Born Free in South Africa

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It’s almost time for South Africa to go to the polls.  In fact, as you read this, there will probably be lines all around the country with people exercising their right to vote.

The whole world remembers April 1994, our first ever Democratic election, and how the voting went on for three days.   Black people casting their first ever vote, black and white people filled with hope, people bringing chairs, packing picnics, sharing sandwiches, trading stories, and making friends over the days.  Life-changing elections, life-changing moments.

Images of President Nelson Mandela casting his first vote.  Feel good, spine chilling images.  We had come so far.

Those elections may have been our most important one ever, but this election is going to bring a new kind of excitement.   For the first time, our Born Frees will be voting.

Born Frees – these are the kids who were born in 1994, who grew up in the time of Nelson Mandela, and who have never experienced apartheid.  They are 18 or 19, incredibly politicized (it’s hard not to be, growing up here) and all know South Africa’s tumultuous history

It will be interesting to see how they vote.  Are these kids going to vote on loyalty?  Do they think the way their parents thought? Are they influenced by our history, and if so, are they shackled by our history?  Or, as I imagine, are they young, strong and influential, with good heads on their shoulders, free thinkers, free voters.

I don’t know, but I’m hoping that on Wednesday the lines will be long.  I hope not too long, as there is a fantastic election day food-truckers picnic afterwards in the George Hay Park in Parkview.  This gorgeous park is close to all our Johannesburg guest houses, a beautiful meeting  point for families, friends and community

Coffee shops are offering free coffees for early voters, some restaurants offer discounts when you show that you’ve ‘been inked’ and either way, it’s going to be an eventful day.  If you’re a visitor, walk around with your camera.  Your guest house owner will point you in the direction of the closest polling stations.

Come on South Africa.  Do us PROUD!