Mark of freedom

Just after 6am at the voting station at Johannesburg Metropolitan Centre
Just after 6am at the voting station at Johannesburg Metropolitan Centre

Today, Wednesday 7 May 2014, South Africa went to the polls for the 5th time in its 20 year old democracy, so when the alarm went off at 5am, I did not hit the snooze button as I might have if it were a normal working day.  I wasn’t event tempted to.  The minute I opened my eyes, I remembered that today was my opportunity to exercise my democratic right to vote for the party of my choice.  I remembered that it is my moral obligation to ensure that the balance of power in my country does not topple – to the right or the left, and out of respect for those that gave their lives for that freedom and privilege, I got out of bed to go and make my mark.

South Africa has a lot of problems.  We have frightfully high levels of unemployment and poverty;  we have serious issues of corruption;  we have crime – terrible, violent, senseless crime. There is much to be done to fix the state that we are in and I don’t really know how we’re going to do that or how long it is going to take.

What I do know is that we have a powerful Constitution.

Mark of freedom.  My ink marked thumb after voting on 7 May 2014
Mark of freedom. My ink marked thumb after voting on 7 May 2014

As a woman I have equal rights, I am independent and free to vote.  I can drive a car, go out without a male escort, further my education – unlike some countries where women are horribly oppressed.

As a Christian, I am free to worship my God – unlike some countries where people are persecuted for their beliefs.

My gay and lesbian friends can be open about their sexuality – unlike some countries where they would be criminalised.

I am free to associate with whom I please.

I am proudly South African.

When I got home, I realised that because the voting page was full, the IEC official had put the stamp on the firearms licence page of my ID book –  I guess a vote is sort of like a weapon :)

Full page of voting stamps in my South African green, barcoded ID book
Full page of voting stamps in my South African green, barcoded ID book
IEC stamp in the firearm licence page of my South African ID book.
IEC stamp in the firearm licence page of my South African ID book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Mark of freedom

  1. An ID book? That’s interesting. Does everyone hold on to it, not loose it and remember to bring it? How cool to have a ‘record’ like that….

    1. Surprisingly, yes, everyone holds onto it because you can’t do anything without it – open bank accounts, vote, get on an aeroplane, write a university exam. Some places accept drivers’ licence too as ID these days. It is a cool record :)

  2. I remember being so proud to make my mark for yhe first time a few yrs back; for me it meant the end of oppression for people of colour and for all the reasons you mentioned above. But today, after having made my mark for the 3rd time, I’m so saddened by the lack of respect our government has for the very people supporting it. I want to feel proudly South African, but I don’t. I made my mark yesterday and I hope that in time, positive change will come.

  3. I admire your positive attitude to country and to the obligation to vote. Like many others, I think I take the positive things in my country for granted, and am quite disgruntled about the things I don’t like. Often it is hard for me to vote, because I don’t really have a candidate that I feel represents me well. But so far, I have gone to vote despite it all, seeing the act as an obligation. Sometimes just choosing the closer to my own viewpoint, or the lesser of the different evils…

  4. It is wonderful that the SA constitution provides for so many human rights, but where is the government’s action on economics? SA’s 25% unemployment rate is the same as the US rate during the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s — which was considered a national catastrophe. Even our 10% unemployment in 2009 was seen as a crisis. And SA’s youth unemployment of 50% is appalling.

    Regardless of what party is in power, there should be greater emphasis on providing quality education and job opportunities for all. Generations of young people will be lost without meaningful experience in the workforce. And the corporate sector needs to do its part as well, providing resources and programs to improve schools, libraries and internet access.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir; I just needed to vent, especially now that I have a vested interest in a new workforce candidate!

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