It’s that time of year again when Best / Worst Lists do the rounds. And who-said-what that was memorable / embarrassing / downright outrageous, and so forth. Isn’t it intriguing how we always find ourselves doing this little stocktake as the blocks on the last grimy page of the calendar start hopping rapidly to the left of Today. The fervour to name bests and worsts is global; everywhere people are chalking up the Cool and the Uncool of the year that’s slipping away.

Here are South Africa’s 10 Bests – a shortened version of the original from South Africa The Good News – who can always to be relied upon for a good shot of optimism. So let’s clink glasses to South Africa’s 10 Bests, as listed on

1. SA pupils win International Kids Literary Quiz.

Manor Gardens Primary School in Durban won the national Kids Literary Quiz (the first government school worldwide to win a national Kids Literature quiz), and went to New Zealand where they also won the international tournament.

2. SA growth outlook ‘highly promising’

In a Merril Lynch (Bank of America) report published in September, South Africa was declared to have one of the best economic outlooks amongst EMEA countries for the next 10 years.

3. Cape Town named World Design Capital 2014 (plus, plus plus)

Cape Town came up trumps by being named Top Tourist destination by the Travelers Choice Destinations awards, best destination in Africa at the World Tourism awards, runner up in the Daily Telegraph Travel Awards, Table Mountain was named a New7Wonders of Nature wonder of the world, but arguably the best achievement was being named World Design Capital 2014.

4. Rural learner takes top honours at 2011 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

Palesa Masuku, a Grade 11 learner from a rural community near Rustenberg, won the 2011 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists and was rewarded with a trip to the 2012 London International Youth Science Fair. Her winning discovery was that marula nuts could be used as an alternative energy source.

5. Gautrain punctuality ‘world class’

Great stuff.

6. Michaela Mycroft wins International Children’s Peace Prize

Michaela (Chaeli) Mycroft from Cape Town won the International Children’s Peace Prize in November. She was born with Cerebral Palsy, and since the age of 9, she has been fundraising with the help of her sister and friends, first for her own motorised wheelchair, and then to help other disabled children. The Chaeli Campaign helps more than 3000 children with disabilities in South Africa every year. 

 7. Boost for local producers

Government, unions and the private sector all signed a deal committing the country to raising its target of procuring locally manufactured goods to 75%.

8. New Arms deal inquiry welcomed

President Zuma’s announcement in September of the new inquiry in the hugely controversial Arms deal was widely welcomed across the country.

9. Scientists find green method to purify toxic water

This breakthrough was made by a team at the University of Cape Town, and could greatly reduce the harmful impact industry has on water pollution.

10. Police pledge nears R2.1 million mark

The R2.1-million in pledges to the Widows and Orphans Fund for Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) is nearing its goal, with over R1.8-million in the bank so far. The money has been earmarked to assist the families of police officers who died in the line of duty this year.

Read More. What were 2011’s high points for you?