Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I do not love elections at all

It’s December 10, two weeks and one day away from Christmas, and the only Christmas decorations I’ve seen were in Accra’s only shopping mall. Other than that, nothing. What? Where’s Christmas?

“It’s because of the elections,” Sister Juliana explained. “Once the elections are over, you’ll see more decorations up, but for now, all everyone can think about is the elections.”

Elections were December 7th. They went very well... that is, there wasn’t any violence or problems. After the polls closed, the electoral commission started counting. Citizens throughout the country stayed up late into the night, eagerly listening to the results on the radio. The numbers trickled in, little by little, so little, in fact, that I really thought they were announcing each individual polling station.

From the Odotobri constituency, NPP 178, CPP 31, NPC 13, NDC 142, DFP 2, DPP 2, Independent 0

Etc. Over and over and over again. The same three-letter parties, followed by slightly different numbers. I spent election day with Fred, and when he drove me home, I noticed that the streets were empty. We could see people gathered in store fronts huddled around radio sets, anxiously listening to the early results.

“Well? What happened?” I asked the next morning at breakfast. Still counting. I asked again at dinner, and at breakfast the next morning, and at dinner the next night. Same answer. Still counting. Still listening to them announcing the results for all eight candidates in the same, monotone voice. You wouldn’t believe how boring it is.

When they still hadn’t announced the winner this morning, I gave up. “They’ll never finish counting! They’re tricking us. Ghana will never have a new president!” I said in despair.

“They’re announcing it today at 2,” Mr. Sackey said when I found him in the computer room, searching the election news on the internet as though it hasn’t been all everyone’s talked about for the past few months.

I was in the dining room at 1:59, finishing up my lunch. Someone was watching The Last Holiday, and at 2PM, the TV station took a break to go to the news. It was finally 2PM, but STILL no results. AH!

At the school’s closing, I found some of the teachers gathered in the headmistress’s office, talking about (what else?) the election.

“Have they announced the results? Do you have a new president?” I asked.

“They’ve announced the results,” Sister Juliana said, “but we don’t have a president yet. It wasn’t one touch.”

Apparently, NPP had 49.14% of the vote. Because it wasn’t 50%, the majority, because of that ridiculous 0.86% of the vote, they have to cast their votes again. This time, it will be between NPP and NDC, which had 47.something% of the vote.

“The new election day is on December 28th. So it looks like Ghana won’t really celebrate Christmas this year. Sorry.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I silently screamed. (Actually, that’s the edited, family-friendly version of the four-letter word I screamed in my head when learning that the country in which I’m currently living is essentially CANCELING Christmas because of the damn elections!)

We were supposed to travel on December 27th to the north for a big Christmas celebration in Sunyani. I had hoped to use this time to go to a game park and see an elephant. Now, because of politics, we might not go anymore. Freaking elections are ruining not only Christmas but also possibly my chances of seeing an elephant in the wild.

Why December 28? Why couldn’t they have had the elections much earlier, in October or November, or later, in late January? Why do they have to have it at Christmastime? I’d much rather see Christmas love on TV than more campaigns! The only reason I can think of is that Ghana must love Jesus as much as I love elections... that is, not at all.

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