Starting new year with lots of gratitude


28 June 2020

Mongadi Mafata

Irecently celebrated my birthday, which was rather muted given the Coronavirus stranglehold the world is operating under.

There were fewer balloons, fewer candles to blow  and cheaper champagne to toast with. But that didn’t take away the significance of the day. It was heart-warming to be the recipient of loving and kind messages from family and friends.

After opening the presents and eating the cake, I started drafting a list in my mind of all the things that I’m grateful for. The list became too long. I needed to write things down but everyday something new that I’m thankful for surfaced.

If I were my body, I would have long left given the years of abuse, youthful boozing experiments, a woeful lack of exercise, bad eating habits and questionable hygiene practices (why must we bath before bed?). But I’m grateful my body has stuck with me all these years. It has carried me during the horrors of apartheid, the dreaminess of BEE and now the “misallocation” of COVID-19 relief billions.

It has been so faithful at its job that people don’t realise that I’m fast approaching the time to look up Sassa’s number for a pensioner’s grant.

I’m not the most social of animals in this zoo. I’m grateful for my immediate family, those who became family after cows were delivered, kindergarten friends who’ve surfed all the emotional waves from my direction and still answered my calls despite the abuse, and WhatsApp group members who have had to endure my outbursts for sharing newspaper PDFs on the social media platform and twisting the knife on an already bleeding print media industry.

The smart people at Statistics SA say that national unemployment is above 30%, but we know the numbers are much higher. I am grateful I still have a job. There have been heart-breaking tales of how people lost theirs as companies cut staff to stay afloat during the economic lull caused by the Coronavirus.

Although my humble abode is not facing the sea and I don’t wake up to the sounds of dolphins singing in the ocean, I have a refuge from the winter chills, the Highveld rains and the nose-bleed-inducing summer sun.

There have been people who have taken their time, skill, money and wisdom, and dedicated all of that to ensuring that I don’t succumb to self-harm. They have done that without expecting a reward. Sometimes I have spurned their wise counsel. These are the people who helped me regain my sanity, faith and direction. My miniscule offerings of thanksgiving do not suffice for these lifeguards.

I’m glad I’m starting off my new year on a note of gratitude. There’s so much to be thankful for, and so many people I’m indebted to. Enkosi.

  • Mafata is a Johannesburg-based communicator. He writes in his personal capacity.



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