My Memoirs of 20 years of Freedom (P1)
The SA Dream began when Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela was released from Victor Verster prison, Cape Town on 11th Feb 1990. It was the most incredible day in SA political history, it was a huge milestone!
All the eyes of the world were drawn upon SA, all international news media focused on South Africa….headline and breaking news: Mandela walks out of prison as a free man after 27 years!
I had only begun to work in 1988 downtown Johannesburg, still struggling to understand economy.
I can remember so vividly, how everything around Jozi came to a complete standstill; people could not work and bosses allowed them to head home and celebrate Mandela news.
I ran up and down the streets of Johannesburg, from Park Station to End Street, down Albert Street and back to The Star House; looking in vain for a newspaper…sold out everywhere! There was no paper available in every language…I was so disappointed not to find a single paper.
Those who had copies refused to sell them even hours after reading them; and yes, so significant and great this day was.
When I finally returned home in Soweto that evening, the atmosphere was incredible…Mandela fever had taken hold of; it was amazing, people were hugging and shaking hands with strangers all around.
Mandela gave us our day back as citizens of this country; it was about the people, by the people and for the people. Madiba heralded the birth of a new SA, we celebrated in Soweto till dawn.
People crowded the Jabulani Amphitheatre where Madiba held his first rally in Soweto, nobody went home that night. Memories, sweet, sweet memories still linger in my mind to this very day!
Just to jog the memories of a few people out there, who still care about our history as a country. Two years later in 1992, you will recall there was a “Whites Only” SA Referendum for the new the constitution that would pave way to establish a new democratic government; where every SA citizen enjoyed equal rights.
17 March 1992, about 68,73% white South Africans voted Yes against 31,27% who voted No. SA was in tune to establish herself as a country where equal rights are enjoyed by all citizens.
It was no easy riding at all, very bumpy road littered with all sorts of oppositions from within and without. Right wingers demanded their “Vader Land” while PAC wanted to push every white person into the sea; the stench of a possible civil war hung in our atmosphere as war talks became the order of the day.
And not forgetting threats from warring IFP supporters and the almost incessant violence in Thokoza. Everybody was scared of the future of this country…I was!
Who can forget those lunch hour prayer lines, where people would stop working, lined up the streets and held hands and prayed for SA?
It was incredible to see black and white people of SA holding hands for the first time; united in prayer for a peaceful solution…I can’t forget those days! There was a time when the people of this country used to believe in prayer and did God answer our prayers?
Just look around…we are not like Sudan, DRC, Iraq or any other country bedevilled by civil wars; and for this we are grateful. Once we stood as One! Once we celebrated as One! But now!
The release of Mandela from prison also heralded the downfall and the end of former Bantustan homelands, like Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Lebowakgomo.
I still have funny image of looters, running around shopping malls in Bop; carrying incredible loads on their heads, mattresses, TV’s and washing machines. I had a good laugh every time I watched the news; it was like organised chaos, my God it was unbelievably funny.
I don’t know what triggers this opportunistic animal like instinct in humans, to suddenly go en masse into a frenzy of stealing like an army of hungry baboons raining down on villagers. Like dominoes, homelands fell one by one; the end of apartheid chapter!
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