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In an unexpected trip to Home Affairs ahead of Election Day, a strange and inspiring sense of hope emerged in the most unlikely place:

 

South Africa (28 May 2024) — In South Africa, visiting Home Affairs is a lot like visiting a relative you aren’t particularly fond of but are obliged to visit every so often. You always think you’re prepared for the encounter. Yet when you’re there, you find yourself biting your tongue, counting down the time and wondering if there isn’t anything you could do to get yourself out of it; not unlike a movie you’ve seen a million times, but you still hope Jack doesn’t die in the end.

Like many other South Africans, I found myself at Home Affairs recently. I should premise that I had never visited the Affairs so close to the elections before, and so the experience was unlike any of my other previous visits for two reasons: there were a lot more people, and there was a lot more havoc (the system went down, multiple times, because there were more people getting their temporary IDs), writes Good Things Guy’s Ashleigh Nefdt.

In the lifetime I was there, I watched as people from all walks of life were humbled by the powers that be. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, what you’ve achieved or where you come from (though there are always those who try to jimmy the system with a fancy suit). In the eyes of Home Affairs, you are just another citizen. Just another South African, united almost wholeheartedly on one thing: isn’t there a more efficient way to do all this?

I had a lot of time to think in the many queues I found myself in. And as others began to share their thoughts aloud, paying attention became a most-riveting moment of something to do.

Yes, there were those threatening to leave the country. And those who simply gave up and left. But the majority stuck around, and began sharing ideas on how to make things better—much like our larger South Africa. “What if we had a system that worked like this…” or “maybe someone could create an app that stores all your documents in one place” and “if the workers had more incentives then…”. They were not complaining (entirely). They were looking at solutions. Brilliant, citizen-driven plans of action.

It wasn’t the usual ‘this is how things are’ rhetoric. It was something bigger. It was hope.

Yes, a place like Home Affairs can do a lot to your feet and spirit. But that day, it also incited a spark of hope. The kind that drives you to never want to feel your spirit diminished again.

It was both a reminder of why we need to be active citizens, and a reminder of what happens when we do not voice ourselves loudly enough. A reminder of what could be possible when we value our opinions more, and a reminder that we owe it to each other in that queue, to do so.  A reminder why showing up on voting day matters as much as showing up afterwards as an active citizen, involved in the political process and holding the people in charge accountable, does. A reminder that the system might be down, but the people are not.


Sources: GTG 
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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