Yesterday was the municipal elections day in South Africa. A day when we got to go out and vote for our local representatives. There were ridiculously long queues all over the place, some of them up to 2 hours waiting time. A few people complained about having to wait so long – the day was declared a public holiday so that all South Africans were able to make their way down to the polling stations and make their mark.My vote is my voice! #IVoted #Elections2016 Click To Tweet
Honestly, I really don’t see any reason not to stand and wait to be a part of making the decisions in your country on a day provided to you for that exact reason. We went with our baby prepared to stand for as long as it took until we could be a part of history.
Luckily for us though, they take kindly on the disabled, elderly, pregnant and parents of babies and we were sent to the front of the queue. Either way, I would have waited no matter the weather. My husband and I were prepared to take turns going to vote if we had to if the weather was too awful to take Oden out into. I would have stood there for days if I had to!
A few people made it very clear that they didn’t appreciate the thumb images being posted after voting. Part of the process of voting is having your thumb marked with ink that can’t be removed to prevent double voting. I was one of those people who proudly shared images of my thumb mark all over social media and here’s why!
Growing up as a mixed race family meant we were treated differently. During Apartheid, there was often a struggle for my dad to move freely with me in South Africa. Many times he was questioned for having this “white” child with him. You see, my father is mixed race but my mother is white.
I was born with fair skin and didn’t look much like my father. Growing up with a dark dad meant that we were often treated as less than! Prejudiced and mistreated. Often we were turned away for being too black to use services or stay in certain places. It was grim.
I remember feeling so confused as a child after being turned away from accommodation in Sodwana Bay. Why weren’t we allowed to stay there? What was wrong with us?
Then the government changed and things got better for us. Suddenly, we had rights. We had voices. We were treated and recognised as people in the eyes of the law. Suddenly we were human.
With such a low voting turn out at only 55%, being able to vote doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone but to me, it’s a complete privilege. I remember my grandfather talking about how he wished he could vote and often had in-depth political discussions with him. He was a sworn supporter of the ANC purely because they gave us our freedom. They were the reason we had rights at all. He would have done anything to have been at the polling station. He was always so outspoken about the importance of being political active and politically aware.
It pains me to see what has become of the party that brought us freedom. I don’t vote for them. Not because I don’t support the ANC and what it stands for but because of what it has become. I vote for the opposition but I certainly don’t agree with everything they do and stand for. I vote for competition. I vote for keeping balance in things. I doubt I will always vote for them.
I hope that eventually the ANC will return to its former glory. I hope they finally stand by what they believe in but for now, I will keep voting in every single election that I can. My vote matters because it has the power to change things. I can’t sit at home and talk about how unhappy I am with the way things are being run if I don’t make my voice heard when it matters.
So no matter the weather, no matter the time it takes, no matter what, I will vote! And then I will share proudly my ink-stained thumb for all the world to see because as a woman, as a non white member of society, I didn’t always have the opportunity to be counted. I didn’t always matter – but I do now and there’s no way I’m wasting that chance!
I vote because voting for a democratic country meant we were finally all equal. I vote because I care about our history and our future. I vote because I want my son to live in the best possible country. I believe so strongly in the future of South Africa. I am so proud to be able to play a role in the direction we take as a nation. I am so proud to have been able to vote. I am so proud of my country!
#IVoted did you?