Thursday, 3 July 2008

Memories of our first ever democratic elections. Got your dead earthworms?

Anyone who is old enough can remember our first democratic elections in 1994, right? Pretty major event in space and time I would say. My dad was working for the IEC. You would have thought that with a parent involved in the whole process I would have taken the opportunity to see how the voting worked, perhaps even go and see people voting for the first time in their lives, in our first ever free and fair elections. Right?


I remember that we were given a whole week off school during the elections, because they weren’t sure WHAT would happen. In case of Armageddon or aliens in the anal phase, we were sent home. (We were all thinking, sweet, give us free and fair elections any time).

But, my school quaked at the thought of the state of our education after a whole week off. And so they gave us work to do. Roughly 3 weeks worth of work, all to be handed in the day we got back (such opportunists, those teachers, gosh, getting us to do all the work without them).

The week of the election was sunny and bright.

Which I am sure was nice, but I was inside wrestling with bits of gauze and clumps of soil. Our biology teacher had given us a project: to build a mysterious contraption of dubious usefulness that involved numerous bits of (s)crap. As far as I remember, it was supposed to be some kind of trap for soil flora, but how it actually worked I couldn’t tell you then or now. My memory of the whole thing is hazy. It involved a jar filled with turpentine ( or was it meths? Whatever it was, it smelled goood. Weeee. See why my memory of the thing is hazy?), a funnel layered with metal gauze, and soil.

The goggas in the soil were for some reason supposed to fall into the turps and die. Nice. And our teacher would score us on what bugs we had in our sick little death traps.

So, while history was unfolding around me, I was inhaling turps fumes and murdering innocent earthworms.

Now I think back and I wish I had gone with my dad to work, or at least with my mom when she went to vote. How could I have missed such a momentous occasion? I was a spoilt, self absorbed 13 year old horror, who thought of only of herself and of schoolwork. Too busy with my head buried deep in the solvent-smelling sand to appreciate something that would go down in history.

What a waste, I tell you, what a waste.


Khadija said...

I love the smells that emanate from buses. Lol!

I don't think you were self-absorbed, you were only 13..You remind me of something; last year I met a man who said he had taken part in the Soweto uprising. Until police opened fire, alot of them believed that it was just another form of protest, that nothing would happen. It seemed fun and brave, he told me, to join in with the crowds passing his school..

I'm sure, if they had a chance to stay at home, away from school, they would have;-)

po said...

yeah, I guess you are right, it just seems like such a missed opportunity now, thinking back on the stories my dad told me about the whole process. At the time it didn't seem like such a big deal to me. But now I see it for what it was. Too late!