Friday, September 23, 2011

African Democracy

I thought democracy in America was exciting. This is my second election in Zambia. The first one was under extremely unfortunate circumstances after President Mwanawasa unexpectedly passed away. The country was in shock and mourning. I was in the village. There was nothing exceptional about the election. People voted. We sat around the radio listening to results as they came in district by district. And with no surprise the VP who was acting President was elected. It was not the right time for change.

The sign of Patriotic Front and Presidential winner Michael Sata.
Not this year. People wanted change this year. Over the past year I heard people saying violence might be the only answer to bring about change. Then we had the Arab Spring. Between a motivated youth, violence and rioting change seemed possible but not how Zambia normally experienced it. People were nervous about this election. "This year things are different." But Zambian nature prevailed and held close to the peace that has blessed this nation since independence. There were a few minor riots with sensational photos of a burning minibus. People were feeling tense not knowing what the results were. The electoral commission was only allowing verified results to be announced. At 12:45 am this morning Sata was declared the new President of Zambia. After 20 years of the MMD party controlling the presidency people were ready for a new party. Graciously, wisely, and respectfully the former President Rupia Banda acknowledged the results of a free and fair democratic election. Being a graceful looser is so much more noble than being a winner. Thank you President Banda for your blessing and encouragement to keep peace within the MOST peaceful Southern African Nation.

People are celebrating like it is Independence all over again. I can imagine what the scene was like in 1964 based on what I have seen today. People are appreciating the value of democracy and what a united voice can do for a nation. The people called for change and change came. People are happy. They are celebrating and have been celebrating since 1:00 am and still going strong. My office is on one of the main roads from where votes were being tabulated direct to state house. The streets are filled with chanting "don't ukubeba" (take what you can from Banda but tell who you are really voting for), honking, singing and dancing. It is a true honor that the people of Zambia are happy to share this moment and let me watch from the office drive way and take photos of their nation's success in democracy.


  1. So awesome!!! Wish I was there! Thank you for posting this and keeping us up to date with the jubilation! I'm going to celebrate solo in the states with my box of chibuku I've been hording for such an occasion!

  2. I wish you were here too! Enjoy the chibuku. Sata was just sworn in. We are now officially under PF leadership.