A South African Sight I Will Never Forget

Simply put, one of my top 3 days work wise ever. Waking up (or did I even sleep that night?) I headed to my townships east of Joburg. It was April 27, 1994, the morning of South Africa’s first election open to all citizens of South Africa. The people were waiting but this was no ordinary line. This was the most amazing heart warming line I have ever witnessed. The smiles, the joy, the excitement were overwhelming.

I enter the voting station and begin to observe. However, for many people, secret ballot or not, there was no secret; they wanted Mandela! As some required assistance and reassurance, they would gesture me over and sing something that sounded like Votela Mandela and I would show them the spot to mark. I can still hear those words today.

The Jury is Out on Joburg

3 months in Joburg provided enough stuff to last 3 years.

A typical day long ago looked like this:

1 Wake up cold (yes, cold)

2 Slip on ice outside the gated fortress (or otherwise known as my rental house)

3 Decide whether it is safe to walk outside fortress alone to actually try to get some exercise

4 Decide not to and return to house for freezing swim in backyard (need exercise that badly)

5 Read paper (oh, more tourists eaten by lions in Joburg’s lion park…no you can’t just get out of your car to touch)

6 Drive to work on left side of road and park car in scary underground garage; check surroundings and quickly vacate area

7 Go up elevator in office building as business women pull out their guns from their purses to apply lipstick

8 Go to food court in shopping mall with many others; safety in numbers

9 Run and hide behind counter in store when a protest enters the shopping mall; stay there long time

10 Visit my electoral area with the South African defence force in hard vehicle (yes very hard… think tank)

11 Quickly enter local school in my townships to check locations for election – my favourite part of the day 🙂

12 Leave work and drive through red lights on the way home; don’t stop vehicle ever

13 Go grocery shopping with others; like many others; don’t think about going to the public washroom alone; drag friends

14 Invite friends over; check to see they are your friends through the camera security screen; open outside gate to fortress from inside house button

15 Cook braai (SA barbeque) and drink – another personal favourite 🙂

Repeat the next day except for the one time that the bomb went off in my office building and then that day I spent wandering the streets 😦