Zanzibar, October 2010
This year, elections are held in Zanzibar.
The center of power, the son of he man who organized the revolution of 1964, Amani Abeid Karume, might leave the presidential seat after 10 years of African creative bookkeeping.
The people of Unguja and Pemba, the ones who dare to think, put their faith in the opposition leader Seif Sharid Hamad, who is member of parliament.
The opposition leader is a lucky man because in this election the president needs him as never before to stay connected to the power of the people.
In the president’s own party, there are friends and foes. Some of his party members want the power to sell the beaches and other property to global investors who are very interested in developing the tropical beauty called Zanzibar.
It has become the big event of this year and the staff of the embassy has even organized an informal meeting for all the, in my case Dutch, mzungus to talk about the things to come.
For Zakia, this is a very emotional event so she made sure to get real press cards for “the beautiful eyes”. This way she could see, feel and photograph every campaign of both parties.
I went to the last two big events on the day before the election.
On the morning of the final campaign, our house is full of activity.
It is still early when Zakia’s youngest son, Humoudy, dressed in his blue party clothes, is already outside, carrying a bottle of water with him because of the heat of the coming day.
Suhayla, Zakia’s daughter is nervously waiting for her aunty to be her companion for the day since Mama would be in the center of the attention with her big red press card,
It is not difficult to find the campaign ground since many, many ( Zakia says, thousands ) happy people of all ages, full of color in clothes and faces, are singing and making music with horns, drums and other musical instruments. They all follow each other to the spot where the leader of the party will give his final speech but before that will happen, there will first be a lot more happy African song and dance to experience.
The press card becomes a magical key which opens all doors. Anything seems possible.
I can even sit in the tent of the most important people of Zakia’s party. I can not find a chair to sit on but to borrow a party cap from a nice beautiful girl is not a problem.
Zakia finds her son on the first row on the campaign ground but as soon as he sees the camera, he becomes a little shy.
After a nice lunch, we walk the last kilometers to the campaign ground.
More than a thousand people accompany us on our journey, all dressed in the free campaign colors t-shirts and caps, a sea of yellow and green.
Zakia is deeply impressed by the sight of so many people being together without any trouble. Only African women’s bottoms and breasts seem to be present, shaking to the rhythm of the drums.
Perfectly organized, the evening rolls to an end and brings the crowd home, still singing their songs.
This day wil be remembered by Zanzibar as a perfect one.
On the day of the election Zakia is lucky, she does not have to wait in line, or maybe it is because of the big red press card on the string around her neck?
When she enters room three, I am ready to make my contribution for this blog by making a picture of Zakia putting her finger in the inkpot, but her camera that I want to use, is out of power.
Finally, election day is over and we go home where Zakia stays glued to the radio for updates on the results.
After two days of nervous waiting, the results are in and show only 1 % difference between the two candidates.
The word of the day may spoken by Seif Sharid Hamad be the word of the year: “ There are no winners or losers .”
THIS IS THE NEW ZANZIBAR!