Voting is like being in love. Every so often we need to assess the nature of the relationship.
Wednesday May 8, Election Day, presents us with an occasion to say to the party of our choice: “Due to irreconcilable differences, it is time for a divorce.”
Or, “I am so tired of your infidelity. But, for the sake of the children, I am giving you another chance”. Very few would be saying, “Ai, skat, where will I find another love like yours, even though, like the Teddy Pendergrass anthem, you lead us to ‘turn off the lights, and light a candle’.”
On Wednesday April 27, 1994, the then Bishopscourt press liaison officer, John Allen, and I accompanied Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his visits to various voting points throughout that day. We cast our votes at a polling station in Gugulethu.
It had been almost a year to the day when Chris Hani had been assassinated on April 10 of the previous year. At the time I was the parish priest in Gugulethu and the day after Hani’s death we held a memorial service.
The mood was tense and during the singing of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, some stood with their arms raised and hands open as PAC members. Others with the clenched fist of the ANC. A member of the Mothers’ Union raised her left hand in the sign of the ANC and her right, the opened hand of the PAC. Maybe like that mother, we can recognise our differences and act for the better good of all by holding them in balance, together.
In my courting days, my mum-in-law-to-be would sometimes shout from her bedroom whenever I overstayed my visit: “Doesn’t he have a home?!” Chastised, I would leave but I always returned ’cause good loving is worth engaging the uneasy bits for. We are building a nation and, falling in love with each other, will take some time. But our children can learn from our intention and our attitude. Speak to them about why you are voting differently this year.
Ears which have heard us talk about each other should hear our laughter as we edge away from the abyss of our past and present history.
Let them experience, in our homes, how the concrete walls of perceived differences can be broken down. We gave them this world so let us lead with the example of the remaking of it.
Voting contra to our comfort levels will not fix corruption overnight. But we will be in a better position on May 9, 2019, to ensure that the gates of Pollsmoor are wide open for the thieves and their cohorts. But, there is more of an introspective reason why I will place my cross next to the face of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The policies of the ANC weigh well on the gospel scales of The Beatitudes. But I am an apologist for the Christian faith. I know what it means to have good policies, as in doctrine and credal statements. But I see our Church’s numbers dwindle, in part, because of our failure to do what is required of us: “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” with God.
The Church, especially the clergy, should not look to the heavens, but to our inner lives, and to look for Jesus in our midst. To vote in faith, and be willing to be touched by the wounds of the crucified poor and outcast. Vote and be part of the healing of our nation.
May the words of the hymn composed by Reverend Tiyo Soga form part of our prayers in the coming days:
Lizalis’ idinga lakho, Fulfil your promise
Thixo Nkosi yenyaniso! Faithful God
Zonk’ iintlanga, zonk’ izizwe, All races, all nations
Ma zizuze usindiso. Must be saved.
* Weeder is the dean of St George’s Cathedral.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.