Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The U.S. Presidential Elections
"Congratulashu', Misteh Reese!"
I want to take a break from my normally scheduled blog post to tell you a bit of what is happening around us this US Election day + one.
We were among the last to know in our neighborhood. By the time we woke up at 6:00am GMT, not only had the polls closed on the US West Coast, but apparently everyone saw it coming as polls closed across the States. Many of our neigbhors stayed awake all night, clustered together in the few homes and video shops that have TV. Across Africa, and around the world, BBC reported an explosion of excitment over the election of Barack Obama.
In Liberia, its the same, and its remarkable. When I made a visit at 9:00am to a local market and this internet cafe', I was greeted with congratulations-- thats right, congratulations-- when I got out of the car. A guy standing with his smiling buddies yelled at me from across the street, "Congratulashu, Misteh Reese!"-- and I knew instantly what he was talking about. In the internet cafe, I was greeted with the sound of Obama's victory speech the owner was replaying on UTube. A guy was walking around with a huge Obama face on his t-shirt. Another shook my hand. It seems like everyone is listening to BBC Africa, and BBC Africa is telling the story of parties and positive demonstrations in many places.
As for me, being 5000 miles away, I was not able to particpate the way I normally do in an election season. I felt a bit left out by that. But it was tremendously moving to see the process unfold from this West African persective, and to see how much this country-- this continent--looks to the US as a source of hope. Africa and Liberia have not given up on us yet. I think that's a good thing, even though there remains a cynical side to me when it comes to trusting in nations.
What I will most remember about today, is that although I lamented the fact that I could not participate in the American Experiment in the way I would like, my Liberian friends made me feel proud to be a US citizen. It was fun to join in as their nation celebrated our national moment.