April 23, 2009 § 5 Comments
I walk into the voting station and a surge of emotion overcomes me, maybe it’s adrenaline or my mind is beginning to realize what I’m about to do, I don’t know, I’m not a shrink.
I tell the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) official who had my Identity Document (ID) to handle it with care because it’s in pieces, literally. I even tried to staple the pages together at some point because I wanted to prevent the pages from falling off, but some of the staples have fallen off. The black and white photo in the green ID does not look anything like the owner. In the photo I like a criminal, a wanted man, in fact it looks like a mug shot. Before I even present it to the IEC official I tell her that I promise the man inside there that doesn’t look like me, is in fact me. She opens the ID, looks at me and does not believe that it’s me. Then she says she can tell by the eyes, she laughs and shows the unfortunate ID photo to another official, who laughs at the state of the ID then at me. I’m unperturbed, I experience this mockery every time I go to a bank.
In fact I experienced it outside while in the queue when my so called friends laughed (yes, you Xolisa, Anele, Fix, Simone and Sizwe) their rear ends off, first at the state of my ID which has seen many a washing machine trips, then at my photo. They mocked me by playing cards with its pages. Fix even had the audacity to impersonate the host of an ancient TV program, “Ngomgqibelo Kamukibelo”. She pretended that the pages were money. She counted as she handed me the pages of my ID one by one by shouting, and all of them in unison, “One hundred! Two hundred! Three Hundred!” Not funny.
Inside the voting stations I can feel anxiety go through me and I try to distract myself by talking to the bored and tired elections officials. They direct me to the lady that’s going to put ink on my thumb to prove that I had in fact voted. I notice that she looks tired and irritable, I mention this to her and she tells me she’d been there since 6 in the morning. As she paints my thumb with the purple ink I tell her that I am disappointed with her job because, “I thought you were going to write, ‘I love Khaya.’” She laughs and retorts by saying “Maybe next time.” At least I leave her smiling. My heart is pounding and I feel a little shaky.
I move on to the next table where I am given my ballot paper. I take it and I make some stupid comment, as I am prone to do. The guy laughs, then I proclaim my nervousness and the official tells me to go do my duty for my country, I oblige. I arrive at the booth and unfold my ballot and see the million and one party name on the ballot paper and realize that a number of trees no longer exist so we could vote.
After unfolding my ballot, just before I make my cross, I put my hands on my face for a couple of seconds and say a little prayer, my heart is beating from what I can imagine is adrenaline. I look down and I see the ANC, DA and Cope. Those are the only parties I see for some reason. I take a deep breath. I can’t believe I’m about to vote for anyone but the ANC. I reach out for the pen inside the booth and lift it towards me. I put my hands on my face again and ask God to help me be guided by reason and not emotion. After all I will not be voting for the party of Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and many other heroes. I did not anticipate the profound trauma I would feel.
The moments before putting the cross are traumatic. Eventually I make my mark next to Cope. It feels good but I am emotioned out. Earlier, a cousin of mine had told us that voting felt very emotional for him, especially realizing that he was not voting for the ANC. I just thought that he was being a girl. I took no heed to what he experienced.
I can imagine that some people who may have intended to put their cross next to Cope must have been so overwhelmed with emotion that they just marked by the green, gold and black flag.
Finally I will myself out of the voting booth after what seems like unaphakade (an eternity). I walk to the ballot box. I try to get over my emotional state by joking with the elections official who has been given the mundane but crucial task of making sure that we insert our ballots in the cardboard ballot box. As I place my ballot in the box stuffed with ballot papers, I smile as though posing for a camera. I pose for a second anticipating a camera flash. I ask the election official, “Dude, where are the cameras and the news folk?” He laughs and tells me that maybe they didn’t know I was going to cast my vote over there.
In the car, my friends ask me if I was ok because I was very quite. I tell them I am. I am on my phone updating my twitter (follow me on http://twitter.com/khayadlanga). That was not the reason for my silence though, I was just coming to terms with what had happened in the voting booth. A lot was going through me. It was not easy not voting for something I had loved for so long. It felt like a break up. But voting for Cope felt right and amazing. Voting for this 125-day-old baby. She is a child that I have to look after now, take care of and make sure I never have to abandon her, or she me.
April 6, 2009 § 4 Comments
South Africans remind me of a girl with an abusive boyfriend. He beats (excuse my Xhosa) the shit out of her. Every now and then he tells her “I won’t beat you again, I love you”. They cuddle up and cosy up. Then he beats her up again. The girl knows the relationship is not ideal, it is not the best relationship but keeps making excuses for him and his behaviour. “But he loves me” she keeps telling her friends through broken teeth and ribs.
Then she says: “Anyway before I met him I was down and out and in the dumps. I had nothing. I was a nobody. He made me who I am. He took me in, helped me get a good job and a better education. He introduced me to celebrities, Moet, cigars and all the glitz and glamour. He cares for me even though he gave me a blue eye yesterday and will probably give me another tomorrow. To be fair I owe him.”
She believes in her heart of hearts that she cannot find anyone better. “I am used to him” she tells friends who tell her to get out of the relationship. “I don’t want to get used to someone new all over again.” Then she continues to stay in the abusive relationship where she used to be the significant other and is now the insignificant other. The many trips to the hospital do nothing to dissuade her. Like a perfect gentleman he goes to the hospital to pick her up when she leaves the hospital because he cares. She never lays charges. She is convinced that he still cares because he was sweet enough to pick her up from the hospital.
“He only beats me because he loves me” she tells her friends. Of course by the time she wakes up it’s too late. This is what’s happening to South Africa right now. But we can change this, we only need to want to change the situation bad enough.
How badly do you want to get out of this relationship with the ANC?
March 12, 2009 § 7 Comments
And I mean it. I think he is a pretty pleasant and probably funny guy too. I can’t help but imagine exchanging slaps on the back and doubling back in laughter as we have chats about whatever it is that young men talk about. As much as I take issue with some of the things he has said and what he stands for politically, that does not mean that I wouldn’t or shouldn’t get along with him personally.
There is no doubt that some people might take issue with what I just said. Particularly those who see Malema as a fumbling idiot who does not know when to shut up. That would be understandable considering some of the things I have written about him. As people, we tend to have no separation between the public figure and the fact that he is also an average guy who likes to have a drink and talk about girls. Those of us who are not public figures all have friends we disagree with on almost everything – but we don’t stop being friends simply because we disagree. We need to be able to separate the personality from their politics.
I imagine some of my friends would give me odd looks if I told them that I went go-carting with Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma (not that I have, don’t start spreading rumours now). “How could you hang out with them after all the things they have said?” Well, I would remind those people that in my friendship circles I have friends who are pastors and atheists, friends who are womanisers and friends who have had the same and only girlfriend for the past five years. In our dealings with the complexities of human engagement, we all have these contradictions in our friendship circles. Why then can we not have friends who hold differing political views without being enemies? But that does not mean we can’t be honest in our disagreements with them.
One’s political position does not define who they are; it defines what they stand for politically. We are not our politics. We are people before we have a political position.
Thabo Mbeki is probably not the easiest person in the world to get along with, but that does not mean that one should dislike his politics simply because one does not like him as a person. I imagine being a friend with him requires a lot of work, he must not see you as just a waste of his time if you are to be his friend. I also suspect that once he has brought you into his inner circle you would have great laughs, and probably an intellectually meaningful relationship.
We should not vote for people simply because we like them. Nor should we not vote for them because we don’t like their personalities. Competence, character and ability seem to run a distant second when people vote, which is most unfortunate. How else can we justify the fact that most voters don’t trust Zuma but somehow he still garners more votes according to opinion polls? I understand that someone is going to comment and say that it’s not him, it’s because of the party.
Like I said, I’d have a drink with Julius, I’d tease him about his political views because I know he is set in his ways. I don’t see him changing them. He would probably tease me about mine too. Much hilarity would ensue I imagine. Naturally I’d have more to laugh about. I’d talk about showers and fake accents amongst other things. I don’t know, maybe I’m just idealistic.
There are many people I agree with on almost every issue yet I cannot stand. Just as there are people who agree with me but just cannot stand me. Understandably, if I were someone else I wouldn’t stand myself either.
Just to make things clear, I’m not ANCist or anything, some of my best friends are in the ANC. I think I’m beginning to sound like a Malema, Bush and Zuma apologist. Having said what I have, I am still voting COPE and I hope you all do.