Sunday, May 23, 2010


It took us about two minutes to walk the wending inner streets of Mikocheni and arrive at the primary school. The room was nicely signposted, the government officials as warm and polite as one is likely to get. I got my picture taken after the nice lady told me to sit up straight and then adjusted my bra strap so it wouldn't show. Decorum. I asked the nice registration man if he was okay with me taking pictures too. He was nervous but he consented. People are kind to you when you tell them that it's your first time.

The classroom was peaceful and quiet, a civic cathedral where we all sat on the same narrow wooden pews that children would fidget on tomorrow. Someone had left a lesson on the greenboard in beautiful cursive. Kwa. Kwe. Kwi. Kwo. Kwu. It only took me ten minutes and a few questions to get inducted into the Tanzanian diocese of the Church of Electoral Democracy.

I was born in Mwanza City, Bugando Hospital, same as my four siblings. I will vote in Mikocheni, Kawe, Kinondoni- same parliamentary constituency as my three siblings and two parents*. I was handed yet another photo ID encased in hard plastic. Like so many of the best moments in life, it was wonderfully mundane.

Walking back home, the colors seemed brighter and the crows less annoying. This afternoon, I shall cook and dine with my favorite political operative and my oh-god-i-have-to-deal-with-government-hand-holder-in-chief to celebrate. While buying some brew, I asked my Duka Guy if he'd registered. He laughed and said he'd done that long ago. Everyone around me seems to have voted before, and I feel a bit silly being so terribly excited about this.

I can't wait. Have a blessed Sunday.

*That is where the similarities end. We have far too much fun twitting each other over political choices to sing from the same hymn sheet.


  1. Wait this is your first time - aren't you XXX years old? ;-) (where XXX = "more than old enough" :-))

    Actually I can't laugh at you, I've never voted either!:-) TZ does not allow overseas voting and for some reason these darn Americans won't let me vote in their elections.

    Hopefully I'll get to vote one day before I die ... I guess I'll have a similar experience to yours ;-)

  2. last time i registered to vote, the experience was sooo tiring, complex that i never did. but i do have a voting card from the other elections. i remember i was soooo excited then to vote, not only first time voting, but i had soooo much hope for kikwete's term...the things he promised to do, ony to disappoint me at the first controversial case, UFISADI!!!!!. well, good luck elsie, hope to hear about yout voting experience soon.

  3. You are one of the 5.6m first time voters in this years election. Congratulations and make your first time vote a vote for change, a vote for the reforms and a vote for transformation of our country. I am so confident that first time voters like you will make a diference. Zitto

  4. @ Dr. Bob: insane isn't it? that 'no diaspora vote' rule is the reason why I am XXX years old and giddy as a child at the thought of voting. Sigh. Good luck prying the vote from the Americans, they guard it fiercely. I'll tell you what it feels like after Oct. 31st :)
    @Anonymous: i feel you. i am actually looking forward to the crazy pilikapilika of voting day, like a big old rally :)
    I sincerely hope you are voting this year. I believe that the right to critique government rests largely on showing up to vote at the very least. If you choose to disengage for whatever reason, you compromise that.
    Besides, democracy is about choice. I Jay Kay let you for someone else! Hello! Empower yourself bwana.
    @ Zitto: Thank you kindly. Since we're hardly a mature democracy and I do watch Bunge sessions, I am not at all sold on all that 'change' and 'transformation' business. However, I do share your optimism about the new voters. Let's see what happens.

  5. Hongera mwanachi!

    That wasn't so bad was it? Now wait for election day...

    word verification: facia - the pretty cover of no crowds! to be destroyed come election day

  6. sib 3 here: guess i need to start responding on your blog rather than offline comments. congrats on the voter reg thing. hanging madly onto my tz citizenship meaning that i can't exercise my democratic responsibility in bongo or where i live. seriously, allow dual citizenship already!!

  7. @ La Dee: I guess we better assemble a survival kit then- sunblock, hats, cooler full of refreshments, lightweight camp chairs and battery-operated radio :)
    @ Sib 3: High five! Yeah, I dunno about the dual citizenship thing. Whenever I ask I don't get a clear answer so I don't know if it is lack of political will or... wait, that's exactly what it is. Plus a little xenophobic "nationalism" thrown in for good measure. You picked a fine pair of countries- thoroughly difficult immigration policies!


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