Saturday, August 09, 2008

Freedoms and Olympics

Some of you probably know that this December Ghanaians will vote to elect a new President for the country. Most are hoping that this will be Ghana's 3rd presidential term that is peaceful and fair.

It's interesting being here at this time. The country talks politics constantly. Every other commercial is a public service announcement sharing how one can register to vote. And much of the time they have a banner at the bottom of the screen making announcements about voting and registration. Just like in America the candidates have commercials running.

One thing that is very different is that the country is holding "registration exercises" in which those who have turned 18 since the last election, and those that are older than 18 but couldn't registered 4 years ago, can register to vote, and also choose their political party. I believe each registration location is open for 11 days.

Unlike in America, it is obvious that Ghanaians take their freedom to vote very seriously. The lines are very long and people spend many, many hours waiting to register. Actually, I heard of one place where people had come back every day for 7 days and still had not made it to the front of the line! Someone else said that the line for their registration location began at 1am. The turnout is so high that the officials are running out of registration materials. Can you imagine waiting in line for (let's say) 14 hours only to get to the front and be told there was no way for them to register you? Because of this there has been some minor violent outbreaks at registration locations. Another problem is that the desire to vote is so high that many, many minors are trying to register to vote. Just a bit different from our youth in America that often times don't bother to register! One place reported over 500 minors that had tried to register.

We have become so complacent about our freedoms in America, but here the right to vote is still fresh. People appreciate it. People desire it. I really pray that the upcoming election is peaceful and fair. Ghana has come so far.

In other news...the Olympic opening ceremony was today. It wasn't aired here. It is the first night of Olympics and nothing is on TV. I am missing American TV right about now! There was a short blurb on the local news about the opening ceremony but that was it. It doesn't seem to be much of an event here. Nobody talks about it and I doubt any of it will be on TV (unless maybe there is a Ghanaian team playing). So think of me when you get tired of the Olympic coverage in America pre-empting your regular programming!


Anita Gillispie
AAI Ghana Coordinator
Mom to Taevy (7,Cambodia); Samren (6, Vietnam), and Bright (2, Ghana)


Amalama 4:38 PM  

Hey Darlin! You know what- it did air in Ghana (at least part of it), but it was during the day. I had it on while I was packing to go home. They did cut it off not long after the teams all walked in and the speeches began, but they did show a good chunk of it, just not during "prime time." Is there "prime time" in Ghana? Maybe you can catch that new story on the cow's feet or the ambulance/hearse segment? ;)