LIKE many others, I stayed up to watch the finale of the 2008 US presidential election.
What struck me most about it was the fact that Americans were free to exercise their democratic right to vote.Â Â
Whichever way they voted, their voice would count by the rights enshrined in the American Constitution.Â I wondered about my own country; Zimbabwe —— the people have the constitutional right to vote but that right is not respected; in the last eight years hundreds of thousands of voters have been intimidated, raped, abducted and killed. When millions participated in the March 2008 general and presidential elections they were kept in suspense for weeks
because “verification” was still in process. Beatings, abductions
and unimaginable cruelty characterised the days leading up to the June 27 election which resulted in another twist in this suspense thriller.
Fast forward to September 2008, a power-sharing deal was brokered in the hope of building a new nation, but today, two months since the “Agreement” the suspense-thriller continues.
We are still being ruled by the
Zanu PF old guard which
pronounces Aluta Continua to the detrimental rhetoric of “sovereignty” and deal a blow to all possibility of change.
But before my very eyes, I bore witness to change in America when Barack Obama was announced winner of the US elections. As Obama delivered an eloquent, heartfelt victory speech, tears welled up in my eyes. This was the moment I could exhale and celebrate after a year of following this race; I could exhale because the optimist they said could not do it, had done it.
America had democratically chosen someone whose intellect and charisma had shown he had the ability to lead, whose policies were geared at making life better for American families across the board and changing the workings of power in a global context.
I thus exhaled because for centuries history’s dominant discourses had forced me to hold air in because of my skin colour; forced like many millions before me who had been stolen or sold then violently shipped and used to build America. But against these centuries of historic asphyxiation people have risen up in defiance; risen against intimidation to say, “Yes we can”.
When will the fathers of our nation realise they have become too
old to rule and pass on the torch of leadership to a younger generation whose dreams of freedom and democracy are currently stifled as the country operates in political suspend-mode?