It has been instilled into my psyche that I must vote. I guess my upbringing has a lot to do with that. My Nigerian parents immigrated to the UK in the 60s when people wouldn’t blink an eyelid at casual racism. On top of that, the women in my family have been my biggest inspirations, as well as the women I have been lucky enough to call close friends. They are starting businesses left, right and centre and are in control of the direction they want their lives to go. I will never take these things for granted. Things that if I had been born in different circumstances, I would not be able to do today.
I have been hobbling around unable to work for the last 7 months due a broken leg. The NHS has been taking care of me, for which I am very grateful. In my 7 months I tried my best to learn more about the difficulties people face in the world and how they relate to me and the life I am able to lead. I have done free online courses (www.futurelearn.com/) and read a few books about Nigeria, my country of heritage (http://www.theguardian.com/books).
It seems so many things are intertwined. If anyone managed to catch the amazing BBC documentary series on the Suffragettes (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes), I hope it enthused you to vote and also appreciate and understand how recently we have been able to do what in the past was only for a privileged few. Our one vote will not change the world there and then but at the very least it’s a slap in the face of the people that would have never believed someone like me would get the vote. At the very least it is that. It reminds me that although change is often slow and always faced with resistance, it happens and is happening.
I was in Manchester last week for an interview to work for a charity that brings teenagers from different walks of life together. In Manchester I visited the People’s History Museum (www.phm.org.uk/), which I would recommend to anyone in that neck of the woods. The exhibitions were elaborate, interactive, visually stimulating and once again, I was spurred on to vote. Democracy is not a gift. People the world over have fought for it. A cohesive society in which people aim to learn about each other instead to vilify and stereotype others through sheer ignorance and bigotry is something I want, so I will hobble over to the polling station tomorrow with a wry smile on my face.