22 April, 2009
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.