Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

The internet went off right after Obama's speech.  I have no idea why.  I wished they (the Obama ppl) would stop playing the Patriot music.  That just added to the tears.  But then, I suppose that's the point.

I'm sure some of the my tears yesterday and today were out of sheer joy, but some of them were out of sadness, too.  I'm not there, in America.  I had thought about flying to Oakland for the election night, and I would have loved to have been dancing in the streets with my friends there.  But, I decided not to go.  And while I did miss the dancing, I didn't miss the election.  I'm just experiencing it in a different way.  A different way that I can share with you.

The Nigerian Papers

I walked down to a newspaper stand this evening to get some of the day's papers.  They were all printed before the results were announced at 5am here, so the headlines just proclaimed that Obama had an early lead.  One paper had an article about lots of errors causing long lines.  I hadn't heard that, mostly just that the high turnout caused long lines.  No offense to The Punch, but I think CNN and BBC are more respectable sources.

There were also a lot of articles trying to make McCain look bad.  One paper's front page read "McCain breaks rule, campaigns on election day."  This pissed me off.  First, there is no rule like that.  Second, Obama was campaigning on election day, too.

One of my favorite articles was an "interview" with a judge on duty at a polling station. (I don't know what that means, but that's what it says.  Sounds like she might be a poll watcher.)  The Nigerian paper, The Vanguard, printed the entire exchange with this judge.  It's basically her just repeatedly telling them that she can't do interviews and they can't talk to the voters until after the voters have voted.  I don't think the "interview" is actually verbatim though because it has the American saying "I hope you would not disrupt the queue out there."  We don't say "queue;" we say "line."

Nigerian papers also comment on things that American papers wouldn't mention, either because they aren't important or aren't proper.  For example, that same Vanguard article: "Andrew Strike, a white, who is the Chief Press Officer, from the State Department said he was...."  Hello!  What he's saying matters because he's the Chief Press Officer.  The color of his skin is irrelevant.  These elections have provided plenty of opportunities for comments where the speakers skin color might be relevant; this is not one of them.  On top of that, 'a white'?!?

Oh, and apparently the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission says the "US has a lot to learn from Nigeria" about elections.  Right.....  I wonder how the guys at the Embassy would feel about that statement.  The The Chairman's reasoning for why we should learn from Nigeria shows a great ignorance about America.  First, he says we need a national voting registry.  Feel free to leave comments on why this is ridiculous.  Second, he says we need to learn how to have elections all in one day, with none of this silly early voting stuff.  So that then he can criticize our long lines?  I happen to think the early voting worked very well.  Anyone have another opinion?  (Article in the Daily Sun.)

We apparently also have one paper with a prophetic writer.  The Daily Independent on November 4th had an article "U.S. on the Verge of History."  The first sentence says "By 5 a.m. local time on Wednesday, history would have been made and the face of world politics and racial relations changed in magnitude more groundbreaking than the fall of the Berlin Wall."  CNN declared Obama the winner at 4:59 a.m. local time.  (The sentence sounds funny to us.  Nigerians use "would" where we use "will."  I have no idea why.

The Nigerian People

They're crying, too.  Dara and Feyi told me they all got up early this morning, about when the results came in, and watched the news.  Auntie and Uncle were crying tears of joy.  Feyi's been running around the house singing "Obama, Obama, Obama."  And Dara told Hammed, one of the family's gate-men, that Obama looks like him.  Hammed laughed, but his face lit up with this huge smile.  But that's part of the magic of all this, isn't it?  That a poor gate-man in Africa can look like the next President of the United States.

People were so excited about the election that massive crowds besieged the satellite dish companies to pay past-due bills.  The company buildings couldn't hold all the people.  There was nearly a riot.

Work sent me an email:

This is to congratulate you on the election of Barak [sic] Obama as the 44th US President of the United States. This gives a new lease of hope for the majority of the human race who are impacted by the events in the world's leading democracy. I commend your compatriots for again showing the dynamics of democracy at this defining moment of your country's history.

And they offered me a celebration on the Commission, which of course I would not accept.  The day off to sleep was all I needed.

Other workers asked for similar arrangements:

Oh! Barack Obama won sir - the black race has made history. Can i have the day
off to celebrate sir.

One comment that made me really happy came from the maid.  She had seen McCain's speech.  "He is a very good man," she said.  She talked about how she really liked his speech, how happy she was that he was now supporting Obama.  She kept telling Dara and Feyi how good McCain is.  She's very excited that Obama won.  She was clapping and dancing when telling me about it.  But, she also appreciates and respects McCain.  I like that, a lot.  I think it shows a lot for how perceptions of the US are changing, not just because of Obama, but because of McCain and many other Americans.

1 comment:

MaryRuth said...

Thanks for all the great posts. It was really neat to get your perspective from so far away. It sure is going to feel good to have respect from the world again, and not feel so ashamed. For the last eight years, I felt dirty and unclean.
McCain's speech was good. He looked the most relaxed and at peace than I had seen during the whole campaign. And he really did look sincere about the things he said.
Happy Days Ahead!