A Proud Day

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 patient masses
I joined in at around lunchtime, meeting a colleague from work who travelled into London especially to vote. The atmosphere was really festive, even Mother Nature joined in, basking us in glorious sunshine for the whole afternoon. As we queued people were chatting about everything from politics to snacks as Democratic Alliance (main opposition party) t-shirt wearing lobbyists encouraged sing-alongs of Shosholoza and instigated ‘Mexican’ waves. My colleague pointed out that technically this was a South African wave, and rightly so.

A muted sing-along attempt
We stood in the sun for around two and a half hours, in which time we just missed being on camera. A reporter from an SA news channel was summarising events just too far ahead of us to peak over and wave into the camera. I also bumped into a few friends I hadn’t seen in the longest time which added to the fun.

Some creative sun-screening efforts

Towards the front of the queue there were marshals separating us out by our last names, since different halves of the alphabet had to enter South Africa House by separate entrances. I got lucky in that the top half of the alphabet was a faster moving queue so was escorted across the road before my colleague.

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

2 thoughts on “A Proud Day

  1. So proud of you and the thousands of others that took time off work, braved the tube strike and waited patiently to cast your vote – such a positive thing to see!


  2. Thank you! Our democracy was hard fought for so it's our job to keep it going. Keeping an eye on the results as they roll in on news24.com


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