Do The Right Thing

Some of the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard about Namibia have been told by my parents. They are two people who lived through the South African occupation of our country, made it through the 90s and are still alive and well today. So much has changed in the time they have been on this earth, and the wisdom and knowledge they possess is incomparable.

Life used to be so different for people who looked like us. Namibia was a hostile place for natives but somehow people still went to school, persevered, fell in love, built families and chased their dreams.

There is so much the generations before us had to endure that I cannot even begin to fathom. See, I was born in the 90s. I am part of the ‘born free’ generation that came to this Earth during a time of jubilation for our nation.

In that regard, I have been pretty privileged. All of my life I have had the right to exist on the land of my ancestors, I have been granted countless opportunities to excel and to achieve my wildest dreams and I have not had to live in fear for my life.

I do not take this lightly in any way. When I think about the line in our anthem about those whose “blood watered our freedom”, it is not lost on me that some real and tragic sacrifices were made for us to be where we are today.

When I consider the psychological scars embedded in the minds of our elders, I am humbled and I am grateful.

So many people before us did not get the chance to be as free as we are today.

We are allowed to decide for ourselves what kind of country we have, who we have in power, what kind of laws get passed and other aspects of how this country is run.

Each and every one of us has a say. That is what was fought for, what many laid their lives down for.

I think about this a lot every time election season comes around. Being able to vote and contribute in any way to the direction we head in feels like a privilege. Our parents were granted this for the first time in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

So, it is an opportunity that I never want to waste and one I encourage every single person to take advantage of.

We are so rarely listened to. Our government hardly seems to care about us or remember who they are here to serve and who they must answer to. It can be very easy to believe that there’s not much one can do to influence governance and policy, but this is far from the truth.

I am no political expert, but I don’t think I need to be to have an opinion on this. At the end of the day, politics is just a fancy word used to describe how power is managed in a country. A lot of the time, it’s also a way to gatekeep important discussions and make people feel like they don’t know enough to participate.

But everybody, regardless of their class or background, has a say in what happens. What many of us fail to realise is that the power everyone fights for, lies in our hands.

By going to the polling stations, you are asserting your views and values and taking up space in the conversation about the direction we are all headed.

This is something new, something only afforded to us quite recently and it would be a big shame if you wasted the opportunity you’ve been given.

Even if you feel like you don’t know enough or that none of the candidates are to your liking or that your single vote won’t make a difference, I implore you to make your mark on every ballot paper you get the chance to.

Currently, Namibia is suffering under a one-party system, where the nation’s issues are not debated among leaders with differing views, but rather a cabal all on the same side – their own.

Even if you don’t care about who is in power, you must admit that one party having all the power is bad for us all. Why not use your vote to break the majority it currently enjoys, so that we have a more balanced system?

Even if you are loyal to the ruling party, why not create an environment where it can be held to a certain standard, in order to be audited, questioned and debated?

I promise you, any vote is better than no vote. If you don’t believe there is value in taking part in your civic duty, then you can’t complain later when things have been run into the ground.

Voting will empower you to hold your leaders accountable, it will encourage you to learn more about the political arena around you and it will embolden you to take charge of your life and your future. Don’t miss the opportunity that was denied to so many for so long.

  • * Anne Hambuda is a writer, social commentator and poet . Follow her online or email her for more.

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