I’m not going to lie to you: I spent the first 10 minutes of trying to write this trying to come up with an alternative to “intrepid hero”. New year, new moniker, right? …Not so much. Anyway.
My little parliamentary district became the focus of a nation this week. As those of you who have been following these dispatches may already be aware, I (and all of my other colleagues) have been on standfast due to the Ghanaian Presidential Runoff Election. As the time to announce the results came, it came to light that the Tain district (in which yours truly happens to live and work) did not vote with the rest of the country due to someone, er, stealing the ballots and torching the district Electoral Commission office. The runoff race was incredibly close — as in there was less than 25,000 votes separating the two main candidates — and because there are around 50,000 eligible voters in my district, it was decided that the announcement would be delayed until my district could vote on Friday, 2 January.
Thus, the voters of my small, rural constituency became the kingmakers for a nation. And as one of the few people with mobile internet access, I found myself in a unique position to report what I saw as a “citizen journalist”. I took my internet phone and walked around, detailing what was happening and what I saw. I answered people’s questions and dispelled a few rumors, and wore out a bit of shoe leather in the process. It was fascinating to see how all of the different players — the voters, the poll workers, the party representatives, the police and military — all came together and interacted. It was reassuring to see a peaceful, almost anti-climactic democratic contest, and it was a nice change from 10 days of sitting around and grading papers.
And in the end, Ghana managed to continue on in her position as democratic example to the rest of Africa; there is a new president-elect, and he will be sworn in on Wednesday. Our standfast (which was extended to Tuesday, 6 January at 0600GMT) will be lifted, and I can get out of town for a while to go buy more paint and plumbing supplies. Life goes on.
Alright. Back to the grindstone — I have about 100 exams left to grade. Keep on keepin’ on, everybody.