Vote not only a right but a continuation of struggle

Finally, the elections have come and gone.

Finally, the elections have come and gone.

As a first-time voter it was all insignificant and not important until I got to the voting station and took my position inside the cubicle with my two provincial and national ballot papers.

I almost panicked when I discovered I did not have a pen but realised I did not need one since one was provided. I did not want to get anything wrong. This vote could change my life.

So I unfold the first ballot paper and make my mark. Unfolding the second ballot paper I have a smile on my face, thinking, now I have the hang of this, all that power in my hand to choose "the one".

I wanted to stay longer but had to move on for the next person. So I throw my ballots in the box provided and walk away feeling liberated. I would have kicked myself had I let this experience pass me by.

As I walk home I remember the main reason I had to vote.

I lived in the township with both my parents, and at the time my home was a shebeen, the place to be, at least I thought so.

My father played shebeen king, dispensing liquor, using his home to play the music of Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semenya and Jonas Gwangwa among many others.

But that was not the real reason these men came around so often.

Apparently these were secret meetings that they would disguise so as not to get in trouble with the law. This is where the planning of protests and the fight for freedom were held.

On other days would be silent strangers roaming around our yard when no one was around, and they never interacted with the family.

These men were apparently liberation army soldiers on the run from the apartheid police.

The revelry at my house was only disguise to fool the law enforcers.

Just recently my mother told me: "I wonder why you kids never looked under your beds?" That's where my father apparently kept their weapons.

As far as I recall, I remember my father having a thick wooden rod that he kept close enough to grab when he needed to, but, never saw him with a gun or knife. Though times were tough and battles between hostel dwellers and township residents at their peak, my father was always peaceful and never resorted to violence. His friends, however, all carried guns, I am sure of that.

So there is one political party my father has worked and lived for and that is the same party I believe in.

For all the effort these men had taken, I owed them the effort of waking up early on election-day and doing my duty by voting.

Besides the fact that I was doing this because my father wanted me to, imagine at the age of four living in a home that could be raided in the middle of the night and have your parents taken away to prison, probably never to return.

My vote was not only my voice but it was my contribution to the struggle that my elders had endured.