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It's 25 years since black South Africans finally got the vote

By: stagedoorscribbler - April 22, 2019

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Photograph by Hattie Miles

It was 25 years ago today (well this week anyway) that black South Africans were finally able to vote. After years of white domination and an apartheid regime that had existed since the late 1940s, they poured in their millions into the polling stations.

The opening of those stations in April 1994 offered black citizens freedom to have a say in their own destinies. It was a landmark achievement and a triumph for anti-apartheid heroes like African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

At the time Tutu seized the moment to share the jubilant mood of ordinary black South Africans. Despite having to wait 45 minutes to vote, Tutu told the world’s media: “You just want to yell, dance, jump and cry all at the same time.”

The election of course ended with the historic election of Mandela as South Africa’s first black president. He took office on 10th May, the ANC having polled almost 63 per cent of the vote.

At the time he had said: “We have moved from an era of pessimism, turmoil and conflict. Now we are starting a new era of hope, reconciliation and nation-building.”

Let us not forget those words or the importance of that moment.