AS THE countdown to the first National Convention to be seen after the democratic dispensation was getting closer, I became a bit less of my true self.
Central to this state of worry were many questions, among them the coming convention. Was it a true breakthrough or was I just being carried along by a political wave with less significance than what I was looking for?
I recall telling myself that I am going to be part of the turning moment in South African politics. And if I leave home weak I will get strong along the way - and no matter how long the journey, I will take it.
Who could stand to face and challenge the ANC and succeed? Where will one live after that convention? Will I still connect with people of my society or will I be treated like a traitor?
These were among the voices that kept on talking to me, loudest of which was: "All members of the ANC who have gone to that convention must know that they have expelled themselves from ANC."
As I go down memory lane to that fateful day of November 1 2008, I look about with a bit of a sobbing heart and a glowing face. I feel heroic, I pat myself on the back and I know I did it when many felt it was a bit early.
Those who had doubts were those who would fall and fail. I enjoyed what I did and remembered to smile every step of the way because I knew my hard work and effort made it worthwhile.
The day on which I felt proud to be a South African was that day and it is my take that moment last year in November has not been seized and sustained to best benefit the baby whose mother was in labour to give birth on December 16 in Bloemfontein.
That baby, Cope, must demonstrate the manner in which it restored hope, courage and oneness among South Africans and connected people with an umbilical cord of a "united we stand" sentiment. This was glaring in the spirit and the mood when Cope was launched.
Truth now, though, can only be in admitting that Cope was quickly faced with challenges beyond one's imagination. Among them were the elections and the financial muscle they demand, issues of lists, racial intolerance and lastly the high levels of intimidation and monopoly of political space by the ANC, which were later accompanied by levels of infiltration by ANC planting moles to keep Cope on the back foot.
Could it be then that these challenges are still there, making life difficult for the people's hope? If that is so, why can a political party of this calibre, with political heavyweights, find it difficult to devise a turnaround strategy to take the party back to the centre where it was when it inspired South Africans?
I find it timeous of Cope to now identify itself through policy. Its policy must talk to simple basic things affecting its constituency. Cope must unpack its education, labour, social development, health, agriculture and rural development and housing policies in order to be seen to be talking directly to its members.
I admit to this because many people even now still ask the organisation's stance on BEE and affirmative action.
This means the party must find a way to communicate with the public.
As we marked the first anniversary of Cope yesterday, I have just felt lifted and looking forward to seeing that day when we enter into yet another contract with the people of South Africa.
From someone who trembled during the countdown to the convention, I am on the journey that I would travel again if asked to do so, maybe I may still tremble.
But I would be stronger and even wiser. I believe strongly that the greatest human quality is that of becoming unstoppable.
l Mda is Cope youth leader and writes in her personal capacity