Africa 1994.jpg
A First Election

It is difficult to overstate the excitement, the sense of elation among black South Africans who voted for the first time on April 26, 1994.   Archibald Mkese, one man I met, very nearly missed casting his ballot.  

The television script below is as it was broadcast on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.   The story can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/jimlaurie1#p/a/u/4/WFD-0Um9FjI

ABC News Laurie Johannesburg South Africa 26 April 1994 Program: World News Tonight

INTRO O/C JOHANNESBURG:  Peter Jennings:  “For black South Africans it is the moment to reclaim their forefathers dignity.  Here’s ABC’s Jim Laurie”



Old women walking

Young man carrying old man

 Woman in a wheel barrow

 Woman hugging woman


Woman speaking

 Man speaking

 2nd woman speaking


Old people voting

  w/s Soweto township

  Jim Laurie on camera

SUPER: Jim Laurie,                        Soweto

 Crowded voting station

 CU door of voting area

 Old couple walking toward camera


Mr Mkese INT

 Jim with election official

 Election office INT


Jabu INT


Jabu Mkhatshwa

   Soweto Resident


Voting station pix

 Close up old woman

 Shots of old people walking with cane

(short up sound natsot)

 VO: They had waited a lifetime for this day.

A father carried to and from the voting station on his son’s back. 

A mother arrived by wheelbarrow.

 (short up sound natsot woman laughs)

 An emotional day for all.

 SOT: This is so exciting.  We are so excited.  We cannot contain ourselves.

 SOT:  Anything can happen to me now- I don’t mind -  as long as I cast my vote

 SOT:   This is a very big day for us.

 VO: Today was reserved for older voters and those with special circumstances.   They voted – with a little help – at old age homes, at hospitals, a special day for all.

 But here in Soweto and many other places, things did not go quite as planned. 

SOT:  The determination to vote for the first time is strong here but it hasn’t been easy.  Some of these older people got here at 630 this morning.  Eight hours later, they are still waiting.

 Voting stations were overcrowded and ill prepared.

 This one opened five hours late because pencils, boxes, and ballot papers had not arrived.

 80 year old Archibald Mkese and his wife were about to go home without voting when we saw them.

 SOT: We go there and there and there I don’t know what is going on. 

 VO: Soon an election official arrived and promised them a ride to a less crowded station.

 SOT: It won’t be too long.  I’m around.

 VO: Others were less fortunate.  Some were overcome by hunger and exhaustion after the long wait.

 And there may have been lost votes.

 SOT: People now, some of them who return home

They’ll never come back again.   Because they will say tomorrow will be the same thing.

 VO: Tomorrow with voting open to everyone over the age of 18, many expect polling stations to be overwhelmed.

 There’s already talk of extending the voting period.

 So many have waited so long…

Three days is just not enough to change history.

 Jim Laurie ABC News Soweto.