> To highlight this week’s election in South Africa, I have decided to let a South African citizen share a voting experience here on my blog, the text is borrowed from The Good News South Africa, an interesting initiative that I have been thinking about copying for Ghana. So this is what happened in South Africa the other day:
Early yesterday morning I took my coffee out on my balcony, and bristled against the chill. It’s suddenly winter in Johannesburg; the trees are all amber, the sun is weaker and that white-blue light has found the horizon. This change in seasons caught me off guard, just like the national elections. I felt unprepared, I felt like I needed more time. As a journalist you would imagine that I’d have my ducks in a row by now; I’m well informed on party policy, events and personalities, but never has this experience been personal, and what could be more personal than deciding the future leaders of my country? So I sat, as a South African, deciding on who should get my vote.
I made a decision to walk this time. The idea came to me as the first sound bites from polling stations around the country started coming in on my radio. My polling station is seven kilometres from my home, so I put on my best walking shoes, placed my Yankees cap on my head, filled a bottle of water, pocketed my iPod and started trapping.
For two hours I wandered through the leafy streets of Johannesburg, greeted friendly folk and stopped to have a cigarette with a newspaper vendor; this is the only place in the world that I want to be right now. There is no vibe like this anywhere else, of that I’m certain.
Instead of thinking about who, I spent most of the frosty morning interrogating the reasons why I should vote. I appreciated that I had a right to vote, but I also had a right not to vote. What I saw was that underpinning my rights, is a responsibility. I am responsible for the leaders I choose, and I have a responsibility to be a participant in this democracy that was so hard fought for and won.
I queued for an hour and twenty minutes to cast my ballot, and as I left the polling station, my mark made, I turned back toward home thinking on the future of my motherland, and my part to play in it.
The election was, as expected won by the ANC, however, not with the same huge marginal as last time.
Picture from a trip I made to the beautiful South Africa in 2005.