2021 marks the second year in a row where ordinary celebrations to usher in a new year have been marred by a deadly pandemic.
For many, Covid-19 also means loved ones have been lost.
In President Cyril Ramaphosa’s New Year’s address to the nation on Friday, he said that for many families, today will be a sad reminder of what they have lost.
“In many homes tonight, there’s an empty space which was once occupied by a father, a mother, a sister, a brother, a child or a parent. We pray for them all, for those who have passed away, those who are ill, and those who have lost loved ones.”
The festive season has brought little cheer for many, especially those hit hard by Covid-19, in the form of job losses, with millions struggling to put food on the table.
Millions more, however, continue to suffer under the unabated violence perpetrated against women and children, one of the many issues Ramaphosa committed to fight in 2022.
“We’ve had to weather many storms this past year, yet as we greet a new year, we know better times are on the horizon. Not withstanding the difficulties of 2021, there is much to be thankful for.”
Among these, Ramaphosa said, was the resilience of South Africa’s democracy, and the ability of South Africans to come together in a time of crisis.
He also expressed gratitude to frontline healthcare workers, paramedics, emergency personnel, police, soldiers and volunteers, as well as the “pioneering” work conducted by the scientific and academic fraternity regarding Covid-19.
Ramaphosa thanked pupils and educators for once again toughing out another challenging year, and Good Samaritans for helping those in need.
He vowed to rebuild the economy, create work and fight poverty and hunger.
“May the year 2022 be one in which we spare neither strength nor courage to build SA going forward. Let us build a better South Africa based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
“Let us take to heart the words of our beloved Desmond Mpilo Tutu when he said: “ Do your little bit of good where you are. It is those little bits of good put together that can overwhelm the world.”
“As we welcome new year, I wish you all joy, happiness, prosperity and peace.”
Watch Ramaphosa’s full New Year’s address, courtesy of SABC News, below:
Compiled by Nica Richards