Happy Halloween-or evil Free Mason day as my homestay family described it when I told them about this American tradition. Besides all the candy I'm missing out today back at home, today is Tanzanian election day! After yesterday's parade of Chadema voters, I think everyone in Arusha is amped for change! My concerns about there being chaos in the streets shouldn't be an issue--one rule that will be enforced today is that after all voting everyone must return immediately to their homes. I noticed yesterday that many shops had signs reading that today they would be closed or only open in the afternoon after voting takes place.
This morning I again woke to loud Kikwete choir singing--seriously never in America would you hear a choir singing a song about Obama. I got ready for mass and decided I'd take a dala this week instead of attempting to navigate that shortcut Irene showed me last week. There were a significant number of people missing from mass today. I know that in Tanzania, one registers in the district in which they were born. So if you live in Arusha but you were born in Dodoma--you have to go to Dodoma to vote. So, perhaps some people were away in villages, etc. At the close of the mass, the priest made an announcement for everyone if they have not done so, to go vote. Then he said something I don't think a priest in America would ever say--'The country is corrupt, if you want to change it, now is the time." And with that, the church sang the Tanzanian national anthem. It was one of the most beautiful sounds I've heard here so far, and very moving.
That afternoon, I went right back home to Mama Mary's house, in fear of what the State Department warned--and partly because there was absolutely nothing to do in town. It was awful, 4 hours and I was so bored. Mama Mary was working at the polls since 6 a.m. and there was no lunch in the house. This was really nothing like election day in America. That night, we were eating at the dinner table when Mama Mary returned and announced that Chadema had won most of the votes in this part of Arusha. The girls were jumping on chairs and tables dancing and shouting. Everyone was hugging each other as I sat, still eating confused and not knowing what this even meant--I'm not a pessimist, but Chadema could technically still lose the other, bigger parts of town. Little Dorcas, who is 12 made flags at school for each CCM and Chadema announced that the Chadema flag would hang outside of the house, while she'd flush the CCM one down the choo (toilet). That night, everyone gathered around the television to hear reports of any incidents surrounding the elections, and the whole was in a really jovial mood. I played cards with the girls and taught them how to play go fish.
Tomorrow we'd await the results of the election and by at least Wednesday we'd hear the inevitable news that is that Kikwete is elected for yet another term. This is my last week in Tanzania!! I can't believe its come by so quickly. And besides souvenier shopping there is a lot of photograpy (and safari!!) I've yet to do. If only my days weren't going to be used by going back to Montessori.