Saturday, April 05, 2008

And on the Eighth Day…

We waited.

A week ago today, the citizens of Zimbabwe went to the polls. They emerged proudly displaying their pinkie fingers, stained pink from the ink used to mark their votes. Excited whispers of change wafted on the air like errant plastic bags, shreds of new information were panned like gold, and I saw – for the first time in my three years here – a flicker of hope on the faces of people in the street.


Now, a week has past. The ink has disappeared. And so has the flicker of hope. As the delay in the release of Presidential results continues and the political posturing takes a hard-line turn, a veil of resignation has again descended and I can almost tangibly feel people looking inside themselves, trying to determine how they are possibly going to dig a deeper well of patience.

What is going to happen?

The election has been on the front few pages of international newspapers this past week. At first, articles could follow a simple narrative – the possibility of a dramatic opposition party victory despite reports of vote-rigging, followed by mounting concern over delays in announcing the results, rising tensions, and the specter of Kenya-style violence. But, I fear, the story is no longer fitting the sound-bite style of the American press. It is dragging on too long, becoming too convoluted. How do you explain the point we are at today? STILL no Presidential results announced, when it is clear they must be known? The new possibility of a run-off in 90 days instead of the three weeks stated in electoral law? The ruling party accusing the opposition of bribing electoral officials; the opposition party going to court to demand that Presidential election results be released? We are used to craziness here (case in point: the Reserve Bank introduced a 50 million dollar note yesterday). But how do you continue to explain all this to someone outside the country?

Is there a strategy at play? Delaying, stalling, confounding until the short attention span of the West loses interest? And what will happen then, when fewer eyes are watching?

I’ve got three new posts half-written – one about a relative of the peanut native to Africa called the Bambara groundnut; another on a recipe for homemade graham crackers, culled from a circa-1980s African missionary cookbook; a third on Ethiopian-style cabbage and lentil salad. This all seems so silly. The posts will wait. For now, my mind is elsewhere, trapped in the maze of this saga’s twists and turns, and dreaming for that flicker of hope to reignite.

In addition to the coverage on BBC and Sky News, you can keep up-to-date on election news by checking these sites:

Sokwanele, and its related blog – This is Zimbabwe
Kubatana’s blog
SWRadio Africa

5 comments:

oconnormoreen said...

Thanks C. For the update... We will dream with you.

Ali la Loca said...

We are following the election results (or lack thereof) with bated breath here in Maputo.

I maintain hope that it is still possible to get good news...

Jeanne said...

Oh Carolyn, it's been too hearbreaking to read how the tone of the reports has changed from cautious optimism to the current uneasy waiting for the hammer to fall. Earlier last week there was a piece in my local paper where Zimbabweans in POrt Elizabeth were interviewed and almost all of them said they would want to go home if there were a change of government. I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for Mugabe, for all the suffering he has put his own people through. You have been in my thoughts all week and will continue to be so.

Anna said...

you're so right! it's terrible. only a few weeks has past since you wrote this post and there's no mention of the election in any australian media: print, radio or tv!
for a week or two it was headline news and now we've all forgotten.
it's bloody awful.

zimbobaby said...

Carolyn,

I hope you are still around. Your blog is inspirational while all around us is going crazy. Despite what is happening, I continue to visit looking for a new post.

let's keep strong