COMMEMORATION OF MANDELA’S FIRST DEMOCRATIC VOTE
By: Raymond Padya
“Mr President, I have come to report to you that South Africa is now free.”
These were the words of former President Nelson Mandela standing by the first ANC President John Dube’s grave, after he had cast his first democratic vote.
Mandla Nxumalo, one of the people who accompanied Mandela to Dube’s grave in 1994, repeated these words at Ohlange High School in Inanda during a Woza Inanda Tour yesterday.
The tour, hosted by the eThekwini Municipality, was to celebrate the birthday of Mandela and to honour his contribution to South Africa’s democracy, when he cast the first vote in the country’s first democratic elections at the Ohlange High School in 1994.
Phillip Sithole, the head of Business Support, Markets, and the Durban Tourism Unit, urged people to commemorate their heritage.
“We cannot celebrate the 20 years of democracy without celebrating the fact that Mandela came and voted here in the first place,” he said.
According to Patrick Sithole, Mandela chose to vote at a high school that is next to Dr. John Langalibalele Dube’s house because of political reasons.
“The reason why President Nelson Mandela decided to come and cast his first democratic vote at the Ohlange Institute is because he wanted to honour, the life and time of co-founder and first president of the African National Congress, Dr John Dube,” he said.
Nomvuzo Shabalala, Deputy Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality explained how symbolic and important it is that Mandela chose to vote in Inanda and said that even the whole world recognised this moment. She also urged people to honour the 67 minutes of selfless service on Mandela’s birthday.
“As the eThekwini Municipality, we felt that it is important that when we celebrate his birthday tomorrow and we should also come here to say to all of us we can do more by changing the life of others,” she said.
A prayer session was held and Pastor Dube blessed the crowd with a prayer. The tourists and Inanda community members watched a video of Mandela casting his first vote and they wrote birthday messages for Mandela in the hall where he casted his first vote.
Phillip Sithole explained why the Municipality was hosting this event and how it would change the lives of Inanda residents.
“We are promoting the Inanda root because we believe that as more and more people come to Inanda, that will create a foundation were we can have economic growth in the area,” said Sithole.
One of the community members, Khanyiso Nene, who lives next to Dube’s house, was excited by the turnout of the tourists.
“It’s a pleasure seeing all the people here at the tourist tour. It’s good because now we getting sponsors, people are now coming to sponsor our teams and its improving our society. Even the school is getting more exposure,” Nene said.