Not Another Election Article.

‘Twas Halloween and the ghosts were out
And everywhere they’d go, they’d shout
And though I covered my eyes, I knew
They’d go away

But fear’s the only thing I saw
And three days later it was clear to all
That nothing is as scary as election day

But the day after is darker
And darker and darker it goes
Who knows, maybe the plans will change
Who knows, maybe he’s not deranged

The newsmen know what they know, but they
Know even less than what they say
And I don’t know who I can trust
For they come what may

‘Cause we believed in our candidate
But even more it’s the one we hate
I needed someone I could shake
On election day

But the day after is darker
And deeper and deeper we go
Who knows, maybe it’s all a dream
Who knows if I’ll wake up and scream

I love the things that you’ve given me
I cherish you, my dear country
But sometimes I don’t understand
The way we play

I love the things that you’ve given me
And most of all that I am free
To have a song that I can sing
On election day

These are the lyrics to Election Day (My Dear Country) by Norah Jones, released in 2007 from her third album, Not Too Late.

I heard this song the same year I was to cast my very first vote as a South African adult (just in South Africa, not my parents’ house, where I lived, and still live. I was no adult there. No ma’am!). I remember the breath of fresh air that it was to hear this beautiful, semi-satirical piece of art about a matter I had taken so very seriously. You see, I was in grade 12, I was starting to make important and permanent decisions about my life, the adulthood I had been dreaming about forever; also, my teachers drilled the importance of using our blood-stained right by taking to the polls into us every chance they got. I was one of those kids who listened, if I was told to take something seriously, I took something seriously. I would make a decision and be told to ‘consider it a little more”, I did just that… Do you see why it was such a problem that even with that flaw, I was considered an adult, I was considered ready to ‘stand up and be counted’; even though I was so easily persuaded. I didn’t even know how gullible I was, I thought I was responsible; I took a serious matter seriously! Thankfully though, we had Animal Farm by George Orwell as our English novel that year so we had the privilege of learning a little more about the possible consequences of our political choices from the analyzing of that story… those that paid attention that is. I know I said I listened back then, that doesn’t always mean paying attention, I hated reading back then, I’m not exaggerating. You know what else I hated back then? The news. This is who was deemed ready to take up the sacred right to vote; a naïve, misinformed, spineless teenager. The law called me an adult, but in all honesty, I was an overgrown child.

The following year I was a journalism student. Not only did I have to read and listen to the news now, I actually enjoyed it- thankfully. A few months after I cast my first national vote, I was ready. I was in the world, I could see all of it. I watched my mother pay my first year tuition fees all at once. I had never seen that much money in my whole life! I took the train to and from campus, I would leave home at 05:30 for an 08:00 class I would sometimes be late because I experienced the effects of the cable theft that adverts I found funny the year before spoke of. I got to walk through the nicest and filthiest parts (a block from each other) of Braamfontein in the crime ridden Johannesburg inner city, I saw homeless people asleep under the Nelson Mandela Bridge every single morning, even when I had three layers of clothing on.

How ironic was that? I was born a year before Nelson Mandela became the first black and democratically elected president of South Africa. In a speech that he gave after his release, one that will forever be right up there with Dr. King’s I have a dream speech as well as those of other revolutionists, he greeted his audience “in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.”   He ended that speech by repeating words he spoke in his 1964 trail “…. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.” Decades later, I saw young people asleep under the Nelson Mandela Bridge while I was on my way to a private college. I am in no way pointing fingers; Jesus Himself acknowledged and accepted that the poor would always be among us. These are all things I became aware of after casting my vote, the real South Africa. No propaganda, no ghostly promises as Ms. Jones sings. The truth.

The truth is it’s going to take much longer than everyone may have hoped for the normalization of any nation that has been under tyrant government; the truth is it may never happen. We may eventually get the life we were promised, or we may not. So we learn and we teach and we promise ourselves the lives that we want and we get them! My parents and teachers tried to educate me enough about the politics of our country the best they could without coercing me, but I just wasn’t ready. Just last week I was telling my 18-year old brother that he needs exercise his right to vote when he told me he wasn’t going to because he’s confused by all the things the politicians say. That is being responsible. Wouldn’t we rather have educated votes instead of “I think” and “eenie meenie miney mo” votes that could affect a great part of our nation’s future? For years majority of the voting campaigns have been aimed at the youth because there’s a lot more of us, there’s also a lot more of us that don’t vote. Here’s the thing, today’s politics will affect us longer than they will affect those that came before us.

This post is basically a call to educate yourselves and any youngin around you before you mark that spot on May 8th, South Africans. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. Just make sure that next time, you are.

Yours Sincerely,

Tshepiso Molakeng,

Quality Growth International

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