We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

What Will You Wear to the Polls?

What are you wearing to vote? This was the question much discussed by all the Mamas at the meeting in the garden this afternoon, a meeting to plan a wedding send-off for Mary. Mary is the eldest daughter in the family that lives on the property with us here. (Incidentally, Mary is marrying our friend from MICC who has been doing carpentry work for us.) While the meeting was to plan the party, it seemed to me it was rather a party in itself, with over twenty women and dishes and dishes of food! And after my full plate of rice and stewed goat earlier for lunch in Kayenze, I confess to struggling a little! But back to the question ...

Mamas tucking in at the planning meeting!
The question was a serious one. And it was one that Pastor Amon also talked about for quite some time in the morning church service in Kayenze. With tensions running high in this election, he advised everyone to wear very neutral clothes to the polls on Sunday. To be safe, people are advised not to wear anything with the colours of either political party. This means no CCM green or yellow. This means no Chadema red, white or blue. So the ladies were looking critically at their clothes, discussing what was a "safe" outfit.

I hope I remember this conversation the next time I start to complain that I don't know what to wear... this puts female "wardrobe woes" into stark perspective.

These colours are "out" ...

Chadema Colours
CCM Colours
I asked some of the mamas if they were afraid to vote in this election. Some said no. Some said "Mungu atasaidia." (God will help us.) All said they were far more afraid about the day the results are announced. But they are all planning to go to vote very early in the morning on Sunday. Before the crowds, or so they hope. All are praying for safety and peace.

Our plan has been to avoid crowds and rallies. But late the previous afternoon, my Upendo wa Mama group turned out to be in the midst of a CCM rally. Rather than take one of the crazy daladalas home (most of them were driving recklessly around with people hanging out waving flags and scarfs and blowing horns), Tim came to pick me up and we went on to collect the girls from friends. We didn't even realise until afterwards that CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli, was at the centre of all the commotion. We were only 10 minutes from home, but the chaotic crowds were so thick and the traffic so jammed, we were not moving anywhere. We tried to divert through town, but that was even worse. We ended up taking a huge detour out of town and coming back in from another direction. We were very thankful to arrive safely home over an hour later. But that experience definitely convinced us to stay well clear of crowds this week and the week following the election.

As it's election day in Canada, we'll be thinking and praying for you... and wondering what you are wearing to the polls! Here, we will be sure to plan our wardrobes sensibly this week.

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