We have just witnessed presidential elections in a foreign country. Why is that so remarkable? Because Debra & I are used to witnessing other countries’ elections from within the US and not in the actual country. We are used to being in the US for their elections. The contrast is huge! This article is written to show some humor in a process that we all take very seriously.
The purpose of this article is not to side with any one candidate here in Uganda or in the US. It is to communicate to our family and friends in the US the difference in how the campaign season differs from what you all will be going through leading up to the November 4th elections. I have to admit, I was laughing before we left that you poor souls have to endure the campaign in America that we will have the luxury of missing! But we do have access to news feeds back home to see how it all pans out. The benefit we have here in Uganda is that we didn’t need to wait until November 4th. Upon arriving in January, there was a large difference here than in August when I was here: The campaign season was in full swing. I was surprised at the differences.
AMERICA: You know the drill. You will get bombarded by cardboard picture thingys in your mailbox all year long. You will get 5 from the SAME candidate in ONE week because they are certain that they need to remind EVERY SINGLE day that they exist! Then you have the ridiculous onslaught of campaign ads being fired out of your TV at the velocity of bullets from an AK47! And the SAME ad appears 10 times in the SAME half hour on the SAME channel as if they have to remind you that they want your vote. Then you have your news stations who have their own “balanced” (translated biased) broadcast. You have to discontinue watching them during the season because apparently there is NO other news to report!!
Ah yes, the wonders and joys of the American election season!! We are indebted to you back in the sates for “takin one for the team” and enduring on our behalf. Someday you can call in a solid “You owe me.” Sorry for rubbing it in from across the ocean. I guess I won’t be on your Christmas list.
UGANDA: BUT, here in Uganda, they have a “slightly” (vastly) different way of getting out the vote. There are several pictures below to highlight my descriptions. Imagine this happening in America:
Imagine a major 2 way street suddenly becoming 1 way as you are crowded off on the shoulder as motorcycle riders come at you in droves weaving all over along with huge trucks filled with 30-40 people in each with megaphones blaring loud music and yelling for their candidate. In America, that wouldn’t be tolerated. people would get arrested for among other things:
Endangering the public, disturbing the peace and violating endless traffic laws! Here in Uganda? Just another NORMAL day!! We got stuck in one coming to Ft Portal through a town. Thankfully we were going the same direction or we could have been there for hours. Ugandans have a passion about elections that is unlike anything I have seen. People do get involved in the process.
Instead of your mail boxes being filled up, how about driving down the street and seeing your candidate’s poster on buildings; both abandoned and occupied, on power poles and dead center in the middle island of every roundabout? Oh, and they use the same poster 20-30 times all in the same location. I have only seen ONE picture of the current president and one for each other candidate.
Imagine looking at your local TV station’s website and the existing president of Uganda is advertising on that site for your vote! Yay 7News Denver! I didn’t know they supported the Ugandan president! He is the only candidate I saw on my news feed though. Hmmm.
Imagine on election day in USA that you can’t access social media. Facebook, Twitter, all messengers blocked. We were cut off from your posts for a time about cute critters doing weird things (my fav), meme pics of the US prez candidates and pics of what you had for dinner (you know who you are!). But bless the BBC who posted on their website how you could get around it and it worked!
We were depending on the BBC and other Ugandan news outlets to tell us what is going on as we conduct business in Ft Portal with the ministry. We were grateful for not having to leave Uganda for the elections as were first advised. Ft Portal has been very peaceful and were even able to be out on election day. Most of the unrest has been in Kampala. We hope to travel back there tomorrow. That’s a small taste of what elections are like here.
We will be heading back to Kampala tomorrow. With the elections over, things are returning to normal for the most part. The bright spot has been that we had the opportunity to get a lot of work done.
All that being said, hopefully this article won’t be detected and read as I post it and that they don’t come and……………. OH darn!