Ed’s note: This post is a contribution from Adam Currie who currently lives in the UK and cast his vote yesterday in the 2009 SA Elections.
Well the time had come….
Sitting on mud island, an entire time zone and continent away does not set exactly set the tone for making oneself feel “Seffrican”. But none the less after months of facebook reminder bombardments, news website updates and at least 3 phone calls to a confused and clueless South Africa House, the election was upon us…well abroad anyways.
I must admit that after hearing of the random Afrikaner teacher preaching his democratic rights, and even more random Freedom Front filing court orders to the nation’s highest courts, I never quite did believe that there would be a positive result. But there we were… lined up outside South African House Trafalgar Square with 1 x green ID, 1 x passport and 7000 x other Saffa’s ready to, for lack of a better cliché, make our mark.
Calls from mates mid afternoon with tales of horror story delays of 2 hours plus, I trekked up the Northern Line expecting the worst and asking myself is it all worth it? I joined the queue and prepared for a scrum of sweaty bodies on London’s hottest day of the year (20 degrees baby!). But wait…what was this? People lined up patiently…an orderly line with the only shouting being that of the South Africa Times vendor yelling out for anyone wanting free copies.
I wish I could tell you that stories of nostalgia, visions of apartheid uprisings or even passing Madiba’s statue on the way to the embassy inspired me to place my vote…but I can’t. All through my life I have been bombarded with messages dictating that we are the “lucky” generation, and that this vote is a privilege. However I think not. I consider it not a privilege but a right and feel that the real stalwarts of the struggle would be proud of that mindset. If Sisulu and Tambo thought that a white boy standing next to his black brother in a vote for the nation’s leadership, and thinking nothing of it, I reckon they would turn to each other and give each other a good pat on the back…struggle won.
Of course we should remember and respect what was done leading up to a democracy, however at the same time we must put them where they belong…in thoughts, prayers and history books. In that queue we stood, black, white, coloured…and, occasionally, some lost Spanish tourist thinking it was the queue for the gallery. We stood alongside each other in jovial spirits chuffed at the fact we were allowed to make a difference- no matter how small- to the land that we love and for 90 percent of people there- the land that we WILL return. People often claim that expats should not be allowed to vote in that they have ‘turned their backs’ on the country. Well the procession outside SA House begged to differ as thousands lined the streets to cast their vote for a country they truly hold dear and I have no doubt will experience a brain flood (note the way I reversed brain drain there…sharp wasn’t it?) within the coming years.
The process was smooth as the line shifted inside with African flashbacks of Home Affairs beginning to make me tremble…but to no avail. The vibe was organised and efficient and within minutes I stood, purple marker scarred hand and ready to (insert cheesy political party signboard slogan here). I stepped up to the booth…had a giggle at some of the parties listed (come on….some are hilarious- I mean surely no one actually votes KISS) and marked my X. The entire build up was over…political debates from the finest minds in the land and months of campaigning for those brief few seconds had culminated in a sweet victory for me…the Seffrican abroad.
This is what election should be about. People lining up and savouring the spirit of the occasion, check political agendas at the door, walking in and placing their trust in a party that will cater for the masses. I often am amazed when Saffa’s bad mouth home. You get the occasional punter preaching how South Africa will descend into chaos and that classic “tsk tsk…we will go the way of Zim” remark…however these are clearly the okes that could not function a fax machine to apply for their vote, as everyone there CARED. Usually you only get that sort of vibe come Springbok games down the pub, however there it was…election queue and all.
When my British colleagues say that I should be grateful I got to cast my vote, my response is ‘why’? Why should I feel grateful that I am doing something that every South Africa should does have the right to do? The beauty of democracy and the one that I have grown up in makes me believe that this process is sacred yes, but also my right. So I say congrats to the freedom fighters of yesteryear, a massive thanks to the people at the voting station for a successful day…. and to note to all political leaders for next times overseas votes- boerie roll stand outside the embassy can guarantee you a majority!
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Popularity: 3% [?]