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UJ: Happiness Index for South Africa — Anger, Disgust and Fear soar while Happiness drops far below the average

The emotions of Anger, Disgust and Fear, increased far above average levels with the announcement of stage 6 load-shedding, and the Happiness of South Africans’ dropped below the average of 6.85 (2022) to only 6.44 on Sunday, 18 September 2022 (see figure 1). The Index is at its lowest level since April 2022. The negative emotions, as seen from the tweets (see table 1), reflect disappointment, anger and distrust of government officials, and fear of further increases in unemployment and poverty.

The Happiness levels are measured using the GNH (Gross National Happiness). today Index ( The project was launched in April 2019 by Prof Talita Greyling (University of Johannesburg), Dr Stephanie Rossouw (Auckland University of Technology) and Afstereo to measure the real-time emotions and happiness levels of South Africans. They construct the indices by extracting real-time tweets from Twitter, encoding them using Natural Language Processing (machine learning methods) and applying a balancing algorithm to derive Happiness and eight emotion measures per hour. The project received the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Innovation in 2021. Furthermore, the data was accepted as official statistical data by New Zealand, the world leader in well-being policy.

Figure 1: Gross National Happiness of South Africa (10-18 September 2022)


Source: Project ((


Examples of the tweets that showed anger, disgust and fear (note: the tweet text is the original text as extracted from Twitter):

Table 1: Tweets extracted from Twitter related to load-shedding

  • Eskom wants to see us suffering. Might as well have no electricity forever, so we can finally adjust to living in a country with no power. We’ll accept reality and not have this consistent tinkling of hope that things will get better. We’ll figure out a way to survive
  • Eskom the sick man of South Africa. Diagnosis: incurable blackout disease. Prognosis: imminent death of the power station
  • Corruption, mismanagement, state capture and bad governance have serious consequences!


  • Stage 6 Loadshedding will hit harder job creation prospects and hurt the economy further.
  • My sister, why would we need to be angrier? It is not like the majority aren’t routinely voting for the same party into power despite the multitude of glaring deficiencies. Many of us, me included, have voted for them. And unexplainably, many will still vote for them!
  • The worst thing about reading the power updates is the feeling of absolute hopelessness
  • Cyril Ramaphosa went to the Queen’s funeral and now Mbalula went to Qatar and we are sitting with no electricity and communities are mourning the Pongola tragedy.
  • It’s gonna be a tough week. Many businesses will collapse, many businesses will lose clients & losses of profits. May this week come & go already as we seek prosperity & blessings from Him. #Loadshedding  #Stage6
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