WARNING: this blog post has been written from a sardonic point of view. If you find yourself running low on humour, please visit the SABC’s website and you should be fine after a few minutes.
I have been a veteran in the struggle against apartheid since 1993. Yes, the year I arrived in this country, at the tender age of twelve. As young as I was, I was nobody’s fool. Although I was slightly disappointed to be unable to see any Zulus throwing spears up at the aeroplane on the way to Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg, I figured that since it was a public holiday, even Zulu warriors needed a break from throwing spears at the whites.
No, you would never catch a bright person like me, brought up in God’s own country (just to make it clear, this would be England), being ignorant about African current affairs. Although I will admit that when I heard the news about Nelson Mandela being released from prison after 27 years, I struggled to understand why everybody was making such a fuss over a convicted criminal. But I was only a pipsqueak of eight back then. To be sure, I knew by the time I moved to South Africa in ’93 that Mandela was a very dangerous man.
Since we were brought over by a white South African family with whom we were living, I had the advantage of being able to learn a lot about South Africa very quickly. Yes, I learnt all about the kaffirs, and how they were all ready to kill us in our beds and take our BMWs.
We had two maids, Pinky and Mabel. They used to speak Afrikaans very oddly, I thought, with all sorts of funny clicking noises and no-one could understand them when they did that. I gathered that it was some kind of secret code. Eugene Terre’blanche will tell you that there are enemies everywhere, and boy, was he ever right.
Since the elections were fast-approaching, there was little to do except instruct the women and children in combat shooting. We stocked up on baked beans and candles, sandbags and ammunition. We kids were told to practice re-loading firearm magazines until our fingers bled, for it was us children who would be relied upon to reload for the adults when the bloodshed began.
The time of the elections was nearly upon us, and we went on what could possibly have been our last holiday. It was a long and weary trek in our air-conditioned BMW down to Richards Bay, and we outspanned when we got to the lobby of the hotel. For some unknown reason I became embroiled in a political discussion with a black man sitting in the lobby. Fancy me, an educated Englishwoman of twelve, imparting my erudite political views to a savage!
Nevertheless, I asked him politely who he would be voting for in the elections, to which he replied he would be voting for the National Party (an old party from the times of apartheid and the last bastion of hope for the whites). I was very pleased with this man’s valour and common sense, and I remarked that the National Party was the ideal party to vote for, because as I put it, “things will stay just exactly as they are”.
I think that from the way the poor man's face dropped in utter horror, that he probably made sure that he was the first person in the line at the polling station on the first day of voting, and I’m almost 100% certain that the tick he made was next to the box that read “African National Congress”.
So you see, I really was doing my bit for freedom even back then, when I had more pimples than common sense.