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Vus
VUS.ISM: WAITING FOR JESUS
10H16 FRIDAY, 09 MAY 2014
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It’s election day and I’m at my mom’s house. Growing up I’ve always viewed politics from hers and my father’s eye. On the one side, my father vilified politics. He didn’t have a problem with the concept of politics as such, he just believed that politicians were the lowest breed of human beings. He believed in honour, integrity and sacrifice. He was prepared to follow anyone who embodied these qualities. “Politics are very dirty”, he used to say, in disgust.

I’m sitting with my mom in the lounge and I catch a glimpse of my father’s black and white portrait in the room divider. It’s one of those old school photos with him sitting on chair, holding a book, decked out in a 3 piece suit, all full of himself.

My mom is 75yrs old now and my pops has been gone for 6yrs. She's seen South Africa in its darkest hours. From being born on a farm to receiving minimal education, having her children imprisoned for political activity, right through to having to hide under train benches on her way to work as bullets flew through windows and people were thrown off moving trains during the pre  ‘94 violence. I cannot imagine how it felt, waking up, getting dressed, going to work and knowing that there's high probability that you might not return. I remember how cut up she would be when she would come back, late, from work to hear that we had been teargassed on our way from primary school.

She is part of that generation for whom ANC was not a political party; it was the very essence of being a black South African, the epitome of black pride. The movement was engraved on the fibre of her spirit. It was not a trend or something to be part of for lack of alternatives, the ANC was the difference between life and death, living and dying.

Today, on the day of voting, she sits, still undecided about whether to even vote or not. For her and her generation, there really is no other alternative; the ANC is all she knows. Yet, she feels defeated and betrayed. She is disgusted by the current leadership. Above all else, she is angered by the condescending complacency. Nauseated by the greed and most especially the treatment of the underprivileged as idiots. How the plight of the poor is being used against them for cheap politicking, for her this is not even humane. The ignorance that is afforded by poverty is not something to triffle with. ”They are treating us like we are children”, she always says during the news.

My mother knows the ANC far better than I do. She has seen many party presidents come and go. Born in the 1930s, she knows this country and the brutality of apartheid better than I do, she lived throughout its entirety. She knows what it took to get here, through personal experience and sacrifice. Above all she knows what is right and what is wrong. She knows when men have lost their grounding.

As a black African woman, she understands the concept of a woman staying  with an abusive partner when that abuser is also the provider. This, she believes, is how it’s like to be a voter in  SA. She was raised with the teachings of “holding on” for the sake of…whatever. For her and women of her generation, strength and “hold on” runs in their DNA. They carry sacrifice on their back, wrapped in loyalty and they never bend their spines. As a feminist, she also knows that the time for such sacrifice is gone. She believes that no one should put up with abuse for the sake of a roof overhead. As Christian, the references to ruling “till Jesus comes back” are saliva in the face of God himself. It is an insult that is totally unnecessary where politics are only for the few and God is for all. “Then Jesus, must come back then”, she once said.

I ask her what time she’s going to vote. I can tell that that question pains her. It weighs heavily on her. For many of her age, they will not live to see another election. So, after all that they had been through, is this how one goes out? She takes a deep sigh. She shakes her head. “Ke tla bona”(I’ll see), she says.

So we sit, waiting... for Jesus…

Later that evening, my mother went to go vote. When she came back, I asked her who she voted for. "Who else?", she replied, with a broad smile.

 Words & Illustration: Vus (@JustVus)

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