Sixteen years ago, millions of South Africans voted for the first time. For the first time all South Africans voted together in one election for one country. Sixteen years ago, the South Africa of dreams, dreams of hundreds of years, took concrete shape. For these dreams, many of our predecessors died. The dream of a democratic South Africa was not the only dream on the agenda. There were many contending dreams. But 1994 saw the eventual triumph of the best of all the competing dreams — the dream of one united and democratic South Africa. The long queues of April 1994 told the story of a great people who, in the presence of well-known and well-beaten paths nevertheless chose a road never travelled. It was fraught with difficulties, but 16 years later, we can confidently say, it was the correct road. With more repression and more brutality, the Afrikaners could have held on to power a few more years — in the process helping to bring the country to its knees. Similarly, the liberation movements could have continued to wage their multifaceted “war” of making the country ungovernable, calling for sanctions and cultural boycotts and guerrilla warfare. We could have spilled a few more kilolitres of South African blood and we could have wrecked the economy a little more thoroughly than we had already done by 1994. But in 1994, we chose a different path.
This is an excerpt from a longer, less optimistic piece by Tinyiko Sam Maluleke on thoughtleader.co.za, but, apart from the U.S, national birthdays are days off from pessimism for me ; )