This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Finally - A New Zambian President 2015

January 20, 2015 finally arrived and it was a national holiday and election day in Zambia.
The biggest problem is that we woke up to a big rain storm and it made it difficult for the five million potential voters to get to the polling stations.

The eleven candidates provided a menu that should satisfy any voter.

Everyone expected that the tally would come in soon after the polls closed at 6 PM.  That was probably optimistic and those in charge were expecting about twenty four hours of work to get the final count.

The biggest problem was the rain and there were fifty one constituencies that didn't have ballots yet.
It was reported that some were delivered by ox cart because of the muddy roads.  Once they had the ballots, they were given a full twenty four hours to vote.  The air force stepped in and helped gather the results and brought them back to Lusaka.  The election "central" was in the Mulungushi Conference Centre where many of the main events in town take place.

Justice Mambilima had a very tough job.  She was in charge of the process of electing a new President.  She was on TV for five days reporting the returns every so often while the backers of the many candidates watched the process, along with the U.N. representatives and observers from other countries.

Constantly there were reminders to be peaceful and not to celebrate prematurely.
We heard the phrase "no pangas" in interviews on TV and on the graffiti in town.
It turns out that is a local word for a machete and in past elections they had been used in the heat of the campaigns.  Things seemed pretty peaceful here, although a couple of sets of missionaries said they had gotten a whiff of lingering tear gas in their areas.

We had lots of small caravans making noise and occasionally the police would whiz by headed to some place to get ahead of any potential violence.
Below is the election centre where the waiting for the slow vote counting was reported.

Finally, on Saturday night at 10 PM the vote total was certified and passed to the Supreme Court Judge to accept the decision and declare the winner.  There were five million potential voters but only one and a half million voted.  Part of the low turnout was due to the heavy rain and part due to apathy that the new president would serve for only one and half years.  The next election will be in July 2016 and the president elected then will serve for five years.

The race was close but from the people I talked to the results seemed to be cast along old tribal lines.
Hakainde Hichilema has mostly the southern and western tribes while Edgar Lungu has the eastern and northeastern tribal loyalty.  The decision is strictly by popular vote.  The difference between the two leaders was only 26,757 votes.

So, our new leader is Edgar C. Lungu.  When it was officially announced the cheers erupted and the horns started and went far into the night.  Our immediate neighbourhood was fairly quiet but the parades passed by for several hours.

The next day, Sunday the 25th, Edgar Lungu was sworn in as president at the new Hero's Stadium, less than twenty four hours after he was declared the winner.

Not everyone is happy so it will be interesting to watch events the next couple of weeks but I don't expect much trouble.  Zambians are very proud of their "peaceful" nation.

As a side note, today was a wedding reception in the same Mulungushi Conference Centre where election central was housed.  Some "hooligans" disrupted it and the police had to use tear gas again so the party was cut short.  They will remember this election for sure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Zambia - Beginning 2015

The New Year was welcomed by us by having a dinner at an outdoor restaurant with other senior couples.  Afterwards two couples went home but the Humpherys came to our house for some games and dessert and we watched the fireworks from the balcony upstairs.  There seemed to be more fireworks this year and we could see them being lit off all across Lusaka.  They have been selling them on the streets and I was very tempted but I didn't want to set a bad example for the younger missionaries.  Oh -- but they had some neat rockets! Pretty! Big BOOMS, but no firecrackers.

These are baskets sold in the market for tourists.  The seller has a group of women in the south of Zambia who makes these.  They can do one of these bowls about a foot across and ten inches deep in two days.  They sell for between eight and twelve dollars here in town.

Packages for the missionaries for Christmas have been arriving for the last six weeks.  Here is Elder Allred opening one of his.  I think the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were the most valued.


I continue to go to the bank a couple of times a week.  It is more often and to different banks the last week to pay rents at the end of the month.  Here I am standing in line, as usual it takes about an hour or more to finish and be on my way.  This bank's name is a good example of how most things are pronounced in Zambia.  In California we would say:  Zan-aco  but Africans tend to have two-letter syllables instead of three letter syllables.  The name of the bank is Za-Na-Co.

I got to meet a new Elder, Elder Ketchum at the airport as the President was involved in a Leadership Conference.  Elder Ketchum had been up for over 36 hours traveling from Provo, Utah.  I felt a little sorry for him as his eyes were rolling and head swinging from side to side as I drove around Lusaka before I could get him settled with his new companion.  He did get to meet Pres. Erickson on the way there.

Kristi and I finally took the time to drive outside of town a bit to "Mary's Bookshop".  Here were three enterprising young men who were selling bouquets to make a little money.

This is Mary's bookshop.  It consists of this building and a twenty foot shipping container full of books.  It is in her back yard.  She usually has a booth at the monthly craft fair.  There isn't much on our one channel of TV so I tend to read at night or work on a puzzle.

Now that the rains have come the maize crop is looking good.  
This is a nice field but in town it is planted wherever there is a little space.

This lady was heading home with her bundle of tools.

Kristi wanted her photo taken by this large bougainvillea so we could judge the size.

While she was standing there a man came by and asked if she wanted to buy a turtle. 
(She declined)

Kristi is now the choir director and this is after-church practice.

I watch this lady do her laundry or dishes each Sunday while we drop Noel off from Church.

One more random beetle passing through.

Last Saturday Kristi and I conducted some Branch training at the Chainama Branch and these missionaries, Elders Barton, Massey and Sisters Scott and Komiha were there teaching investigators.


It seems to be raining a little more this year.  The rains have turned to floods in Malawi and especially around the city of Blantyre.  We have had seven families there lose their homes.  Without a metal roof the walls just melt away or the walls can collapse.  The church is helping as much as it can.
This is what Lusaka looks like after about an hour of rain.

There just isn't a master drainage plan.

Within ten minutes of a cloud burst many intersections are difficult for walkers.

The biggest problem for walkers is that you can no longer see where the big holes are.

It also slows down the income for the merchants or "traders".

But if there is a will, there is a way.  
These chickens are dry and all will probably be in a pot before nightfall.

So I would say the lesson is don't accept immediate comfort as always a good thing.
Be careful to assess the big picture and perhaps a little dampness or discomfort now will provide a happier and longer future.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Zambian Elections 2015

Ever since President Sata died at the end of October, the politicians have been maneuvering to gain some sort of advantage.  First it was within each party, who would be their candidate?  Then they had to decide quickly to get their candidate qualified to be on the ballot.

 Eleven candidates made the ballot.
Now they needed money for their campaigns and it wasn't a secret that several of them went out of the country to collect money so they could get the word out.

Each night on the news there are warnings about not allowing violence, but there seems to be an undercurrent of strong rivalries,  and videos of hurt people.
It really doesn't seem dangerous but we are advised to avoid politics and big groups.  
You wouldn't want to be in the middle of some strong opinions.

The photos above are of groups of people who parade around at random just yelling about voting for their candidate and passing out flyers.  Sometimes they light bonfires in the middle of the street.

I watched the debates they had on TV.  The leading candidate chose not to participate.
Below is one the leading contenders.  His name is a bit difficult to pronounce so they call him H.H.

There was almost no graffiti here but now it is showing up in many places.

The graffiti below is for the leading contender and from the current party in government.

His name is Edgar Lungu.
Lusaka seems to be in favour of his election but most of the country is rural so it will be interesting.
There are 14 million Zambians and just over 5 million ballots printed.

The headquarters for the MMD party is only a couple of blocks from where we live.  We had a couple of slow nights driving home due to crowds, but this party's momentum seems to have subsided.

There are still a few hopefuls hanging on.

Today I drove by a small stadium where a rally was going to start but it was raining hard.
As I passed through this intersection my truck was plastered with about twenty posters with the photo of their candidate.  The posters stuck real well as the rain held them there.
After a few blocks I stopped and cleaned them all off.

It is best to stay non-political, especially since I am not eligible to vote.
To vote a Zambian must have a "national registration card" and a separate "voter registration card."
If you registered in your home village you must return there to cast your vote.
Tuesday 20 Jan. 2015 will be a national holiday so that everyone can vote. 

I do have an opinion about who I would vote for, but I don't share it, as I don't feel too informed.
There is so much said in the local languages with all those subtle nuances that I miss.
The thing about Zambia is that it has had six elections in its fifty years of peace and Zambians really do love peace and pray for that to continue.