Thursday, 3 May 2012

Diary of a Disenchanted Voter (conclusion)

I navigated the corner gingerly as if unsure of my footing. A few feet ahead of me an arrow pointed in the direction of a church. Further down, an A4 paper with the words 'Polling station' printed it on it gazed at me unashamedly. Now I knew it was crunch time: it was either a left turn or the 'highway'.

My feet rhymed with my emotions. They brushed against the pavement reluctantly. Do I walk in and vote or do I walk away? I asked myself. I remembered the wise words of relentless builder - 'Expend your right to vote!'

Voices exploded in my ears - 'just walk in' 'go home girl' 'stop being so indecisive' - yikes!

I was nonplussed. I wanted to vote but I just couldn't pin down a specific candidate. I attempted a quick mental rerun of the candidates: boring Ken Livingstone, mumbling Boris Johnson and a pocketful of bluffers.  If enthusiasm were to be measured in temperature, I would have come in at minus 20 degrees Celsius.

I was now standing right in front of the church. A few more seconds of indecision whizzed past me before my legs made up their mind - homeward they trudged!

Over my plate of steaming garri and okro soup I read Chuks comments. He set the guilt gremlins on me, I tell you. 'Politics is a reality that impacts all of us regardless of what we think or if we partake', he wrote. Suddenly my soup scented fingers looked like culprits. They had conspired against me. They should have been in the polling booth not buried in a bowl of soup. Oh well, it was 9pm. Couldn't be bothered to dress up again and race back to the booth before they packed in. Besides, I just didn't dig any of the candidates.

Try as I might to romanticise the need to vote, I can't cast a vote for someone who has nothing to offer. Nothing strikes a chord. Nothing appeals remotely.

Yet I couldn't shake off the feeling of emptiness that was beginning to rise up my chest like undigested food. I had forfeited an opportunity that comes intermittently. It is a right that British women once fought for in the 19th and 20th century during the suffrage movement. A right the blacks wrestled for in America. It dawned on me that this generation has things too easy so we tend to take much for granted. Probably that's why politics is on a downward spiral - people have stopped caring so the politicians can get away with murder.

We don't feel like caring; we don't see the need to care so we don't care. I often read about voting apathy among young people and how an increasing number of people have switched off from politics. It's not healthy for us or for our future, as Chuks and relentless builder pointed out.

I think our generation is locked in a cycle of seamless entertainment, celebrity obsession, ever evolving gadgets and consumerism. Unfortunately these gimmicks leave us no mental space to think of weightier issues. They have become the new form of politics we can relate with.  

I still do not regret failing to vote for any of the candidates. I stand by my assertion that they had nothing to offer. However, I do feel sad that I'm somewhat - like everybody else - morphing into a cynical, switched off Muppet that is disconnected from the politics and issues that shape our world.

I want to be a better person. I want to be a better citizen. I want to make my voice heard. I want to vote.


  1. I think the vote is very powerful, should not be wasted or used unwisely. Nice writing.

  2. I agree with you Myne. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Very good write-up as always. I don't live in London but I follow UK politics, watched most of the debates for the mayoral election and it was bereft of issues but full of blame and mudslinging.

    However, I still feel politics is far too important to be left alone to politicians. But saying that, I didn't vote this time around in my local election which was unusual for me, mainly down to the fact I didn't know who the candidates were!

  4. Thanks a lot, Naija4life. That's a good observation. The same applies to French elections - it's personality over matter.

    LOL. You didn't know who the candidates were! It's funny but true about local elections - the politicians aren't very visible are they?

    We all need to wade in to elections and make our vote count.

  5. Enthusiasm at minus 20 degrees celsius? Ha ha! But yes there is the danger of taking for granted that which many countries in Africa like Nigeria are dying for and have barely experienced: a fair unviolent vote.
    So where obtainable without corruption, why not utilize people's sacrifices over time? I have heard some South Africans express disenchatmennt with the political regime presently in place in SA, but I've said to them that apathy will be the aparthied that maintains society's ills.

  6. True talk, Dlaw. We would probably value our franchise to vote a lot more if we had fought long and hard for it. Many thanks for your comment.