I turned 18 at the end of my matric year – 1985. I remember there being some sort of voting opportunity when I was at university. Scores of us went along to the voting station and loudly and disruptively didn’t vote. We, as Wits students, were protesting the fact that not everyone could vote. Personally I was also protesting the fact that there was no party I felt I either wanted to vote for or could, in all morality, put a tick against.

In 1992 I was living in London, and I used my right to vote for the first time. I stood in a queue that stretched around South Africa House, for hours until I was admitted into the Embassy and allowed to make my mark.

Two years later the whole country went to the voting polls for the first time ever.

I know I had the childhood I did in part because of the apartheid regime.

I know I have the education I do because of apartheid.

I know I have benefits I am not even aware of because of apartheid.

I also know that as soon as I had a voice, I said NO

I know that many many people my age did this.

I know my parents raised all three of us well aware of the fact that things in this country were wrong.

I know all three of us voiced this as soon as anyone would listen to us.

I know I am tired of being blamed for the world I was born into with no recognition of the efforts I was involved in to change that.

I cannot unbe white along with all the privileges that brings.

Yes, I benefitted from apartheid, but never through my own doing.

There seems to me to be a lack of realisation of the age of the people who were new voters when the voting changed in this country. We are not the loud, vociferous 20 year olds. We are the stable, slightly broader than we used to be late 30 and early 40 year olds.

We are the men who refused to go to the army.

We are the students who rioted and protested.

We are the masses of people who said ‘enough’.

We are the people who risked our lives for our beliefs.

We are the people who were born with advantage but were eager to share it.

 I am tired of twenty somethings thinking they invented this new land of ours. What they did was inherit it.

Advertisements