The 18th February 2011 is/was election day in Uganda. A lot of change (in pretty peaceful ways) have been taking place across the African continent over the past several weeks. I don’t know (but I can make a pretty educated guess) what will happen in Uganda or what change will take place, but I do know that it is getting ripe for a change. One of my friends’ facebook status this morning read: I voted for change and I am damn proud of it.
I really wanted to witness the presidential election in Uganda this year. I missed the 2006 election by a few months because I was working in American Samoa at the time. This year, I am once again missing the election because of a family emergency that required me to return to Florida. I’ve been kept pretty busy since I arrived on Wednesday night. The visit has been fruitful thus far, and I’m feeling a bit more optimistic about the situation at hand. Even with all of the distractions, my mind keeps going back to Uganda and all my friends and people I care about there.
I am registered to vote in Liberty County, Florida. My voter’s registration card indicates my polling station (if I’m ever in Liberty County during an election ever again) is next to Lake Mystic Grocery. Well, Lake Mystic Grocery is now defunct, and I’ve heard that the polling station recently changed venue, but the building that used to house the polling station is still there next to the building that used to house the local grocery store.
A pretty simple building, but it’s where I had one of my first lessons in democracy as a small child. I remember going there with my father sometime in the early 80s for him to cast his vote. Voting was a responsibility that my father greatly valued, and he tried to instil it’s importance in his children. On more than one occasion he took me into the voting booth with him to witness his choices. The first time I was able to vote after my 18th birthday had to be done by absentee ballot because I was at university at the time. He delivered my ballot to me, and while he insisted that I vote according to my conscience and values, he could not resist giving me some kind, “fatherly” guidance regarding the candidates.
Conversation was never livelier with my father than it was when it involved politics. The man was exceptionally opinionated when it came to politics, and he was always glad to share with you what he thought—even in a den of rattlesnakes. He definitely planted the seed for interest in politics. I do find my opinions to be quite strong, but I’d rather not argue about them. My tolerance for others’ points of view is improving; however, hardcore conservative ideas drive me up the wall (thanks, Dad) about as much a political apathy. I’m not quite as vocal with my opinions as he was… but I do often find myself in rattlesnake dens.
While anyone familiar with Ugandan “democracy” and politics can predict that outcome of the election, I want to express my admiration for those who went out and voted, actively working towards that change they dream to see.