Friday, April 27, 2007

freedom day, south africa

it is like one of those events, say a birthday of someone you know. in the run-up to the thing you know that it´s coming, and you tell people about it, but then the day in question, you forget. it is as if there is a disconnect between the date "27 april" and the event "birthday" or in this case "freedom day". (thanks to hussein for reminding me what it is called (oops)). yes, it is freedom day in south africa. it is a holiday to celebrate the first democratic elections held 27 april 1994. as i´ve said, i didn´t forget the day and it´s significance, but somehow forgot that it was called "freedom day". i do remember it well, that 27 april 1994. there was a light rain, a drizzle, as it is called. but not really cold; only a bit chilly. i lived in the city, so walked to my nearest polling station which was the cape town civic centre. there was a long queue, but it didn´t really matter. the longer queue made things all the more pleasant in that it gave everyone an excuse to linger-longer. there was a buzz in the air, with people chit-chatting to whoever was ahead or behind them: the rainbow nation out in full colour, queueing excitedly to make their mark. that was a great morning. i remember what i felt on walking home that afternoon. and i probably looked a lot like... the cheshire cat (since i am in oxf, there must be an oxf reference (hahaha)).

oh, later the day was (only) slightly marred by reports of alleged voting irregularities in places, but it was difficult to discern if these were legit or merely the usual party-political bickering that occurs (what´s referred to as "crispación" in Spanish, and of which there has been a lot of of late in Spanish politics.).

so, it´s freedom day. happy freedom day to all my S. African compatriots!

some days are just one of those where you "don´t know your arse from your elbow", as my mom would say. well, she said that of other people, never about us, and for sure never about herself. there is the more colourful afrikaans semantic equivalent, which is "rigtingbefok". afrikaans is a beautiful language -- people don´t always seem to understand that i have no hard feelings about having been forced to learn it.

well, thinking about my mom, i thought about how one knew that she was angry. it was always rather subtle. she had no need for harsh words. it was more in the tone. you knew you had pushed your luck when she stopped to look at you with those green eyes of hers, and said "i´ll box your ears". or another indication was when she would run through the names of siblings before she got to yours. and at that, there aren´t many siblings, so the list was not a long one. but it rang "Sean, Gail, Jennifer!", in that order, from oldest to youngest. then you knew she meant business.

and i write in the past tense because these are things from my childhood. it´s been a long time since i´ve experienced this kind of treatment from her. these days, when i am able to visit, the best thing is when she makes me a scrambled-egg-and-onion sandwich, and a cup of tea. it´s that simple.

but so, i was remembering these things on this freedom day.

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