The little mark that can, and will, move society

2014-05-08 00:00

SAM Reddy left a polling station with “a sense of awe” yesterday, after voting for the first time.

The returned expatriate said his election experience in Durban North showed that “voting in South Africa is completely different from voting anywhere else — it comes from the heart. It makes me feel a South African more than ever before.”

Born in Durban in 1976, Reddy left South Africa in the mid-eighties when his family relocated to Wellington, New Zealand. Holidays were often spent in South Africa.

“I’ve never voted before,” said Reddy. “I’ve always been out of the country.”

He said he was flying back to New Zealand with his father in 1990. The newly released Nelson Mandela was on the cover of Time magazine.

“I had never seen his picture. ‘Dad, who is this person?’ He explained that Mandela was fighting for the rights of blacks and Indians who didn’t have equal rights.”

The Reddy family moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1992. In 1994 Reddy was 17.

“At school they had flags representing pupils from different countries. I remember the day at assembly when they took down the old South African flag and put up the new one.”

A decade ago, Reddy’s parents retired to Durban. When Reddy and his wife divorced and she also returned, Reddy decided to come back as well to be close to his daughter.

He is currently the franchisee of the KZN branch of Dale Carnegie Training. “I was the first non-white franchisee.”

Reddy was attending a Dale Carnegie conference in Spain when Nelson Mandela died.

“People said to me it would never have been possible for me to be a franchisee if not for him. I didn’t see it like that — but others did — I just saw myself as another franchisee.”

On his return, he went to Pretoria to one of Mandela’s memorial services.

“But what they said sunk in and when I came back I just had to go to Pretoria to one of the memorial services. The experience changed my mindset, people had become so united, I realised what we had been able to do here in such a short period of time. I realised your vote counts.

“This morning my eight-year-old niece said I must vote for the blue party. ‘You mean the DA?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘if you vote for them, Helen Zille might be our first female president.’ That makes you realise how much a vote can change things. In South Africa you are voting for a legacy you want to build.”

Reddy was quiet after he cast his vote, later admitting to a “sense of awe”.

“You realise at a deep level your vote is important. The little mark which I made on a piece of paper can, and will, move a society.”

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