Why are more than 1 million born frees not registered to vote in the up coming elections?
We are quick to say that we are all responsible for building our nation and being responsible citizens. One way of being responsible citizens in the plight for nation building is by voting, we tell them. I often wonder if by not voting they become irresponsible citizens who cares nothing for their country, its past, present or future. I think it’s a bit presumptuous and arrogant to make such statements without considering the reasons behind the actions. I think it also fails to understand or take into consideration the idealism of our young people and their developmental processes.
As an adult born before 1994, I am conflicted for whom to vote. I am someone who understands the liberation from our historic pain, someone who has known what it means to live in a township riddled by gang violence, substance abuse and a general sense of lostness due to group removals. I am a person who has experienced crime and violence on countless occasions, unemployment and an apathy due to the effects of the past. And while I am not one who normally plays the historic injustice card, it is easy to play the victim and blame the past for these things and yet the converse is true as well. If I did not experience these things I would not understand the historic past and say that it is all excuses for not taking responsibility for my own life. The reality of today exists because of our past. I am conflicted about who to vote for.
Therefore, I find it distasteful that we so quick to pressure our young people to vote for the liberators because that’s the right thing to do, otherwise we would still be stuck in the past. Or if we vote for any other party we would be guilty of bringing back the oppressors to power. I find it distasteful when we pressure our young to vote for the opposition parties because if we do not then we are guilty of condoning corruption and reversing apartheid. Vote against corruption. Vote for the party that delivered us from evil. Vote for service delivery. Vote for justice. Vote for jobs. Vote for … Vote for … And if you don’t vote you do not have a say! The emotional blackmail and guilt of not voting forced upon our vulnerable and impressionable is not a very responsible stance by our adult community.
We may assume our young people may not be all that interested in the past. Or we may assume, instead, that they are more concerned about their future. But by interviewing five young people to find out why they won’t be voting is too simplistic and irresponsible and bad empirical research. We are attempting, even forcing, our opinions as the adult community upon our young people and are not willing to sit down and find out what matters most to them. While the recent spate of news coverage as to why the born-frees are not interested in voting might be a bit too late for this election, it may not be too late for the future of the country.