By Field Ruwe EdD
On August 12, the few steps you will make in your walk from the polling booth entrance to the ballot box will bring you to the precipice—the edge of the cliff. You either make the dangerous leap into the yawning abyss, or you build yourself a bridge and cross from pain to change. Building the bridge lies in the brain, and crossing the bridge is an act of wisdom. Wisdom is the quality of having good judgment. Good judgment is not relying on what you hear or see but on your heart.
When you enter the polling booth and come before the ballot box, you will be standing in silence, far from the cacophony of political voices. It is here your heart will make the right choice for you. Here you shall not be pushed by the fears in your mind but shall be led by the dreams in your heart.
Think for a moment; since you became eligible to vote, you have been wired to think the man with a sweet tongue is your kind of leader. You have depended on his honeyed words and envisioned the future as bright as his promises. But each time you wake up, you realize the man of your choice has made your problems worse. You have discovered he is not trying to solve your problems; he’s trying to solve his. For six years, he has concentrated on his life and left you to the vultures.
Yes, for six years, you have felt as if you have been left in the Sahara Desert to die and have waited eagerly for the vultures to turn your agony into prey and end your misery. Yet, your strong heart has never ceased to beat. Your heart has always been there for you. This year, more than any other, put your heart on the ballot. The fate of your heart must be your choice, and no one else must get your vote. Standing there before the ballot box, you must finally let go of your naivety and follow what your heart tells you.
On the eve of the election, put your head on the pillow and spend a moment with your heart. Dedicate your thoughts to everything you have given and done the past six years. Bear in mind that life reflects what you think and do and not what others think and do for you. If the thoughts are not yours, the future is not yours. When you think about what you have given to the man you chose six years ago, you’ll see he has betrayed you. How?
With your head still on the pillow, close your eyes and flashback to inauguration day 2016. Let the words of the man you chose to fill your mind:
Countrymen and women! We must begin to strengthen the Zambian economy by making the transaction in the Zambian Kwacha a reality…engaging in corruption cannot be a substitute to the pride that comes from personal effort and determination to achieve prosperity. The youths need education and skills; they need a proper health care system…for this to happen, I pledge that my administration will not leave anyone behind. Prosperity for all cannot be achieved in an acrimonious environment…without peace, there can be no stability in the nation…I will be appointing an inquiry to establish the cause and perpetrators of the post-election violence so that the nation can learn from such mistakes. I want to lead a green revolution that must culminate in sustainable national food security from individual actions of each one of us.
By now, you are accustomed to the above fundamental ideas that turn out to be damned, heartless empty promises. To prove the above illusory pledges have been a fluke the past five years, ask yourself only one question: Have I fulfilled my full potential, or am I carrying Zambia on my back instead of her carrying me on hers? You already know how bad the economy is. So don’t fall for the present semantics of a sudden strong Kwacha.” It is one fashion of cruelty you can do without. Also, think about the mortal enemy—corruption. When was it as bad as it has been the past six years?
Then, think about your children—the pedestal on which you stand high. Have they achieved what the person you chose promised? Bear in mind, to be in your children’s memories tomorrow; you’ll have to educate them today. It is the greatest gift you can give them. Are you sure you have done that? If they are educated, do they have jobs?
While in the same stance, allow your mind to linger over some of the worst moments and actions of the past six years—tribalism and its divisiveness. Is it not that the loudest voices you have heard the past six years are from those in the incumbent party advocating tribalism? Has it ever been this worse? How about load shedding and its persistent, irregular, and unpredictable frustrations? Who caused the power shortage? Think about conflict and the genocide act of gassing that claimed the lives of 43 innocent Zambians. Who was behind such heinous acts?
You can now open your eyes and realize. Use the ballot box to answer all the questions raised here. The brief “head on the pillow” experience has given you enough proof that the man you chose has taken advantage of your generosity, and he knows he can do it again. If you vote for him, he will simply read the same speech and put it back on his shelf.
On Election Day, vote like your life depends on it. Let your thoughts reflect your hopes and not his. You have the power to right the wrong. In the ballot box, think about no one but you. Remember that real change, enduring change, does not happen at State House or in parliament; it happens in the ballot box before you.
This year, more than any other, it is you on the ballot. Vote for yourself. There will be no one in the booth to stop you. Listen to your inner voice and cast a vote for you. In voting for yourself, think of affordable education for your children and their peers. You usually deposit money in your bank account. When you deposit your ballot in the box, you will be depositing it in your child’s bank account, and the best interest you will be earning will be your child’s bright future.
Keep in mind, the cost of not following your heart is always dear. Step out of the voting booth knowing you have voted for yourself and the future of this republic for the first time. From the opposition, see who your heart agrees with—Hakainde Hichilema, Trevor Mwamba, and others. Americans say, “Don’t burn your behind and continue sitting on blisters.”