Today is a big day in South Africa. Today is the day that the population (over the age of 18) cast their votes in our fifth national election. It’s a day that is filled with much excitement and interest.
These elections are historic for a few reasons. Not only are they being held (almost exactly) twenty years since the first democratic elections, it is the first time we will have a generation of voters who were born outside of the Apartheid system – known as ‘born frees’. It is also a day of celebration where we all feel proud of our shift into democracy after years of oppression.
This feeling has lingered a while longer for us expats since we had our own election day a week early. Last Wednesday the international citizens all over the world took to the polls to have their voices heard. London was no different. In fact, it was the busiest international polling station with just under 10,000 people registered in the UK and around 7,000 making it to the queue in Trafalgar Square – despite a tube strike causing travel strife.
The mood inside the building was also uplifting with the IEC staff all really upbeat and joyous. Everyone from those checking our IDs and passports, to the laughing lady who inked my finger and those handing out the ballot papers were warm and friendly. I expected after many hours saying the same thing a thousand times they could have been a bit frustrated, but there was a sense of camaraderie and a celebratory mood.
With my ballot paper marked and securely deposited in the ballot receptacle I exited the building, hoping to meet up with my colleague again. I think she was still inside and unfortunately had to run off without lingering to make it home to receive a grocery delivery (a girl’s gotta eat!). Sitting on the long bus ride home, my feeling of accomplishment graduated to one of anticipation. Thinking ahead to today and my friends and family back home having their say and what the results would be.
The future is bright for our young country and we all have the right to have our say as to how we want it run. My fingers are crossed that more of us vote on policy rather than the past and we take advantage of this opportunity.
|Proudly South African|