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Opinion: There is always hope in the vote

Karel Bruwer - Happy birthday beautiful South Africa. It has been two decades since that promising day in 1994. This year, 2014, bears witness to another seminal election. Many things can and do happen in twenty years’ time. Having been born in 1986, the events leading up to April 1994 left an indelible impression upon my psyche.


Currently, I find myself living in South Korea. It seemed a naturally sane deKarel Bruwercision to practise my right to vote on 30 April, a week before South Africans were to descend upon the polling booths.

But why vote abroad? It does seem like rather a bit of a hassle completing paperwork and working out logistics in order to cast one vote, especially if one is living in a rural town 30-odd kilometres from the DMZ. I did seem to be asking myself this question ahead of the date, considering the lack of suitable candidates in an ocean of self-seeking political ideologues. Who do I vote for? Which party represents my personal values? All valid questions, questions asked more often than not when one finds oneself outside of the motherland.

Here then my simple and humble reason: I wanted to. Living abroad exposes one to the various aspects of geopolitical tensions, simultaneously alien and fascinating to behold. South Africans are always terribly negative and apocalyptic about the country’s future. There is much validation in holding up a critical lens under which to scrutinise the actions (or rather, lack of action) of ruling parties, incumbent leaders and the like. Politics is a dirty business, that’s a universal truth.

There are, however, certain thresholds which, once overstepped, lead to divisive and counterproductive attitudes. I saw the elections of 2014 as my personal opportunity to seek a possible solution to the current toxic political atmosphere. I want South Africa to listen to one another without contempt for the “other”, to recognise the wonderful achievement of a nation so diverse, to accept the hardships and find a possible way to tackle aforementioned obstacles.

I might be an over-optimistic individual, clouded by distance and a relatively untethered idealistic view of such a heterogeneous society. I refuse, however, to accept that my country is lost at sea, without a lifeline, hope, or people who care enough to make things work. Hope is powerful, an indefatigable spirit also. South Africa has both and so much more. I want to believe this, therefore I cast my vote. 

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