“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty unsexy ways, every day.” David Foster Wallace.
I am part of a fairly large proportion of young South Africans, who did not only misunderstood (some still misunderstand) the concept behind voting but also despised the whole process completely. After digesting the words of Sir David Foster Wallace, I realised the heroine I needed to be for my descendants.
When the voter registration dates drew closer, conversations about voting enormously increased. As it was the case study of many young South Africans, the moment I heard anything synonymous with voting, I shunned my ears and hopped into Twitter where something to laugh about and forget your reality is bound.
Now that I think about it, there is nothing increasingly annoying than a corrupt official telling you about your right to vote when the only thing they are in point of fact concerned about is who you vote for, with their party having to be your first priority, of course.
I always thought to myself, what is the point of this entirely unbeneficial (bearing in mind that I’m like everyone else and I tend to sometimes forget the good moments a person brought through one mistake) process. The reality of the appalling percentage of corrupt state officials and malice in my country completely clouded my judgement and nearly deprived me of a beautiful tale I could through pen, paper and interwebs, foretell my generations.
I will not for a second lie to you, this has been an extremely too long a contemplation process, especially that 2013 has been an unfriendly son of the soil type of a year to me. Living through all kinds of villain engineered forces; from being a statistic of severe depression, undergoing the excruciating throb of unemployment, abuse and crime – to such a high degree that at some point I was left bag-less – minutes before my important presentation, where my whole life, including every legal document a citizen needs to have and two cell-phones (not contactable too) gone in a split second, being worried about being a victim of fraud, to being alive and hating South Africa and the criminals, who are in all ways my brothers and sisters. I have finally decided that I will vote.
I will, with pride and maybe a bit of sunburn or perhaps some wet clothes, on a date still yet to be announced, be shuffling forward in a queue which by the grace of politicians, will move in a speed of light, to cast my vote. For with a better understanding, I am now ready to do so.
Ready does not in any form imply that I believe for a second that there is one political party affiliated individual with ideas, vigour and prowess to overcome the atrocious state of malevolence and detestation we South Africans find ourselves in. It just simply means that I am ready to face the stones and hardships of being a proud and active citizen.
I will vote for I have realised a privilege behind marking an X near somebody whom I’m naïve enough to believe that they will bring change in a split second – that’s how we’re taught to think in this country. Either way, it does not take away from the fact that voting is a significant part of being a citizen in my country. As I know it, voting does not deliver instant change, if any change at all, but it gives the voter a new perspective, a new hope, a new drive and a new understanding.
I remember the first time I voted. It was a different experience. I had anticipated it, called my then boyfriend and he advised me on whom to vote for, not a very political opinion I must say. But I enjoyed it, the fact that I was finally a citizen whose activities were going to be counted. There was a level of excitement that I cannot put into words. All I remember is a smile in my heart that blossomed unto my face and the mounting joy when I actually did the process. It was inspiring. The mysterious X letter holds the victory of my forefathers, those who’s strength, persistence and will-power lives through the supremacy of expressing who you are and what you stand for as an individual. As I stood in the ballot box, I realised that voting ignites the love and belief one has for their country.
I will vote, as a sign of respect and salutation to my forefathers. It is my way of crafting them a gift card, acknowledging and thanking them for taking care of the land and the world which belongs to us. It is my promise that I am willing and will do everything I can to make this world a better place which as the poet once recited, belongs to our descendants. I want my generations to draw inspiration from me, the same way I’m drawing inspiration from the heroes and heroines who are my forefathers/mothers.
Through my vote I will continue the struggle, as our beloved Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela said; the long walk continues. Oh Nelson Mandela that is one man capable of a grand entrance and an outstanding departure, God bless him; may his soul rest in peace. I hope for the devious deeds of politics and politicians, we do not encounter any; ‘do it for Mandela’ type of political canvassing campaigns.
Before this whole thing starts to get boring, I would like for my compatriots, who’ve not yet registered to vote, to chew on Coretta Scott-King’s words; freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation. That is what we have not taught young people, or older ones for that matter. You do not finally win a state of freedom that is protected forever. It doesn’t work that way.
My fellow youngsters, I would like all of you to contemplate about the kind of nation you want your future generations to look back to. And always remind yourselves to take part in your own country and be proud of where you come from so that your generations will be proud that they stem from your withins. If however, you plan not to vote, bear this in mind; if you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote. By David Foster Wallace.