Remembering the first Freedom Day: Evita Bezuidenhout

2014-04-27 15:00

April 27 1994. I was nearly late for the vote – all those boxes of tinned tuna to store for that inevitable collapse of society. I took my aged mother to the poll. She was wearing a sombre hat and gloves as if she was going to church.

A small National Party (NP) flag was in her hand. I found that a bit unnecessary but then you can lead a horse to the water hoping she will not float on her back!

Two young black women from the old age home stood behind us in the queue. Mammie was very irritated. “Waar is hulle tou?” (Where is their queue?) she asked in a loud whisper. I didn’t have the energy to explain it

all again. She was obviously not remembering much detail.

I was in a quandary. Whom should I vote for: the NP past that still made me feel secure, or the ANC future that made me shudder? One of the black women tapped my mother on her shoulder. “Missies Poggenpoel? Who are you going to vote for?” she asked. Mammie just shook her head, refusing to answer anything addressed to her in English. She would never forgive the Brits for what they did to the Afrikaner women and children during the

Boer War. “Moenie onbeskof wees nie, Mammie,” (Don’t be rude, Mammie.) I gently chided. Again the young woman asked: “Missies Poggenpoel? Who will you vote for?” Mammie waved her NP flag pointedly.

The young woman leant closer. “Missies Poggenpoel? You must vote for the ANC.” Mammie shuddered.

“Ja,” said the young woman, “if you vote ANC, I will make your bed and clean your room every day. If you don’t vote ANC, you will have to do it all yourself.” Mammie thought for a moment, then dropped her NP flag into the dirt bin. I heard her sigh: “Ja-nee, liewers ‘n goeie meid as ‘n goeie regering.” (Yes, rather a good maid than a good government.)

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