This year was captured by Marelize

  • Howard Feldman 2018
TS Eliot would have been proud of 2019. He would have sat up straight and taken notice. About the year that was, Eliot could never have written his now famous words, “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Dec 12, 2019

Although poetry is immortal and timeless, his words do little to capture the essence of the past few months.

Eliot would have gotten it completely wrong had he lived through the past 12 months. Which for a poet (social commentator or blogger of that time), would have been problematic. He would have lost all credibility, because if anything, 2019 is leaving us with a bang, not a whimper.

Perhaps there is another poet who could do better.

In the dying days of the year alone, load shedding stage 6 visited us for a few hours. Pretoria and many parts of Johannesburg have experienced unprecedented flooding, with rescues being conducted to get people to safety. The national airline, South African Airways, has gone into business rescue, and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, we are told, is being administered (whatever that means). In the same month, Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa was crowned Miss Universe, and Charlize Theron was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. And it’s not even the 15th of the month.

Earlier in the year, the Ndlovu Youth Choir made South Africans proud by making it to the finals of America’s Got Talent. The Bokke united the country in an almost unprecedented way by winning the Rugby World Cup, and by showing the country that together we are stronger. And if that wasn’t enough, it was also then that South Africa introduced Prince Harry to local beer and cheer, and proudly exposed South Africa’s finest - or undies (maybe “speedo”) - decorated with the flag, thankfully at half-mast.

2019 has been the year that saw South Africans get funnier - Trevor Noah aside. In March this year, a young woman, Marelize, struggling to ride a bicycle, was filmed riding into a goal post by her mother. The field was empty, which made the likelihood of her being able to hit into the pole much less likely than hitting it. But she did. And as she graciously smashed into that pole and then fell over, the video records her mom saying the now immortal words, “My f*k Marelize!” 

TS Eliot couldn’t have captured the moment better than her mom did. In fact, if anything says 2019, it’s the words of the mom as she watched her daughter ride towards the rugby post on that empty field somewhere in Namibia, and then, as if drawn by an invisible force, smash headlong into it.

2019 might be the year that South Africa won the world cup, it might be the year in which SAA failed, and it might be the year of Zozibini Tunzi, but there’s little doubt that it is Marelize and her mom who captured the sentiment with three immortal words.

This is my last column for the SA Jewish Report in a year that hasn’t been easy for anyone. Through it all, however, we managed to see the absurdity of it all. We managed to laugh at things that were too serious to get upset about. It’s the year that proved that together, indeed, we are stronger and funnier.

I wish us all a good and safe holiday. I wish us all a successful 2020. May we be guided by G-d, and may we listen to His council.


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