In 1994, 19 years old, I got to answer phones in the ANC’s media centre in downtown Johannesburg’s Carlton Centre during SA’s first democratic elections and cast my first vote at the Johannesburg Civic Centre. It was almost empty due to an earlier bomb scare, which allowed us to get back quickly to the switchboard. I remember that time as frantic and the people as anxious, but also the sharpest sense of indescribable hope.

Two years before, in my matric year, I had walked the streets of Warsaw with my grandfather, after his return to a country he had fled more than 50 years before. He made observations about the industriousness of the Polish people and the damage done to a collective psyche by years of Soviet control. But if he carried with him the traumas of an early life ruptured by war, a family destroyed and a half-century of exile, I saw in his reunification with his sister, and with Poland, that the forces of history might carry us up...

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