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The Boston Globe

Opinion

opinion | james zug

South Africa through the looking glass

COLD, SPORADIC showers fell as I drove at dawn through Hout Bay, the fishing village where I lived, to the Hangberg Community Hall. The weather mirrored the mood: Uncertainty hovered over the country. It was Wednesday, April 27, 1994, and South Africa was voting in its first fully democratic elections.

I wore a laminated badge identifying me as “Domestic Election Observer #DO134OOOOO447.” After two long prep sessions, I was still nervous about the possibility of polling-station violence. Car bombs had exploded around the country in the last days before the election; two dozen people had been killed, hundreds more wounded. You wondered: Would South Africa see a peaceful transfer of power? Or would more bombs go off?

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