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Vox Populi, Vox Dei: In the next few days, we will learn the outcome of the voice of the people

Kizito Okechukwu

Kizito Okechukwu | May 31, 2024

Yesterday, millions of South Africans exercised their democratic rights by voting in the national and provincial elections. Thirty years since the end of Apartheid, this seventh election is a great manifestation of the healthy democracy that citizens enjoy in South Africa.

I still argue that the country has one of the best democracies on the continent, which features an engaging citizenry, active civil society, a working legal framework and, in most cases, a system and processes that are respected if one looks at the professionalism of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) over the past few months.

About 21 years ago, I did my diploma in Latin Language, affiliated to the Urban University in Rome. I recall that in school we had to reach some consensus with members of the class on certain extramural activities and, in the cases where we could not reach a consensus, our view was that the majority vote should prevail, which we always termed as Vox Populi, Vox Dei – simply meaning ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God’.

For some of us that enjoy one activity more than another, it becomes troublesome for us to understand why the majority will choose a music practice activity over a soccer practice, or why some would choose to be sleeping instead of a great outing/excursion day.

But like they say, the voice of the people is the voice of God. At some point, some of my classmates, who were seen as influential, either because of the wealth of their parents, a prefect in school or because of their oratorian/intellectual skills, would sometimes influence the outcome of certain decisions. In this case, the voice of the influencers becomes the voice of God.

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is an old proverb, which was expressed in a letter from Alcuin of York to Charlemagne in 798 CE. Many publications cited his quotation as follows: “Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit”, which translates as follows, “And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness”.

Many have argued that nature is the voice of reason and consciousness, and can communicate better without external influences than humans. It’s now been extensively argued that the voice of nature is the voice of God. Our teacher would always say that to understand nature, it’s pretty straightforward, it’s about when we open our eyes what do we see, what can we smell, what do we hear and what do we sense and touch? So what does this really mean?

In my opinion, it means the voice of nature also wants the people we see each day to have jobs, be productive and live and thrive in a crime-free environment. The voice of nature wants us to see and savour the beautiful picturesque outdoors with trees, mountains and oceans free of pollution. The voice of nature wants us not to see and smell hazardous sewage and the voice of nature imagines a world in which where we all pull together for the common good of all.

In the next few days, we will learn the outcome of the voice of the people. No matter the direction this voice takes us, it is important to bear in mind that the voice of nature reigns supreme. A voice where entrepreneurship, innovation, quality service delivery, unlimited opportunities and a great future for the next generation.

In ending I will say Vox Naturae, Vox Dei – the voice of nature is the voice of God.

Kizito Okechukwu is the Executive Head of 22 On Sloane; and co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa.


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