On this day, 22 years ago, South Africa became a democratic country where non-white South Africans were granted the opportunity to vote for the very first time. Every year on April 27, we celebrate freedom day as we recall the traumatic experiences, which the apartheid government inflicted upon people of colour, we also rejoice in the fact that no matter what colour or race we are, we have the right to vote.
VOC chatted to senior citizens and took a trip down memory lane as they shared their sentiments about the very first democratic election.
“After all the struggle it was a relief to know that we could have freedom at last. ” stated Emelda Schroeder.
The apartheid era was a tough and trying time where non-whites did not enjoy the freedom of movement.
After being denied the opportunity for many years to take part in the political system, on the 27 April 1994, many were overwhelmed while standing in the long queues to put their ballots in the box.
“It was such an uplifting experience to lift up my hand and put that paper in the ballot box.” Emelda proudly stated.
A senior, who was picked up and detained on five occasions, never lost hope and after the 5th time he never got picked up because apartheid was over. He had 3 parties in mind but chose the African National Congress when he received his ballot.
“Nelson Mandela was our saviour,” Roger said proudly.
Most of the seniors dreamed and visualised a better future for themselves and the generations to come and for a long period of time things changed for the better.
“There was an expectancy that life would be fantastic in future but, unfortunately, it has not been that way recently,” said Roger disappointedly.
” I do not like the rampant corruption. They are supposed to serve us, not use the money that is meant for schools and other purposes, ” explained an emotional Allan.
Many youths of today feel that their vote will not count or make a difference, but these seniors ,who have never missed an election, stand firm in their belief that they will always have a voice.
“It is important to make it known how you feel. Cast your ballot no matter what,” urged Emelda.
” I personally think the way things are going now, you must vote. Vote for the better,” said Billy confidently.