With the Local Government elections approaching, I can’t help but remember the 2009 National election. I was a first time voter and to me it was a huge deal. It meant that I could officially scrutinise governmental policies and regulations, but over and above that, I gained accountability in the growth/stagnation of South Africa.
Many of my counterparts found my excitement at being a first time voter, ridiculous, more so as I was fortunate enough to be of the ‘Freedom Generation’. However, it was a big deal for me as it has a sentimental value that transcends gaining accountability as a citizen of the state.
I am fully aware that lives were slain for me (as a black woman) to get that vote; loved ones were lost, maimed and others damaged beyond repair to ensure that I am able to make my mark. Also, as much as it is my right to vote, I am painfully aware that not everyone lived long enough to exercise that right and that worldwide, millions are being deprived of that right. As such, my vote is not merely about making a mark just for the sake of doing it, it is about paying tribute to those whose lives were lost; it is about remembering and acknowledging those who never lived to do it; it is about standing in solidarity with the millions of women who might never get to do it and my vote is also for all my African brothers and sisters who do not know that it is possible to be free, while on African soil. My vote is also a tribute to those for whom election time brings nothing but conflict and violence, something I’ve been fortunate enough to never experience. All this comes down to, is that through voting, I claim a right and accept a duty denied to many of my fellow human beings.
So yes, voting is a big deal as it affects more than just the person voting, it has a wider social and sentimental value too, particularly within the South African (and African) context.