Sunday, September 25, 2011

An election and a sick day

I’ve been waiting for the election results to be in to do an entry on my classes visit to the polling station at the river, and then I was nauseous to the point of not being able to function yesterday afternoon, so I’m finally getting around to writing. I’m still a little queasy, but I’m hoping another good night’s rest will set me right. There is a lot of sickness going around right now, and a couple other staff members are feeling a little off as well. Too bad the kids can’t just go home so we can get better in peace!

Last Tuesday was election day here in Zambia, and I took my class down to see how things are done. Sakeji is a polling station, so there were two ‘streams’ set up down at our two chotas at the river. We were able to go right into the chotas and see up close how the process worked. A few weeks back, they had voters registration, so there were booklets with photos and information on all the registered voters. They were in full color, so they must have cost a fortune! After a voter was found on the list, they went to the second desk to get their first ballot. There were three separate ballots for the three different levels of government—presidential, parliamentary, and local government. Each ballot was again in full color, and had pictures of each of the candidates. Apparently there were 10 presidential candidates! After filling out the first ballot in the little booth, the voter would file it in the appropriate sealed plastic container. Then they would go back for the next ballot, file it, and finally go back for the third.

The counting started that evening, and went on into the next day. The cell network was actually turned off for awhile during this process as people were spreading false information around. There were riots on the Copper Belt when it looked like Banda would be re-elected, but eventually it was announced that Sata had won. Then there were riots in the many other places that didn’t want him in. It was very peaceful up here, though the people of this area are not happy about Sata getting in. Apparently, there was some rigging of the votes to get Sata in—to the point where they can’t even recount them. This is not all that surprising, but rather sad. Sata is very anti-foreign investment, so it will be very interesting to see what he does while in office. He claims he wants to get ride of the Chinese on the Copper Belt, and if he actually does start deporting people, it makes you wonder where the missionaries will be. Of course the other big question is where the country will be without foreign investment, and how long it will take all the good accomplished by these people to crumble away. Clearly, Zambia needs our prayers in these interesting days.

There have been several days when it looked like it might rain, but even yesterday’s wind and dark masses of clouds only produced a little spatter. Apparently it poured at Kalene for about 10 minutes though. I’m looking forward to our first real good soaking of the season. I know I’ll get tired of the constant rain before dry season rolls around again, but the first rain of the year is always an exciting event. Things are already greening up here—I don’t know where the plants are finding the moisture! The flamboyants are just starting to come into bloom, and the jacarandas are in their full glory. The end of dry season makes up for the barren brown of the rest of it!

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