South Africa may not have a NASA, or a Louvre. We may not be considered a first world country by traditional standards, but we still have loads to be proud of. Our unique mix of cultures and our legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship has yielded many pioneering concepts, practices and inventions.

Just look at Elon Musk, Mark Shuttleworth and Chris Barnard. Indeed, there are few things that fill us with such patriotic glee as the realisation that, in many ways, South Africa has been first…

South African firsts

Jan Smuts
The only person to sign the treaties ending both World Wars I and II.

Wine route
The R62 wine route in South Africa is the longest wine route in the world.

Kreepy krauly
The invention that turned the swimming pool into a side project for dads and a creepy adventure for kids was, in fact, invented by Ferdinand Chauvier from Springs in 1974.

CAT scan
Designed by Cape Town physicist Allan Cormack and his associate Godfrey Hounsfield. They received a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their invention which has saved countless lives across the globe.

Pratley putty
Accidentally invented by George Pratley when trying to invent a glue to secure components in an electric box. It was so successful, it was used during the 1969 Moon landing to hold pieces of the landing craft together. Of course, today, we use it to keep our windows in their panes.

Q20
If it doesn’t squeak, thank South African, Mr. Roberts from Pinetown, who invented Q20 to remove water from distributor caps in the old VW Beetle.

Rooibos tea
Uniquely South African and grows only in the Cederberg area of Western Cape.

Computicket
The world’s first computerised ticketing provider.

Human heart transplant
First performed successfully by Dr Chris Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in 1967.

Afrikaans
The youngest language in the world was first recognised as an official language in 1952.

Affordable solar power
Professor Vivian Alberts from the University of Johannesburg has reinvented solar
electricity, making it five times less expensive than solar photovoltaic cells.

Denel rooivalk
This attack helicopter was manufactured by Denel Aviation to assist in the border war. The first XH-1 took to the skies in February 1985.

Of course, we have loads more to be proud of – we boast some of the world’s most progressive human rights, oldest paleontological finds and greatest heritage sites. But what makes our country special to each of us is not necessarily these grand feats – its our spirit of ubuntu, our love of a good braai, cheering together at a game of ruggas and the way we band together to fight social injustices. It’s tearing up when we hear Johnny Clegg or Toto’s Africa because, no matter where we are in the world, we’ll always be proudly South African.

This will always be home.

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