A Bit Of Good news For A Change

A Bit Of Good news For A Change

Good news amid the gloom

The last year has been filled with ups and downs. Many of us have said goodbye to loved ones due to the pandemic or other tragedies, livelihoods have crumbled, travel plans and events have been cancelled, Eskom is once more pushing us past our breaking limit, complaints about governments – both local and abroad – are piling up by the second. 

Many people have felt the stress and exhaustion of a year which has not been very kind, and so it is therefore no surprise that we’re all reaching for some glimmers of hope, silver linings and good news to restore our faith in mankind and give us new vooma to tackle the future.

So without further ado, here are some things to cheer you up and remind you that there is still loads of good to go around and look forward to. 

South African gymnasts make history

With the world on its head, most of our normal sporting events have been called off or cancelled. With crowds limited or completely barred from many events, it’s also easy for sporting news to fall through the cracks.

South Africa’s Naveem Daries and her sister Zelme have also had a tough year, as they’ve not been able to compete in international gymnastics for 15 months. Their first competition after this hiatus was for the Olympic qualification.

The two girls made history for being the first sister team to compete in the event, and SA is made additionally proud for sending two artistic gymnasts to the Olympics for the first time in history. This will also be the first time since 2004 that female gymnasts from SA will be representing their country at the Olympic Games. South Africa and Egypt took the top spots and will represent the attending countries at the games. 

Rand at record high

For those working in the financial services industry, volatility in currency is not always a good thing. And despite opportunities this present, it’s also not something to place long-term bets on.

But for ordinary South Africans who simply need to import goods, book new accommodation or flights for cancelled travel plans or those who need to exchange some Rands abroad, the soaring Rand is a breath of fresh air.

At the time of writing this article, the rand stood at R13,43 to the USD – rates we’d not seen in years. Of course, South Africans are aware that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on the prospects of economic stability or triumph – and a strong Rand does have negative implications in other arenas – but we’re willing to take this small sigh of relief under the current circumstances.

South Africa invents oxygen delivery device

Covid has seen many medical advancements, interventions and innovations this year, and the same holds true locally.

A collaborative effort between engineers and doctors based in East London, Eastern Cape, saw the development and manufacturing of a specialised medical device now used and distributed internationally for the delivery of oxygen to Covid-19 patients.

The device, called OxERA (Oxygen-Efficient Respiratory Aid), is unique for being cost-efficient and portable while delivering high levels of oxygen to patients with collapsed lungs. Unlike conventional devices of this kind, OxERA does not require highly-qualified ICU-trained staff to operate the device, nor does it require ICU facilities.

The inventors state that it is an effective bridge between ICU-based non-invasive mechanical ventilation and ordinary oxygen therapy.

Following the success of the device locally, it’s been distributed to hospitals and clinics in Zimbabwe, the DRC and CAR by Umoya-Gabler Consortium.

Unexpected humour

Humour – whether appropriate or inappropriate – is a coping mechanism. We need it, we use it and we apply it when things are going rough. The past year has sparked a wild ride of memes and jokes locally and globally. In South Africa we all had mighty laughs at the antics of our politicians, despite often dire consequences of their actions.

These jokes have been seen, shared and experienced globally. We are aware of the dire state of things, but despite that we want to laugh.

One such novel instance comes from Twitter user @Jorrdyyyy on Twitter shared an unexpectedly wholesome tweet which has since gone viral. She stated that an ER visit which saw her highly emotional and crying prompted a nurse to offer her phone to Jordy. And what did she offer it for?

Well, the nurse told Jordy to pick the best matches on Tinder and weed out the inappropriate ones in an effort to distract Jordy from her emotional upheaval.

Covid-19 Elephant Baby Boom

We’ve previously noted how nature has recovered in certain parts of the world due to diminished traffic, activity and access as a result of the pandemic.

The Amboseli National Park in Kenya is home to many wild animals, but its pride and joy is the African elephant.

And amid a global pandemic, the park has seen a record number of elephant births. Although the bulk of this record is not attributed to the lack of human activity and proximity, it is certainly cited as a factor in the growth of elephant numbers.

The start of the boom was attributed to two good rainy seasons in 2018 and 2019, but the Director of Biodiversity, Research & Planning at Kenya Wildlife Services, Patrick Omondi, has stated that Covid has boosted the positive growth rate to 100%. He states that Covid has definitely slowed illegal trading and exports to foreign nations. Unfortunately, desperation has also led many locals to poach wildlife due to the lack of income under the pandemic – but this poaching has been few and far between. He’s hoping that the growth rate and flourishing wildlife will maintain its positive trajectory.

The Springboks win…on home turf

One thing which has definitely been a contentious issue of late is political polarisation. And part of this polarisation has to do with racial incitement and dissent. We see it across our news feeds – on social media and on the streets.

So it is an absolute joy to hear of the Black Management Forum honouring the Springboks with a special Presidential Award.

Andile Nomlala had the following to say at the awards ceremony:

“In the words of former President Nelson Mandela, sport has the power to change the world, and in the context of the Springboks victory in 2019, sport has the power to display progress in transforming not just itself, but the country at large. Given the historical roots of the game and its exclusionary nature, the 2019 Rugby World Cup win has opened the door to more meaningful transformation in sport. The World Cup win for the Springboks elevates the transformation reality that black people can excel in the sport and become key components of the team in ensuring victory.”

Although many people still attempt to uphold the idea of segregation in sports in SA, the Black Management Forum acknowledges that this is not the case, and that cooperation and teamwork is occurring within South African sports.

Access for all

The pandemic has not only pushed us all online, despite our reservations, but it’s prompted mass investment in innovations and advancements in digital applications, accessibility and distribution.

On a very rudimentary level, ISPs, governments and global tech giants have offered free or zero-rated access to certain platforms and services which had never been globally accessible. On a high-level, innovations have seen a sudden focus on UX and UI to accommodate accessibility for all.

This may seem rather intuitive to the layman, but the fact of the matter is that some of these innovations are things that people with accessibility issues have been begging for, for eons.

It makes sense that businesses would focus their funding and development on those issues experienced by the bulk of their clients. So user interface, customer service and other issues commonly experienced by people with disabilities, deficiencies, syndromes or mental health concerns on the fringes aren’t things most businesses would spend much time on.

The sudden influx of individuals of all capacities across the globe into applications has forced many companies to make rapid improvements to usability features previously neglected, which has inadvertently boosted accessibility for those who need it.

CoCT proves that the Mahomet will go to the mountain

The past few months have changed the face of business irrevocably, and this is particularly true for the tourism industry. What do you do when you don’t have actual visitors?

In 1643, Sir Francis Bacon wrote an essay which would become famous in philosophy and literature. A particular statement from this essay reads:

“If the mountain will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will goe to the mountain.”

This famous text around needs-driven activity has been demonstrated quite literally by the City of Cape Town – famous for its mountain – driving remote visa employment.

Amid a slack year with miserable tourism numbers, many destinations reliant on tourism have been wondering how to tackle the lack of people.

Following research, the City’s Mayoral Committee for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management noted an opportunity amid the dire conditions of trade – digital nomads.

By urging businesses to accept remote workers and international business collaborations, Cape Town is one of the trailblazers in ensuring lasting intercontinental and global engagement, interaction and attraction. The CoCT is hoping to make remote work visas a stock standard in SA and has research to prove its efficacy.

It has shown how the European country Estonia has managed to boost its economy by becoming the number one global remote working spot. The research further proves that digital nomads tend to visit their remote working locations and stay far longer than the typical 90-days which classify them as digital nomads.

The City’s perseverance has paid off, as it was recently voted one of the prime spots for remote working globally.

A connected humanity

We’re all aware of the controversies, arguments and polarity playing out across the world and on social media forums, but Covid-19 has expedited progress in one particular way – global connectedness.

There are four factors which have contributed to this rapid globalisation:

  1. changing practices
  2. isolation
  3. accessibility
  4. empathy
  5. adaptation

Covid-19 had seen us change practices ranging from socialisation and business, to admin and information-sharing. Though many people had been inclined to operate online before, international lockdown meant that the bulk of global society suddenly had to move online, and had to do so fairly swiftly.

In addition to the necessity for such remote and online functionality, our individual isolation has prompted many of us to seek out more interaction from fellow humans. The ‘fixes’ many people got from outdoor excursions, exercise, hobbies and so forth, could no longer be maintained in the same way and so many people have been prompted to seek this emotional upliftment from other humans online.

In 2019, many businesses and applications offered online functionality, but this did not comprise the bulk of business. It is as if a new industrial revolution was prompted by an absolute necessity for remote interaction – something which many businesses wouldn’t even contemplate before. And the past year has proven that offices are really not a requirement for productivity.

The past year-and-a-half has also been a period of global shared trauma and mental challenge. The world faced a villain not previously confronted. Despite the polarisation, individuals who would normally not have connected have found solace in each other’s shared grief – whether it be loss of life, loss of income, loss of connection or some other personal trauma. Facebook and other social media platforms have seen a massive influx and creation of highly specific social groups where people with similar interests, problems or traumas can connect and uplift each other, forgive each other and empower each other.

The last factor, adaptation, has also led to a rapid rise in interest and participation in various crafting, DIY, gardening, recycling, upcycling and construction groups. People have been acquiring skills and showcasing these at rates never seen before. And these skills and experiences are shared globally on a scale never witnessed before.

This globalisation on a digital front has not only connected people, but proven to rapidly eliminate borders and stereotypes regarding regional cultures, languages, intellect, efficiency, technology and so forth. People across continents and country borders are seeking a common ground for connection.

Though Covid has locked us down within borders, humans have proven that it cannot cut us off from each other.

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