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Jonathan Butler remembers when black South Africans gained the right to vote


Raj NaikIn the wake of Tuesday’s midterm elections, Jonathan Butler is remembering when black South Africans gained the right to vote in 1994.

The Grammy-nominated singer was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and for him, it was a dream come true when Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa in the ’94 elections.  Butler remembers it was the youth of South Africa that led the revolution.

“That movement and to be able to vote in South Africa for a new South Africa, for a free South Africa…you go to South Africa today and you see a black and a white kid and a mixed-race kid. They are friends,” Butler tells ABC Radio.

Butler, now a U.S. citizen, says voting develops pride, and a better future for the youth of a country.

“That’s what we voted for in South Africa,” he says. “That’s why today there’s a sense of pride when you walk down a street in Jova, Capetown. There’s a sense of belonging and not displacement.”

“I think that is something that’s so important, and voting in South Africa meant that we always remembered our story, from Robben Island, [where Mandela was imprisoned] — for every political leader that was put in prison.  And we have the power in our hands to vote and to change the country.” 

Butler now lives in Los Angeles, but he returns regularly to his home country.

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