fair
Sixteen-year-old Kiara Nirghin won the Google Science Fair’s Community Impact Award for the Middle East and Africa with her submission “No More Thirsty Crops.”
Using orange peel and avocado skins, Kiara 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.”
— FNGH (@globetreked) August 28, 2016
You go, girl! #WomenInSTEM
2. Our 10 Olympic medals
We are immensely proud of our athletes’ performance at the Games this year. They all did so well and we are still not over HOW well! We got two golds – from Caster Semenya and Wayde Van Niekerk (who broke a world record, to boot). Six silvers, from Cameron Van Der Burgh, Chad Le Clos (two medals!), Lawrence Brittain, Shaun Keeling, Luvo Manyonga and of course the incredible Sunette Viljoen. And also two bronze medals – one for our national rugby sevens team, and one for Henri Schoeman.
Wayde van Niekerk – Olympic champion, 400m record-holder. Images Christiaan Kotze/SASPA pic.twitter.com/GJZC3L85FR
— TeamSouthAfrica (@teamsa17) August 16, 2016
And once again, we present to you, our Queen of 800m & Olympic Gold medalist Caster Semenya, our Golden Girl pic.twitter.com/F6uJvdw7i4
— TeamSouthAfrica (@teamsa17) August 21, 2016
Go Team SA!
— Vaylen Kirtley (@VaylenKirtley) August 23, 2016
We look forward to the good work our Paralympians aim to do.
3. South Africa reclaimed its ranking as the number one economy in Africa
Two years ago, Nigeria knocked South Africa off the top spot to put us into second place, and Egypt climbed to the second spot earlier this year too, putting us in third place.
But our GDP value has increased, and we’ve now got the top spot. It is susceptible to change anytime though, dependent on a few things – not least, the exchange rate.
4. Braai culture remains a firm favourite, nabs a top spot on a CNN list
Braais are part of the very fabric of being South African – and it’s listed as one of the top ways in the world to barbecue. It’s not just that distinctive chargrilled meat that gets us on the list though – it’s the entire culture of the the whole thing. “No place does “Sunday Funday” quite like the townships, where shisa nyama (“burn meat” in Zulu) venues elevate the braai experience with on-site butchers, cooks, drinks and party-starting DJs.”
SA would be that kid who starts an impromptu braai even during exam time pic.twitter.com/kcHjfaHbN2
— Sure Kamhunga (@sure_kamhunga) August 25, 2016
5. South Africa beat Argentina on our home turf
In a nail-biting match in Nelspruit on August 20, the Springboks took a lead over the South American nation of Argentina in a first-round thriller match, part of the Rugby Championship. Trailing by 10 points with 10 minutes left, in the nick of time they managed to score two tries and get a 30-23 victory. Yaaaass.
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) August 20, 2016
Unfortunately, they couldn’t repeat the same and the Pumas were the winners in the next match, on August 27. But hey, 1/2 ain’t bad.
6. The youngest PhD graduate in Africa is a 23-year-old from North West University
Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe (23) will graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in industrial psychology in October. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Botswana, she moved to South Africa and started studying at NWU when she was 16, after she finished matric. Quoted in Drum magazine, she says that women should stop trying to be like men or better than them because there is much more profound work that women can do.
Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe (23) making history by becoming Africa’s youngest most-educated person.
— Martin M (@Martin_RSA) August 11, 2016
We do love us some #BlackGirlMagic.
7. After a viral Facebook post and some media help, this family was reunited
Razia van der Schuur was frustrated with the Department of Home Affairs after the temporary residence visa for her husband Christian was rejected for the fourth time in two years – “after submitting all legal documents indicating that he is legally married (now for 5 years), legally and biologically the father of a 4-year-old child and legally (was until 3 months ago when you deported him unjustifiably) an employee of IBM for 10 years with a tax number.”
She posted about it on Facebook, and asked users to share the post – and within a week, it got sorted out, and the family was reunited.
8. The flash mob at the Cape Town Engen garage that had motorists in high spirits
In late August, a petrol attendant at the Orange Street Engen in Cape Town started cleaning a motorist’s windscreen – and then immediately launched into a full-on funky solo dance, as the Sipho Hotstix Mabuse hit “Burn Out” started blasting in the background. Soon after, his colleagues immediately joined in in a wonderfully coordinated dance – and everyone there was delighted by the show.
Although it turned out that the “attendants” were actually professional dancers, it didn’t detract from the moment – South Africans are still grooving.
9. The whale that hugged its saviours after it got entangled
An “awwww” moment if we’ve ever seen one. On Sunday 28 August, a male humpback whale got entangled in two floatation buoys and two trailing lines, on the coast near Cape Point. Highly trained members immediately went out in two National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Simon’s Town sea rescue craft, and used specialised techniques to cut through the ropes that were trapping the animal, managing to disentangle him.
According to a statement on the NSRI website, “Once all rope and the floatation buoy was removed, in a most incredible reaction from the animal, the whale swam right up alongside the sea rescue craft, almost hugging the rescue boat (All motors had been switched off) and he gently placed his head on the gunnel of the sea rescue craft. The whale remained there for almost 20 minutes seemingly staring at his rescuers. All involved described a surreal and emotional moment shared between the SAWDN volunteer team and this beautiful animal.”
10. Summer is well on its way
We’ve had tornadoes. We’ve had snow. We’ve beeeeen waiting for this. The beautiful daisies that have popped up on the West Coast, along with the scent of jasmines in our backyards (and the sound of sneezing from our hayfever-suffering compatriots) are just reminders that the worst of winter is over and long days of sunshine, swimming and braais lie ahead.