After the African National Congress was un-banned, my family returned to South Africa after years of exile. In 1994, I voted proudly for the ANC in the first democratic elections. While I will forever love the movement that freed us, I recognize that it, too, needs its powers checked.
JOHANNESBURG — On April 26, 1994 — the day of South Africa’s first post-apartheid democratic elections – I was driving from Minneapolis to Chicago in a rented mini-van tightly packed with fellow South African students from various colleges in Minnesota. We were on our way to the South African consulate in Chicago to cast our votes for the first time – mine for Nelson Mandela’s party, the African National Congress.
We may have been far away from the sunny jubilation of the first democratic elections at home, but we were determined not to miss out on history. For me, the moment has particular poignancy: I was born and lived my whole life outside South Africa. My father left South Africa when he was 19 years old. He returned in 1993 at the age of 53 after the ANC – of which he was a lifelong member – was unbanned.
Today, South Africans will go to the polls in the fifth national elections since 1994. But my vote for the ANC will not be assured, as it was in 1994. Like many South Africans I watched in horror as the South African police gunned down 34 miners two years ago. Most days I find it hard to stomach the news – there are so many corruption scandals that it is hard to keep track.
Despite this, I will forever love the movement that freed us, even as I recognize that it too needs its powers checked and diluted. This election, I am voting for