By Roseline Souebele
Before colonization, Africans did not use the word “democracy,” but the continent contained many of the greatest civilizations that ever existed in the world. The European invasion destroyed everything through colonization and slavery. They came with the idea that they needed to civilize Africa. And they also claimed that democracy would bring order and discipline and the sharing of power. But was this story real, or a fairy tale?
In my country, the Republic of Congo, if we say power and elections today are in the hands of the people, it would have to be said ironically. I wish it was, but just hearing the word “election” raises tension in the hearts and souls of people in my country, as well as many others in Africa. Elections are a source of fear and trouble, with corruption, lies, and falsification on both sides.
In my whole life, I have voted only once, not because I didn’t want to, but because that was the only time I was allowed to. I lived under a disguised dictatorship for more than 30 years and was part of the young generation that was thirsty for change. I was very proud to be able to finally vote and have my voice count.
I still remember two weeks after I gave birth to my first daughter, still in pain from the delivery, I walked to the polls – although the results were, as always, predictable – we needed to believe in the dawning of a new day. Unfortunately, when the results came in, we were already living as refugees, with our region destroyed. Our fear imprisoned us so that we did not challenge the election results. Many innocents have died in my country due to police abuse, motivated by the politics of corruption and captivity.
Speaking the word “elections” in many African countries is like speaking the name of the devil. Anxiety and depression rise up in the population from the very first days of any campaign. However, there is hope for a better future. More young people are studying politics and law, and leadership and management. Hopefully, these youth will rise up and save the country, and the continent, if only we can be free from the influence of big and powerful countries in the world.
Roseline, former Hope House resident, now lives independently in Portland, works as a Certified Nursing Assistant and as an interpreter at the House of Languages, and is a nursing student at Southern Maine Community College