What A Time To Be Alive Myesha Jenkins sends an election day letter from South Africa. Myesha Jenkins was an anti-apartheid activist in the U.S. for 20-plus years; then in April 1993 she picked up and moved to Johannesburg, fulfilling a long time dream. In Johannesburg, Myesha works as the South Africa Coordinator of the U.S.-South Africa Sister Community Project, facilitating links between 12 communities in South Africa and their sister cities in the U.S. For the election, Myesha coordinated the work of six U.S. journalists who traveled to South Africa sponsored by the South Africa Media Project, and also of many other U.S. activists who came for the April 26-28 balloting. Myesha is also CrossRoads South Africa correspondent, and she is presently preparing next month's special issue focusing on the world-shaking events that have brought apartheid to an end. (The issue will be co-edited by CrossRoads Board member Frances M. Beal, who travelled to South Africa with the Media Project.) On the day of the voting, Myesha sent the following letter. Well the election is on. What a day. Moving, tense, celebratory, dignified. Masses of people in the streets, long lines, waiting and waiting. Lots of smiles. I didn't get very involved in this, deliberately. Having 15 people in South Africa from the Bay Area meant that I was already overwhelmed. For once I recognized my limitations and was content to keep in phone contact with the folks in East London, Venda, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth; I planned to be a spectator and watch it all on TV. But this morning when Walter, Steve and Nesbit couldn't get my car started, I allowed myself to be convinced to drive to Soweto, to interview folks at the voting stations. And all of a sudden, I was involved. I had no idea where I was going but we found ourselves in Meadowlands and found the polls by following the many, many people walking in the same direction. Hundreds of people snaking from the school out of the yard into the street around the corner and back around. Quietly standing, waiting, laughing, talking, waiting. Yesterday was supposed to have been voting day for the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women, but they were all there today as well. It was quite a sight to see the incredible mix of Black people, old young, middle aged, some with babies, kids playing along side. Nothing but determination on their faces. At 7 a.m., some had already been waiting for four hours; and unfortunately some had to wait much longer as logistics weren't quite together in all too many polling places. But people waited. And they told us they'd wait all day if they had to. "What will the new government do for you?" It will give me a job and a house. It will bring us peace in this country. It means we are free. "How do you feel right now?" I feel happy. For the first time I can say who I want to be this government. I feel good. Over and over again. We went to another poll in Soweto, to find the same thing. And we started to see the long lines everywhere. Coming back into town, the sight was the same. And it didn't matter whether we were talking to the brothers in the line near my house, or the sisters in the line up the street, or the group in the line at the rec center. The TV showed the same thing, ALL OVER THE COUNTRY! There were lots of problems with the actual vote. No one actually knows how many people are in the country or where they are, so it was impossible to really predict what was needed where. Some ballots were missing the IFP sticker, supposedly affixed at the bottom. They ran out of ballots in places. Polls didn't open on time because of lack of equipment or ballots or staff. Trucks broke down, unable to make their delivery of ballots, polling stations, invisible ink. Big, big logistical problems all over the country. A bomb went off in the international section of the Johannesburg airport. The last in a series of blasts that have rocked Joburg, rocked the country killing 21 and injuring over 150 people. There have been numerous bombs at polling stations and other locations that didn't injure people. It has been an assault in a clear attempt to strike fear in the hearts of everyone to make them stay away from the polls, to disrupt the election. The police say they've arrested 30 men, including the brains behind the operation. But while the white right cannot stop the new democracy from being born, they are sending a message that they can terrorize the New South Africa and make plenty of problems for the new government. But they definitely can't stop anything. People are clearly determined, no matter what. Their faces grow grave with concern when you talk about the bombings, there is a tension and alertness in town. But today, looking at the lines and talking to the people, it was as if people were even more determined to create this new democracy. Tomorrow is another day, declared a national holiday to accommodate all those who want to vote. And tomorrow morning I'll go to Alexandra and Eldorado Park and talk to more people with my journalist friends. There was a story of the first babies to be born at the Alex Clinic -- named Freedom, Happiness and Thankful. What a time to be alive.