Not this time...

Not this time...

Today my beautiful country will go an vote in the general election. I won’t. I could if I really wanted to but I decided not to vote. Why? Well, two reasons really.

Firstly, I don’t believe that South African living abroad should vote. WTF? Yes, you heard me right. I don’t think they should allow me and the others outside South Africa to vote. And no, it’s not because so many South Africans abroad moan and bitches so much about South Africa. It’s a fair point though… Why should you vote if all you want is the “good old days” of Apartheid and/or have nothing good to say about the “new” South Africa? But hell, everyone should be allowed their opinion so I won’t hold it against them or withhold their right to vote. For me it is a simple matter of economics.

We are not a rich country by any stretch of the imagination. Somewhere in the middle. Not Gabon but not Luxembourg either. I just see every single Rand (or Dollar) being spend on having someone vote in a foreign outpost in Vietnam or somewhere as a waste. That money could provide drugs for someone dying of Aids. Or maybe help put another cop on the street to stop the rape. Or feed a hungry street kid. Why should the money go to a few South Africans who could “afford” to go overseas? And if you do it for one person in one country then you have to do it for all of them in every single country. You can’t just pick the UK and the US because there are so many South Africans there. Nope – that would be discriminating against the minority hanging out in Venezuela or Fiji somewhere. You know how much money is going to be wasted giving those 16,000 odd people the chance to vote? Yes, that is how many South African abroad registered to vote. Millions of Rands going to a few…

And don’t give me that crap about the government wasting money on other things like the stupid arms deal or some big fancy party. Remember what your mother used to say? “Are you going to jump in the fire if they do?” Two wrongs don’t make a right. And two stupid actions don’t make either of them right. They are wrong and so are you. At least stop moaning about their waste if you do go and vote or fought for your right to vote in a foreign country. You are part of the waste cycle now. I hope you are proud.

Talking about the South African government…

My second reason…

I have been an ANC supporter for most of my life. Proudly so. And that is why I can’t go and vote this time. I have always voted for them but no more…

I don’t like Zuma. He is a bad reflection on the “struggle”. I remember listening to him at a COSATU conference many years back. Man… Man, man, man. I looked at my “comrades” and we just shook our heads. He was one stupid dude. Sorry to say it but that was what we thought back then and we said it out loud. And I am ashamed that my same COSATU buddies are supporting him. A snake oil seller. You’ve been duped brothers and sisters. Hum… I mean comrades.

I know the ANC is never about a single leader. It has always been about the movement. The movement to bring an end to Apartheid and give every South African the same rights. But leaders do play a role. They lead our people. Zuma? How can he lead us? He is a populist who showed his ignorance during the rape case against him. Yes he got away with that one. And even if he is innocent – tell me how can we make someone our President who thinks that washing yourself afterwards will stop the spread of Aids? Oh, he didn’t deny sleeping with the young girl who was a family friend. He just said it was a “mutual thing”. Real proud guys. Real proud…

And maybe he got a “get out of jail card” with the corruption charges. Maybe he didn’t take any money. Maybe Mbeki planned it all. So what? Being innocent doesn’t make him a leader. It just makes him innocent. Zuma is no leader. Not a leader to be proud of. Not a leader who can really carry the hope of our young nation on his shoulders.

So that’s why I don’t want to vote. I am an ANC man through and through. The DA is a bunch of weaklings that reminds me of those yapping little dogs. Lots of noise but you know they don’t have any substance. I’ve had the “pleasure” to work with a few of them and boy… Let me tell you… They are lightweight and “skelm“. (Skelm – not to be trusted, devious.) I don’t trust them as far as what I can throw a rock at them.

It leaves me with very few choices. The PAC doesn’t mean anything anymore. A leadership vacuum that slurps up the dirt left behind. Patricia could do it but she is a one-woman show. UDM… Bantu… Puh-leeze. An ex-General from the homelands? Get real! COPE? Maybe. Just maybe. I like Terror. He’s a good one. But I don’t know enough about them right now. They are still young. Hopefully the true soul of the ANC. Hopefully the new ANC going back to our roots. But it’s too early to tell. For now I must sit on the sidelines and watch my once proud movement slowly kill itself. Falling off the moral high ground. And it’s a long way down.

I love my country. I loved the ANC (and maybe one day we can meet up again.) But not Zuma. Not for me. Not for my country. Not now. Not ever.

No more “Long Live the ANC! ” or “Viva ANC!” or “Amandla ANC!” for me. I’ll sit and watch and see if the soul is still there. I don’t see it from over here. But you never know. You just never know. We always said that the struggle was bigger than one person. Let’s see if the ANC still believes in that. I’ll be waiting…

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You know I have written quite a bit about gay rights. Actually, it still irritates the living hell out of me that I even have to talk about “gay rights”. As if it is a different set of rights than “normal” rights… Anyway, you might remember The Idiot’s Guide to Bigotry and The Gay Agenda. Or that time I wanted to say Just One More Thing… Actually, gay issues have been central to many posts over here. Present every time I talk about justice and equality.

Why? Why would a “straight” guy like me even bother? I am happily married to a woman. This isn’t my issue, right? Actually it is. It is core to who I am. I hate it when anyone is being oppressed or their rights limited and denied. I am “white” (wow, big surprize – shades of white in any case), but I hate racism. I am a man (really!), but I hate how women are being put down by society in general. My rights as a human being is in danger and threatened each and every time a fellow human being does not have their rights respected. I am discriminated against when they are discriminated against. Argh! I get pissed off when I have to write about this. This is so stupid. WTF? Wake up people! We are talking basic human rights here! You are threatening MY rights when you deny someone else their rights. Ubuntu, remember? I am because we are…

Anyway… I can feel another blog about this coming up damn soon. (The anger is starting to flow back.) But not today. Today I want to remind you about the battles in California and Florida this election. The battle for equal rights. I have no clue how a country that preaches liberty, freedom and equal rights can even have this kind of “voting”. Some things are not open to public opinion. Should you have a vote on whether woman should have the right to work? Or whether African Americans should be able to study? Or whether Latinos should be able to vote? Maybe your right to own property? Or to have kids? Or whether theft should be allowed? Should people be able to murder when they feel like it? No. And neither should the right of two people to marry be open to debate. Certain things are just stupid to debate. And this is one of them.

Remember, you don’t have to like it to accept it. I don’t like blatant racism being spewed out at meetings or in the public in general. But I know my rights are protected because their rights are protected. Hey, I don’t even have to like you but I can accept the fact that you have the same rights as me. Don’t like it… Just live with it…

Whether Americans truly believe in equality, freedom and liberty will be put to the test in California and Florida this election. Proposition 8 and Amendment 2 are both about what America stands for. Truly stands for. Not the issues. But whether America is true to its word… Freedom, equality and liberty for all. These two pieces of bigotry must be defeated. We have no choice. If these two pieces of crap wins it is not only a step backwards for America but will send a message to the world that discrimination is still okay. Kill Christians in India? No problem if that is who you hate. Blow up bombs in Israel? No problem if that is the group you want to target. Shoot fellow Muslims in Iraq? Hey, go ahead if that is how you feel. Jail rights activists in China? Make my day. Remember, discrimination is only one step away from persecution…

But we don’t always have to do it in anger. Sometimes we can poke a bit of fun at how stupid this is. And someone did! And they were so bloody good at it that the Boston Comedy Festival gave them the audience award. Yeah. Good old Boston. Always ahead of the pack – I had to rub that in a bit.

9in10dotorg made brilliantly funny and creative short comedies to show the stupidity of it all. They are helping to fight this bigotry. And to stop the California and Florida restrictions on rights be executed. But they did it in a very, very funny way. Go and have a look and share with other.

This one is in favor of gay marriages, but not for the reason you think. Damn funny!

And this one is against it. But look at the backdrop. Haha!

Like I said. We can make our anger be funny as well. You want some more gay-themed shorts? Go and have a look at their site. Some funny and some not. But everything to the point. Just click the pic…

The vote for justice is coming. There shouldn’t be a vote. But there is. Go out and show the world what America really stand for. Go and fight for the rights, equality, liberty and freedom for every American. Your choice. You either go back in time or you can go and make history. Your choice. Don’t do it for “them”. Do it for yourself. And your rights.

I can’t vote. But I wish I could. To protect my rights. And to protect those rights I would vote to give everyone else the same rights as me. To live with the one you love. In marriage.

Stand by your fellow Americans…  …in sickness and in health… …’til death do us apart…

No. I don’t mean the dude with the long hair claiming to be Jesus. You know, the guy on the corner with the placards telling us tomorrow is the day when it all ends. The closest he will ever come to be Jesus is when someone walks past and whispers the word followed by a shake of the head. No, I am talking about this American Presidential election. Who would Jesus vote for?

Also note that I am not talking about God, but specifically Jesus. Very Christian of me isn’t it? But there is a reason. The majority of Americans see themselves as Christian so it makes more sense looking at the election from a Jesus perspective. I won’t go into the 3-in-1 detail. Let’s just assume for a minute we can talk about Jesus from the New Testament. And Protestant to push it a bit further. So we’ll leave it at the Jesus vote.

But we have a few technical difficulties trying to figure out who He would vote for. It’s not as if He has a very visible way of delivering the message. No radio show. No television channel where He talks directly to the nation. No website or blog. Not even a Facebook Group Page. Not a single phone number we can call or a mobile we can text. Nope, we have prayer. But even then… He doesn’t talk directly to us now does He? He doesn’t answer in a big booming voice like in the movies. Nope. The only voices we hear when praying is from the television or, at worse, the voices in our heads.

So we are stuck with a few guys (why always men?) who claim to have a direct line to Him. Yeah… Right… You would think that He would be a bit more direct in His approach instead of selecting a few guys to connect to. Why select them and not me? What the heck did I do wrong? (Okay, don’t answer that.) Isn’t it easier to just talk to all of us instead of selecting a few suspicious guys with weird hairdos? Problem is they all claim that they have the sole line to Him. You know – they are close to Him. Close friends. Almost buddies. If He was here they will play golf together. At least watch the ballgame together, right? But not the others. Problem is there is no way we can really trust these guys now can we?

Me? I generally have a bit of a problem with people delivering a message when they ask for money and/or drive big fancy cars and live in big fancy houses. Don’t like a wise ass who claims to have all the answers. It smells. And especially when they get caught with the hand in the cookie jar or other body parts hanging out with a prostitute. Don’t trust them. Never have and never will. Sorry Hagee, Robertson and gang. You don’t have a line directly to Him. Not even AT&T reaches that far. And you stretch it a bit far with your calls in any case.

But we have another bit of an issue raising its ugly head. Another thing that stops us from knowing where He would put His electronic vote or hanging tag. (Would have been nice to say where He makes His cross, but not with technology today.). Even if it came down to Him He could not have the swing vote. Because he would not be able to vote. You see, Jesus isn’t American. The last time I checked he wasn’t born around here. And I doubt whether He will be able to get citizenship based on current immigration laws. (Open debate whether He would want citizenship in any case. He is a global citizen.) Hey, He’ll have problems just getting into the country. Laws are strict and I doubt whether immigration officials will look to kindly on His application. “Son of God? Yeah, right.”

He wasn’t American. So I guess He wasn’t a Republican or a Democrat either…

But let’s stretch it a bit more and say He could vote or at the very least influence your vote. Who would He vote for? Or rather, who would He want you to vote for?

His answer would most likely be a classic. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Think about it. Why would He care who you vote for? He doesn’t really care that much about who rules you. He cares more about how you rule yourself. Doesn’t He? He made few political statements in the Bible – except for telling us to basically pay our taxes. Yeah, He picked the one thing we hate the most about government – taxes. The rest of the stuff? He was more into you I guess. Sad, but true. He put the bar pretty low.

It makes life a bit more complicated doesn’t it? Telling you to look at yourself and what you think and do. Not to worry too much about what other people are doing. Not what we really wanted to hear. We like moaning and bitching about other people more than looking in the mirror. Come on, help us out here a bit. Who would You vote for? Just this time? Please?

Dead quiet on the other side. Still nothing.

Because, like I said, He doesn’t really care that much about who you vote for. He is more into the personal stuff. What’s in your head. Sad. All of a sudden you have to worry more about who you are than who the other guy might be. But at least you can now vote for whoever you want. Right?

Most likely – how would I know? Trust me, I do not have a direct line. He doesn’t even tell you much about voting. A few basic rules for life and that’s all. You know. Those pesky Ten Commandments. No amendments. No fine print. No “buts” or “ifs”. Just the Big Ten. Don’t have other gods – television and money included. (Remember those taxes…) No idols. Yep, that includes the Pop Idol version I guess. Don’t use His name too often. Or at least out of context. Take it easy on a Sunday. Hope you don’t have to vote on a Sunday. And check the shopping please. The father and mother one is pretty easy. At least at Thanksgiving when everyone gets together… Don’t murder. Even worse when you are Catholic – they use the word kill. So try not to fight too much. Someone might get hurt. Don’t sleep around. Or look too closely at girl next door or the house. Don’t steal. Note – no small print that said you could keep the change when the teller makes a mistake… And don’t spread lies about other people. Short for “stop lying and talking bull about other people – be informed or shut the hell up.”

That should be straight forward. Not all is relevant to an election though now is it? Maybe the stuff like the murdering or killing. Or talking crap. Sorry, I mean lying. But even then – who would Jesus vote for?

No one. He doesn’t care about governments. Or countries for that matter. It’s just you baby.

The election matters. But it doesn’t matter. He won’t ask you who you voted for once you get up there. If you get up there… If there is a there…

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Especially not when they say they got it from Him. He doesn’t vote.

Keeping religion and politics apart. Jesus did. Maybe the Founding Fathers were way wiser (and more religious) than we thought…

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Note: First time I am getting a bit close to religion here. Took a while to decide whether to publish it or not. Let’s see the if I am called a religious nut or a nut by the religious! Remember, the world is not black or white… It’s a mirror.

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No more bad news! Okay. Just a little bit. It’s been another week. Of weak. And lots happening in the US. Politics as usual. This week we’ll stick to the US – like we did with Africa last week. Watch out UK! You’re up next week.

1. Been there, not done that

Old man McCain has been at it again. Even with his memory failing he still manages to somehow try and attack Obama. On Iraq. He is climbing into Obama for not having been in Iraq since 2006. Fair enough. But my question is why should Obama go in the first place? To get the “facts” as McCain would like to call it? Well, I don’t think you need to go to Iraq to get the “facts”? Let’s see what McCain learned from his trips to Iraq, shall we? He got the “enemy” wrong – confusing Sunni and Shiite (or Sonny and Cher as he calls them as it is the only thing that will stick. Something from back in the 70s. And speak slowly and loudly please). Now really, I would like a Presidential candidate to at least get the enemy right. We would have invaded Switzerland if we had him in charge during WWII. And the battle for Fiji would still be going on – for at least a 100 years fighting the wrong country. Anyway. Maybe we should ask him why he didn’t go back to the market he went to the last time he went (before his last trip). You know why? Because it was too unsafe… And then he stood there in the “safe place” and tell us how well it is going down there in Miami Beach… Tell me, why stay a 100 years if it is going so well? No McLame, you being in Iraq doesn’t mean that you actually know anything about Iraq. Not if you only speak to the people who are “managing” your trip. That’s called a guided holiday tour and not a fact finding mission. Get with it. Or get out of it. Man, it is just torture listening to you. Maybe even worse than water-boarding.

2. Sleeping with the enemy

I guess Cindy only making $6 million last year andMcCain not making any money at all (according to his income statements), makes it a bit tough on the purse strings out there in the McDime household. We know McTame shops at Costco.  Nothing wrong with that. Just interesting that he only gave us this “news” now. Can’t be that he is trying to play to the Costco crowd is it? Nah. Not McShame. Not Mr Straight Talking Derailed Express I guess? Anyway. It seems as if he is forced to go cap in hand to the guy who kicked his backside back in 2000 – George W. Yes, the same guy who spat on him and smeared him back then is all of a sudden his BFFF. (Threw in an extra “F” just for good measure. They deserve an extra F-word.) Yes, McDrain is hanging out with the guy with the money. Being pimped by Bush to his corporate buddies. You get the money today and they get their “favours” if you step into that big old white house on the hill. Have you no shame sir? I tend to stay away from people if they stab me in the back. I don’t pimp for money. Or sell my soul. Principles. It’s a nice thing to have. And easy to check at the door I guess.

3. The Bush snitch

It’s very interesting how people are taking about the McClellan book. Here is a guy people on the left didn’t like because he was spinning the Bush stories and now he comes out and tells us the truth. Guess what. Saying Bush lied or at least spun stories and left out key info when making decisions about a war is all of a sudden a surprise? Only problem – this guy was actually there. Not a guided tour like McCain in Iraq, but actually there when the spinning and half-truths went on. And now he is being called a snitch and a traitor by those who loved him before. Name calling. So mature. But the problem is that they have nothing else to say. They can’t refute what he has to say. Because he was there. And no one is denying what he said is true. If he lied they will be on him so quickly you won’t even be able to hear the word “sue” as he flew into court. But Bush and buddies can only stand there and call him names. Because they know it is true. I am reading the story of Cynthia Cooper, the WorldCom whistleblower. And it happens to almost every single person who comes out and speaks the truth against those in power. They get called names and everyone tries to intimidate them. Because when the truth is out they have nothing but threats and name calling left. My take? Burn baby, burn. Sticks and stones Fox. Sticks and stones Bush. Throw the insults this way. But the lies don’t last. They all eventually come out. Just ask Nixon. As we say in South Africa, “Skelm vet braai uit.”

4. The crusade in Iraq

Look, this is a difficult one. The soldiers fighting in Iraq needs nothing but admiration from us. They do a dirty job for tainted politicians. They are the heart and soul of this country. But even they make mistakes. And two big ones in a matter of a week. First there was the guy who took the Qur’an for target shooting. Stop. Before you try to justify it. Think about it. Put yourself in the shoes of the other side. Imagine you are being “liberated” by an army that are made up of mostly Muslims. And then they take the Bible and shoot it full of holes. You wouldn’t like it would you. How would you expect them to behave and what would you do in relatiation? Now a US marine has been handing out Christian coins to Iraqis at a checkpoint. With John 3:16 on one side. I don’t blame the marine. Of course he should have known better. And of course he doesn’t reflect the majority of guys over there. But still. Let’s look a bit closer and see why this is happening. Well, it doesn’t help if your President started this war and called it a “crusade”. Another “misspeak” I guess. Funny that – how often politicians do that. I would get fired if I made so many stupid remarks andmistakes. Calling it a crusade? Really… How do you think some of the troops will think about their role then? Of course there is a bigger problem. The guys just aren’t geared for this type of war. This isn’t a “there is the enemy, let’s get him” type of war. They hide, they move, they are around you, and they don’t wear nice uniforms to make the target easier to identify. The training and weaponry just aren’t geared for this type of war. This is almost peace keeping. And regular armies just isn’t geared for it. Not that the UN would be better. But at least they will be better geared to be culturally sensitive. But they are in a difficult corner – most people don’t like this war and if they get involved they indirectly justify the Bush war. More needed on the heart and minds bits I think. I once met a guy with the coolest title – Wing Commander. He was British. And his job was propaganda. Winning the hearts andminds of the locals. But they forget the one key ingredient – it’s the soldiers on the ground who will be the face of America (and the UK). You have to put more effort in to get them to be sensitive to local culture and taboos. If not – well, it’s just a flip of the coin and you had it.

5. Half-a-dozen of one and six of the other?

it’s a bit of a mess isn’t it? This whole Florida and Michigan thing – Florigan Gate. Well, it depends on how you count it I guess. If you seat half the people or make their vote count 50%. Doesn’t seem like much of a difference hey? Oh, but it is my dear friend. The devil is in the detail. You see, if they let everyone sit, but only allow their vote to count 50% then Clinton gains 19 delegates. But if they half the number of delegates then her gain is only 6 delegates. Man. These Democrats really can’t do the math can they? Even Einstein and Newton had a Democrat exclusion rule. For Newton it was that his explanation of Universal Gravitation and three laws of motion only counts if their are no Democrats in the room. Einstein argued that his theory of relativity only holds as long as there are no Democrat relatively close by. Oh, they had a Republican one as well – that no theory exists if the President or God didn’t write it down themselves. Or if the Constitution didn’t specifically mention it in the 2nd Amendment. But Democrats and their fuzzy logic. Really guys. My take? Stuff Michigan and Florida. If you let them through this time – what do you think will happen in 2012? Will we have one serious Super Tuesday on 3 January 2012? With each and every state having their big “do” on the same day? Well, not a bad idea. It will put us out of our HillBillary pain in a single day I guess. Go Florida! Oh, you too Michigan.

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Today we celebrate our freedom in South Africa. The freedom we achieved officialy in 1994. On 27 April 1994. Oh, what a day that was. The day of our freedom. Our 4th of July. Our Bastille Day. Free! Free at last! And to celebrate that day I am reposting and old blog of mine. A reflection of my experience of that beautiful day. My little contribution to our history. My memories of the birth of my country. It was an honour. And it was something to behold. And what a day it was. Oh, what a day it was.

A vote at last! (1994)

Four long years. That’s how long we had to wait before we got our first election in 1994. Okay, we had to wait forever during the struggle against Apartheid, but we had four long years of negotiations from when Nelson Mandela was released until we got our date – 27 April 1994. But now the date was set. And I just had to be part of that. So I registered myself as a volunteer to work on election day. And what a day it turned out to be.

I could feel that their was something special in the air. Something that I will never see again or experience again. I got up ready to be part of history. I rushed to put on some decent clothes and unmatched socks (that was my image back then!) I am a voting officer – please step back from that voting booth and put your X when I can see them. The power! I even had a special badge to say what I was – Voting Officer. My first badge. Plastic – but still a badge.

First I had to go for a session with the two guys in charge. Yes, two guys. The Apartheid National Party didn’t trust the ANC and the ANC didn’t trust the NP. So we had one from each side co-managing each voting station. I was stationed at Stellenbosch central – the town hall. The biggest turnout of our town for the day was going to be there. And we had a bureaucrat from the Nats leading their side and a cool guy from the ANC leading from the other side. (Okay – you don’t get extra points for knowing who I voted for). And these two guys was going to tell us what we can do and what we can’t do – and the role of each person.

But what a sight when I turned the corner that leads to the town hall. People waiting in lines for as far as the eye can see. There was still a few hours before we opened the doors and the people was already waiting to vote. The hair on my neck stood up. History. You could smell it. You could taste it. And now you can see it.

What struck me was how quiet people were. No partying. No shouting and hardly any laughing. Just a silence as people stood in the queue waiting for the doors to open so that they could go and vote. People just staring at that door. A little wave when people recognized each other. But it was deadly silent most of the time. I expected people to celebrate. Come on – we are in Africa. We make a noise and party when the kid drools for the first time. Only later did I realize why. People still couldn’t believe that it was happening. And they did not want to do anything until they saw those doors open. After so many years of hardship they still could not believe that the Apartheid regime won’t try and pull a fast one. I managed a few smiles and got a few back-slaps – and off I went to get this baby started.

Oh man. That guy from the Nats was the pits. Telling us the obvious things and being as wet and square as Spongebob Squarepants. Really, it was like pulling teeth. We just wanted to get on with it. At least the guy from the ANC got us all worked up and rallied us by reminding us what this day was all about. And that we had a big responsibility in helping people today. Today we make history. And then the representatives from all the political parties came in. The serious ones had their suits on – the Nats and the Democratic Party. The ANC had their more relaxed African shirts on. And the rest just came with whatever they could find in the closet. And they were a bunch of oddballs!

We had the Right Party (slightly leftie politics), the Green Party (the vegans), the Minority Party (basically one guy), the Merit Party (old head-boys), the Federal Party (wanted their own land), the KISS party (Keep It Straight and Simple), the Soccer Party (almost got my vote) and a bunch with names no one could pronounce. Hey, we figured that if everyone could vote then everyone should be able to register as a party as well. Maybe not one of our better ideas. But they were all there – ready to join in the fun. Except for the KISS Party who took things way to seriously – especially with a name like that. No hugs and no kisses.

My first job was to help the people outside. Especially the older people. I was allowed to move them up the line and help them vote. It was a nice one – I got to mingle with the crowd outside. There was no trouble – except for a few political parties who broke the “no canvassing within 500 meters” rule. They just drove past and honked and waved flags. Not really canvassing – just having fun on the day.

And people had fun by now. Almost everyone got their identity books in the months leading up to the election. And I mean everyone. I’ll never forget one of the first guys who came outside after he voted. He was what we called a bergie– a homeless guy. I guess he was way up in the lines because he slept outside the town-hall. He came out beaming with his two front teeth missing. And as he got to the top of the steps he looked at the crowd, threw his arms in the air and shouted “my vote is my secret – I voted DP (Democratic Party)” (For those who know Afrikaans – he was a Capie and shouted “My stem is my geheim. Ek vote die DP”). The crowd packed up laughing. It summed up the day perfectly – everyone having their say and starting to having fun.

There is a story why his words were particularly funny at the time. We had a long running campaign about people voting for whoever they wanted to vote for – and that their vote would be in secret. The slogan was – Your Vote, Your Secret. It was everywhere because people thought that with the fingerprints and everything that the Apartheid government will come and get them – that they will know who voted for who and get them if they voted ANC. The ads obviously worked. And he remembered this, just not all the detail.

The queue never got any shorter during the day. People just kept on coming – 1,000+ people standing in line at any time during the day and all waiting to vote. Waiting patiently. It was hot, even though it was autumn. I was handing out water when I saw him. An old, old man standing in the queue – almost right at the back. He must have been close to a hundred. He was frail and leaning against his walking stick. You could see he came from a tough background – a farmworker most likely. I went up to him and took him by his hand and told him I’ll take him to the voting booth. He smiled and off we went – walking slowly.

We talked a bit while we took our slow walk to the voting hall. Not politics of course – I wasn’t allowed to talk politics because I was an “independent” voting officer. It became apparent that he couldn’t read or write. But he wanted to vote – that was his right. And it was likely not only his first time of voting, but his last one. I promised I would help him – that was my job. I took him to the booth and asked him to look at the pictures and tell me who he wanted to vote for – any faces or parties he recognized? He looked carefully and then shook his head. No, his man wasn’t there. He said it as if he knew who his “man” was. I asked him if he could tell me who his man was as I might be able to tell him what party his man belonged to. He looked at me and said, “I want to vote for Jannie Smuts”. I felt like hugging the guy. Smuts died in 1950. And Smuts was a racist who tried everything to stop this old man from getting his right to vote.

But we sorted that out – I called all the parties together and got them to argue it out. The old man voted in the end. For the National Party – the party who denied him his right to vote for all those Apartheid years. And the party who defeated Smuts in the general election back in 1948. I don’t know how Smuts would have felt about that one.

The rest of the day went off smoothly. I helped people to vote and spoke to people in the queue. It was all fun and games by now. Friendly bantering and sharing of good times. It felt as if this was the most natural thing we could do – voting. Of course it should be, but this was a special day.

I eventually went to vote myself. I stood in that booth for a few minutes – like almost every other voter that day. This was my turn and our time. I knew who I was going to vote for. With Biko dead for so many years already the Africanist still had a leadership vacuum. Even with Hani assassinated I knew that there was only one man and one party for me. I made my cross next to the ANC and had a lump in my throat. I was shaking slightly. Done. It is done. A vote at last. Take us where you want Madiba.

That night I turned into an accountant. Okay, not that exciting. I turned into a Counting Officer. Off we went to get locked up in a huge hall and start counting those votes. And we counted and we counted. And the parties looked on to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. No idea why the Kiss Party and the other small ones hung around – we couldn’t exclude their votes even if we wanted to. No one voted for them. Come on – the Right Party got less than 1,000 votes across the whole of South Africa. And then they started moaning and bitching – the smaller parties – and we had to count all over again. And it went on and on. Till early in the morning. All they gave us was crap coffee and even worse hamburgers. But it was worth it. Because eventually it was all done. Votes counted and our work done. Our first election was officialy over – done and dusted.

I have been busy at the elections for almost 24 hours by now. First helping the voters and then counting their votes. I was knackered. I just wanted to sleep. But as I hit the bed it hit me. I was part of history. I was part of the greatest day in our country’s life. Each person that voted that day did it with passion – for the right and the wrong reasons. But each of us – all of us – had our day to vote at last. And each one of those votes was done for a reason. People did it because this was the most important election of their lives. There will never be another. I was there when we became a nation. No. I was passing the bricks as we build that nation on 27 April 1994. Smuts would not have been proud.

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Four long years. That’s how long we had to wait before we got our first election in 1994. Okay, we had to wait forever during the struggle against Apartheid, but we had four long years of negotiations from when Nelson Mandela was released until we got our date – 27 April 1994. But now the date was set. And I just had to be part of that. So I registered myself as a volunteer to work on election day. And what a day it turned out to be.

I could feel that their was something special in the air. Something that I will never see again or experience again. I got up ready to be part of history. I rushed to put on some decent clothes and unmatched socks (that was my image back then!) I am a voting officer – please step back from that voting booth and put your X when I can see them. The power! I even had a special badge to say what I was – Voting Officer. My first badge. Plastic – but still a badge.

First I had to go for a session with the two guys in charge. Yes, two guys. The Apartheid National Party didn’t trust the ANC and the ANC didn’t trust the NP. So we had one from each side co-managing each voting station. I was stationed at Stellenbosch central – the town hall. The biggest turnout of our town for the day was going to be there. And we had a bureaucrat from the Nats leading their side and a cool guy from the ANC leading from the other side. (Okay – you don’t get extra points for knowing who I voted for). And these two guys was going to tell us what we can do and what we can’t do – and the role of each person.

But what a sight when I turned the corner that leads to the town hall. People waiting in lines for as far as the eye can see. There was still a few hours before we opened the doors and the people was already waiting to vote. The hair on my neck stood up. History. You could smell it. You could taste it. And now you can see it.

What struck me was how quiet people were. No partying. No shouting and hardly any laughing. Just a silence as people stood in the queue waiting for the doors to open so that they could go and vote. People just staring at that door. A little wave when people recognized each other. But it was deadly silent most of the time. I expected people to celebrate. Come on – we are in Africa. We make a noise and party when the kid drools for the first time. Only later did I realize why. People still couldn’t believe that it was happening. And they did not want to do anything until they saw those doors open. After so many years of hardship they still could not believe that the Apartheid regime won’t try and pull a fast one. I managed a few smiles and got a few back-slaps – and off I went to get this baby started.

Oh man. That guy from the Nats was the pits. Telling us the obvious things and being as wet and square as Spongebob Squarepants. Really, it was like pulling teeth. We just wanted to get on with it. At least the guy from the ANC got us all worked up and rallied us by reminding us what this day was all about. And that we had a big responsibility in helping people today. Today we make history. And then the representatives from all the political parties came in. The serious ones had their suits on – the Nats and the Democratic Party. The ANC had their more relaxed African shirts on. And the rest just came with whatever they could find in the closet. And they were a bunch of oddballs!

We had the Right Party (slightly leftie politics), the Green Party (the vegans), the Minority Party (basically one guy), the Merit Party (old head-boys), the Federal Party (wanted their own land), the KISS party (Keep It Straight and Simple), the Soccer Party (almost got my vote) and a bunch with names no one could pronounce. Hey, we figured that if everyone could vote then everyone should be able to register as a party as well. Maybe not one of our better ideas. But they were all there – ready to join in the fun. Except for the KISS Party who took things way to seriously – especially with a name like that. No hugs and no kisses.

My first job was to help the people outside. Especially the older people. I was allowed to move them up the line and help them vote. It was a nice one – I got to mingle with the crowd outside. There was no trouble – except for a few political parties who broke the “no canvassing within 500 meters” rule. They just drove past and honked and waved flags. Not really canvassing – just having fun on the day.

And people had fun by now. Almost everyone got their identity books in the months leading up to the election. And I mean everyone. I’ll never forget one of the first guys who came outside after he voted. He was what we called a bergie– a homeless guy. I guess he was way up in the lines because he slept outside the town-hall. He came out beaming with his two front teeth missing. And as he got to the top of the steps he looked at the crowd, threw his arms in the air and shouted “my vote is my secret – I voted DP (Democratic Party)” (For those who know Afrikaans – he was a Capie and shouted “My stem is my geheim. Ek vote die DP”). The crowd packed up laughing. It summed up the day perfectly – everyone having their say and starting to having fun.

There is a story why his words were particularly funny at the time. We had a long running campaign about people voting for whoever they wanted to vote for – and that their vote would be in secret. The slogan was – Your Vote, Your Secret. It was everywhere because people thought that with the fingerprints and everything that the Apartheid government will come and get them – that they will know who voted for who and get them if they voted ANC. The ads obviously worked. And he remembered this, just not all the detail.

The queue never got any shorter during the day. People just kept on coming – 1,000+ people standing in line at any time during the day and all waiting to vote. Waiting patiently. It was hot, even though it was autumn. I was handing out water when I saw him. An old, old man standing in the queue – almost right at the back. He must have been close to a hundred. He was frail and leaning against his walking stick. You could see he came from a tough background – a farmworker most likely. I went up to him and took him by his hand and told him I’ll take him to the voting booth. He smiled and off we went – walking slowly.

We talked a bit while we took our slow walk to the voting hall. Not politics of course – I wasn’t allowed to talk politics because I was an “independent” voting officer. It became apparent that he couldn’t read or write. But he wanted to vote – that was his right. And it was likely not only his first time of voting, but his last one. I promised I would help him – that was my job. I took him to the booth and asked him to look at the pictures and tell me who he wanted to vote for – any faces or parties he recognized? He looked carefully and then shook his head. No, his man wasn’t there. He said it as if he knew who his “man” was. I asked him if he could tell me who his man was as I might be able to tell him what party his man belonged to. He looked at me and said, “I want to vote for Jannie Smuts”. I felt like hugging the guy. Smuts died in 1950. And Smuts was a racist who tried everything to stop this old man from getting his right to vote.

But we sorted that out – I called all the parties together and got them to argue it out. The old man voted in the end. For the National Party – the party who denied him his right to vote for all those Apartheid years. And the party who defeated Smuts in the general election back in 1948. I don’t know how Smuts would have felt about that one.

The rest of the day went off smoothly. I helped people to vote and spoke to people in the queue. It was all fun and games by now. Friendly bantering and sharing of good times. It felt as if this was the most natural thing we could do – voting. Of course it should be, but this was a special day.

I eventually went to vote myself. I stood in that booth for a few minutes – like almost every other voter that day. This was my turn and our time. I knew who I was going to vote for. With Biko dead for so many years already the Africanist still had a leadership vacuum. Even with Hani assassinated I knew that there was only one man and one party for me. I made my cross next to the ANC and had a lump in my throat. I was shaking slightly. Done. It is done. A vote at last. Take us where you want Madiba.

That night I turned into an accountant. Okay, not that exciting. I turned into a Counting Officer. Off we went to get locked up in a huge hall and start counting those votes. And we counted and we counted. And the parties looked on to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. No idea why the Kiss Party and the other small ones hung around – we couldn’t exclude their votes even if we wanted to. No one voted for them. Come on – the Right Party got less than 1,000 votes across the whole of South Africa. And then they started moaning and bitching – the smaller parties – and we had to count all over again. And it went on and on. Till early in the morning. All they gave us was crap coffee and even worse hamburgers. But it was worth it. Because eventually it was all done. Votes counted and our work done. Our first election was officialy over – done and dusted.

I have been busy at the elections for almost 24 hours by now. First helping the voters and then counting their votes. I was knackered. I just wanted to sleep. But as I hit the bed it hit me. I was part of history. I was part of the greatest day in our country’s life. Each person that voted that day did it with passion – for the right and the wrong reasons. But each of us – all of us – had our day to vote at last. And each one of those votes was done for a reason. People did it because this was the most important election of their lives. There will never be another. I was there when we became a nation. No. I was passing the bricks as we build that nation on 27 April 1994. Smuts would not have been proud.

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