I have had the fortune of meeting a myriad of African youths who have made a
difference in the lives of ordinary citizens. Both national and especially beyond
the borders of the Continent. In my past life – say 4 to 5 years ago – I thought
being in a political structure could be the manner in which I could deliver
change in the country. I returned from Tanzania in 2014 from a brief visit of the
exile camps in Morogoro with a burning desire to contribute. I had understood
and saw with my own eyes some of the sacrifices people made by fleeing the
country in hope of finally achieving “freedom”. After seeing gravesites with
names and surnames I could identify with home, my heart sank momentarily
but that was, if I must be honest, my turning point.
You see for people who were fortunate to grow up with their wants being even
marginally satisfied, it’s hard to imagine what desperation looks like. It’s hard
to understand in practice that across the road from where you live, behind the
green, leafy trees of Seaglen Gardens in Durban, there are people who fear for
their belongings being flooded each time heavy rains pay them a visit. What
we say are soothing sounds which allow us to concentrate when studying for
our higher degree exams against an annoying younger brother who refuses to
stop changing the many channels provided to him by his parents DSTV
subscription; for someone else, easily results in a loss of shelter. At the end of
the day, close to 3 decades after Madiba’s release from prison there are
countless citizens who still sleep without knowing if they’re going to have a
meal. There are still students in the same institution I work for who sleep in
the library because they can’t afford residence.
Over the past week I’ve asked many of my peers if they knew who they were
going to vote for. Many responded with, “I’m still deciding if I’m going to vote”.
I don’t have to say that this is worrisome, and indicative of the leadership void
we have encountered in the past. To be honest, the cracks left by the
governing forces have made so many of us sceptical of the current leadership.
We are so hurt as a society that we see it pointless to even vote. The saying
“your vote counts” has turned into “your vote will be counted” because if
we’re being honest that is all that vote might be good for – numbers!
I had decided I would NOT vote. I had concluded that there is no direct
correlation between my vote and the realisation of the change I want to see. I
decided that voting because it is my right to do so is no longer enough for me. I
decided I would not vote because I believe that I [and my colleagues in various
structures] have been able to make a difference to the lives of ordinary people
in the country. For all intents and purposes I have evidence that the average
person like you and I, can start meaningful, life impacting movements without
any affiliation to any political party. I have tangible proof in fact, that the youth
formations outside political party youth structures have created more impact
to the ordinary lives of people.
I have however, a day before elections, decided to vote. Only because there
was a voice in my ear that argued that the change I [and my colleagues] have
been able to administer and the opportunities I have enjoyed over the years as
I grew my career, were possible because one day – people voted. I did
however tell this voice that whispered on the other side of my phone, that this
reasoning would not be enough moving forward. So, I urge you to vote, or I
hope you voted depending on when you read this. But more importantly I
want to share that my vote is not and will never be enough for me to see the
change I want to see. And I have a feeling, this may also be the case for you.
Voting is simply not enough, not in our climate!
Perhaps one day we’ll wake up and individuals will be able to run for office
without the heavy political party burden. That aught to put a spanner in the