22 April, 2009

Thumbs up!

I went and voted today and I have the inked thumb to prove it.

Woke up this morning...

I woke up not all that excited to go and vote. Sure the novelty had worn off, but it was more the dilemma of who do I vote for. But that is not the point. The point is that I did go and vote some time after 1pm.

I was not going to do the whole waking up at 4am and camping outside of the Rhodes University Theatre (which is where I voted). I value my sleep much too much. After watching all the political leaders and fellow South Africans voting around the country on the various TV channels (local and international), I finally took the not so long walk to the voting station.

Short walk to a long queue

I was pretty relaxed about it, not expecting a long queue at all as I had voted here before and never stood in a queue. I remembered literally popping in and popping right out. Imagine my shock when I arrived and could not see the back of the queue from the front of it. It was going to be a loooong day. I contemplated going back home and coming back 10 minutes before closing time, but a friend I had not seen in about two years, who is now studying in Port Elizabeth, was in town for the day to vote and convinced me to "just get it over with". Easy for her to say when she could see the door from where she was, but she had a point and I made my way to the back of the queue. This is not the kind of queue where your mate can squeeze you in and you crack a joke to diffuse the daggers in the eyes of the people behind you.

As I stood in the line (as we call it in SA) I regretted not bringing a book or my ipod or my phone's hands free at least to free myself from the torture of listening to 'funky' first years talking about cool things and boys. I mean let them talk on but I'll skip it any day. I'm getting old, deal with it.

X marks the party

But I finally made it to the promised land, had my ID scanned and received the little ticket with my ID number on it. Then moved on to the guy with the 'push-back' hair style who crossed out my name on the list. Then it was off to the inking lady, followed by the two ballot paper ladies who handed me my stamped provincial and national ballot papers. Off I went into the booth where my cross was made, after a moment of taking all of it in and what it meant for me and my country. Out the booth, into the boxes they went and with that my contribution to democracy and the future was made. Exhale.

Show me your thumbs up!

I was saying to my sister over the phone tonight that voting is just the first step in us becoming more responsible and active citizens. I think the reason I stood in a longer queue than I had previously, was because South Africans have finally woken up to living out "the people shall govern" and all the political drama has reminded us that we cannot govern on our bottoms. We must get up, go and do something. It's up to us to ensure that our votes mean something by holding the people we voted for accountable to their promises.

So, did you brave the queues and maybe even the cold, as many South Africans did, and voted? Let's see your thumbs up! Take a picture of your inked thumb and post it on the blog.

Sharp sharp!



Sarah said...

"funky" first years hahaha! But more seriously, I agree with your sentiment. This was the first time I actually had to sit and think (and research) about who to vote for, which was a very strange feeling.

But at the same time it shows a healthy democracy, where we are not simply heading towards a one party state. But it all comes down to the results.

Have no pic of an inked thumb Im afraid, but my thumb is surely inked! I think that this election was possibly one of the most important (besides '94), illustrated by the fact that a number of people I have spoken to were not sure who to vote for... but I still made my mark and made it count!

Boitumelo said...

I was in the q for 3 hours before I made my mark next to the party of my choice. Not before I got an sms and phone call from my dad and aunt telling me who to vote for!?! I left home and when my daughter cried for me I told her that I was going to do my bit to secure her future...she gave me a look like ??
My husband and I actually had an interesting time in the q. It was quite colourful- from the languages to the different generations, some party supporters (guess who) had a 'bula boot' marathon going with their banners and quite envialble rides. Obviously missing the point that a voting station was really not the time or place for this... The rest of us where just trying to vote and not pick up any hassles and drama. I made my mark after 3 hours, felt quite responsible and did what I had dying to do since I got there: I looked down on the people in the winding q outside like 'I'm done- good luck', went home and had soup. It was a good day and i look forward to what lies ahead.

Future Journalists Programme said...

Boitumelo, I went home and had soup too!!

Thank for the comment. Do I know you? Daughter, husband, the bit of Setswana there, mmh... I think I might!

Anele-09 said...

Hello there! You just had to mention the 'push-back' hairstyle!

Im glad your friend pursuaded you to vote- as mentioned; you're an importand particle in this 'bubble' of Grahamstown and voting changes alot for the people around us. Unfortunately; long lines and the 'hyper-behaviour' of first years will never change- they are an inevitable part of administration queues on campus.

Im so sad though because I havn't been able to upload a picture of my ink-stained thumb- the digital technology has overwhelmed me. But I will make an effort to try.

Chwayitisa 09 said...

Congrats on making your mark...I am still so excited, gushing from ear to ear...I VOTED!!! Hahahahahahaha even the result cant hold me down. Oh and I am watching Manchester United WHIP Tottenham....whoohoo.