Lukanyo Mnyanda.
Lukanyo Mnyanda.
Image: Freddy Mavundla

It hasn’t been a great year for SA by any stretch of the imagination. At least if you use economic performance as a measure.

It was depressing throughout and there seemed to be no light (literally so with Eskom) at the end of the tunnel. One Friday in November, those who follow such things were waiting for the ratings company Moody’s Investors Service to put the final touches to our fallen status by dropping the country’s credit rating to junk.

But we got away with a reprieve and admonishment, and an instruction to come back in three months displaying signs that we are ready to behave.

And then, the next day, we went and won the Rugby World Cup. A month later I’m still buzzing. It was one of those “where were you?” moments. And I wasn’t even supposed to be there.

No, I didn’t win a last-minute trip to Japan. I hadn’t planned to be anywhere near a TV screen that fateful Saturday; I’d decided rather to explore the magnificent Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden in Stellenbosch.

After we’d looked at the massive creations and their surroundings (indigenous fynbos and grass, with mountains providing the back-drop), curiosity got the better of us, and we were soon in a crowded bar in the centre of town for the second half.

Never mind the economy, sport, and Eskom — we are at least world-beaters and pioneers in dancing

The rest is history. Needless to say, the venue couldn’t have been more different from where I was for the Springboks’ first world cup victory in 1995. Then, I was doing my regular holiday stint writing for The Herald in Port Elizabeth. For my assignment I went to watch the game at Centenary Hall in New Brighton, not far from my home.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that, a mere 24 years later, a then four-year-old boy from a couple of kilometres down the road would lift the Web Elllis Cup. I didn’t expect it to happen in my lifetime.

And this wasn’t even the feel-good story I’d hoped would lift the spirits of Wanted’s readers as we head to Christmas. Before Siya Kolisi & Co gatecrashed the party, my focus was going to be on British television. On my last visit to the UK I got reacquainted with Strictly Come Dancing, the iconic BBC dance show. It is a contest in which celebrities are partnered with professional dancers. They perform a dance together and are then scored by a panel of judges. The judges’ scores and picks from the public are tallied up to decide who goes home each week.

A few years ago, when I still watched the show, I was excited to see a South African, Oti Mabuse, join as a professional dancer. When I tuned in on my last visit, the SA contingent had grown to three. Oti’s sister, Motsi, was now one of the judges, with her uniquely South African exuberance on display. Johannes Radebe, a professional dancer, made it three, placing us joint first place with Italy in terms of international representation.

Radebe also made history when he was part of the first same-sex dance since the show started.

So that was meant to be the subject of my December column. Never mind the economy, sport and Eskom — we are at least world-beaters and pioneers in dancing. And then, Siya Kolisi and his crew went and got in the way of a good story.

But then again, I suppose it’s better to have two, rather than one, inspiring SA tales to lift the nation’s spirits.

• Mnyanda is the editor of Business Day

 From the December edition of Wanted 2019.

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