Monday, December 15, 2014
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
When we moved here in June of 2005, the ruling party or CCM controlled over 90% of the government. In the elections in October that year, the opposition parties hoped to increase their number of seats in Parliament to at least 30 but instead they dropped to only two. Some of the worst corruption in decades followed for the next five years. In the elections of 2010, the opposition increased their seats to almost 100 (out of 300) and for the first time ever, an opposition Presidential candidate received almost 40% of the votes. Many believed he had won but that the CCM had fixed the election. There was violence in many cities and in Musoma, just an hour north of us, almost 25 people were killed in political clashes, but an opposition candidate became the MP (member of parliament) and he is an outstanding man and a friend of ours, Vincent Nyerere, the nephew of Julius Nyerere, the father of Tanzania. There will be national elections next year, and they are expecting more violence than Tanzania has ever seen, maybe on the order of Kenyan violence. I’m giving you this history lesson because yesterday local elections were held in Bunda—yes, on a Sunday. This is what one of our neighbor missionaries posted on Facebook yesterday: “So Tanzanian local elections today are progressing in an "interesting" fashion. I can hear crowds yelling from town and so far 5 tear gas bombs have gone off here in Bunda. Last night on our way out of Musoma, we heard about 20 tear gas explosions and saw loads of crazy pikis (motorbikes) driving in a ridiculously crazy way with 3-4 people on each one. Riot squads everywhere, army truck zoomed into town loaded with machine guns.” We were kept awake by gunfire until about 10:30 last night. The sound echoes here because of the hills, but it was loud. We heard no shells whistling overhead and saw no muzzle flashes, but we kept watch. Shaban sent us a text message telling us to stay inside the house, which we had no trouble doing. Shaban came by this morning to say that all the violence came from the ruling party CCM to force people to vote for their candidates, but that it failed totally as not a single CCM candidate was elected. Some of the shooting we heard late last night was the opposition parties celebrating. You can’t say our lives here are ever boring. We are somewhat worried about next October and the national elections. We will just have to store up about a week’s worth of supplies (food, propane, etc.) and keep the car’s gas tank full in case we have to make a run for the border. And some of you people don’t even bother to vote in your own elections—shame on you.