May 19, 2011, 3:16 pm
Filed under: insight

Yesterday I saw my first election in Africa.

Everyone, was in a good mood, smiling on the streets at strangers. People dress up neatly to vote. The cashier at the grocery store tells us she voted before work from behind thick smudged bright pink lipstick, as though she is reminding us to do the same.

People will stand in line for two or three hours to vote, some lines in other places streched a kilometer. In order to be able to vote, you have to register about a month in advance by going to a station, every election. Grandmothers began lining up in some places at four in the morning, in the cold inland winter. Fathers brought their young sons to stand in line with them. Almost all of the politicians line up amongst the crowd, waiting an hour or two, while women with babies and the elderly are ushered ahead.

Coming from a country where the democratic exercise has seemed farcial for the past few years, where a recent election was more about grumbling apathy than policy, that snaking line is a beautiful thing.


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