I don't want to come off as one of those touristy types who think that everyone needs to know every detail of my life. But I feel the need to share my details of yesterday to give those of you reading this a little better understanding of what my life is like here. Sorry if this is long and tedious...
I began my day with breakfast in my room, like I do most every morning. I buy fresh bread at the night market near our hostel and eat it with groundnut paste (peanut butter) for breakfast. My former coffee addiction has been slightly curbed since I've been here, mostly thanks to the instant dirt that upon watering springs to a muddy creation that strangely smells like coffee. I decided to take my changes and accompany my breakfast with this pretend coffee. The rest of my morning was leisurely, since the only class I had was Twi, but not until 10:30.
As Becky and I walked to class in the morning, we passed other international students decked out in red, white and blue and donned with buttons or shirts of their favored candidates. It's been strange to watch the pre-game of the American elections from Ghana, where everyone seems to take a much bigger interest than I fear many Americans within the country would. Becky and I suddenly had a car stop right in front of us, roll down the window and ask us whom we were voting for. He then told us his views, and about how this was the most important day EVER. Well, I don't quite know if I would have gone that far...
After Twi class, a few friends and I went to the bush canteen, which is a mini market on the front fringes of campus. For 40 pesewa (about 40 cents), I got a delicious heap of fufu (pounded cassava) in palm nut soup. The Ghanaians around us commended my friend Amy and me for eating with our hands, and they laughed when we clumsily scooped the slippery substance into our mouths. Another 10 pesewa got me a peeled orange, which one holds and sucks all of the sweet juice out of from the top. Ghanaians still laugh at how much slurping noise we make and how much pulp ends up in between our teeth whenever we eat them.
Despite applying for my absentee ballot in AUGUST, it still never came. I waited all of October, plus the grace period of the week we were in northern Ghana. But alas, it's a no-show. So a few of us with similar stories went down to the U.S. Embassy (a.k.a. "Fortress America") to take another stab at our civil duties. After security checks and waiting in numerous lines, I told a lady at a window my sad story and asked what I could do about it. I did end up voting, but since I was told my ballot wouldn't even be sent out until the following morning (and after the results were already in) my vote didn't count. But at least I tried as hard as I could.
My friends and I were invited to an election party at night, hosted by NYU and a hotel down in Accra. We were shuttled down in a charter bus full of hyper white kids in Obama t-shirts. But despite our fears that the whole party would be like that, I was surprised at the diversity. Granted, the crowd still had a clear bias, but there were preppy Ghanaians next to the hippy Americans next to the middle-aged foreign expatriates. We sat outside in front of a large screen projecting CNN, and struggled to watch the TV as a local radio station loudly broadcasted from the lawn. Even though the five to eight hour time lapse made results slow and late for us, the energy was high. We left around 1 am our time, which meant not much had been reported, but we decided to be smart and sleep rather than wait out the night.
The opportunity to experience an election abroad and truly see the impact that the United States has on the world has been incredible. Regardless of feelings of Americans, Ghanaians are ecstatic about Obama as president. And while African-Americans must be feeling pride, local TV stations prove the empowerment that many Africans are feeling at this time. No matter what party or ideological divisions might be dividing some people right now, yesterday and today has made it easy to remember remember the 5th of November.