My watch stopped at 11.12. Standing in the airport our watsan advisor asked me why I was wearing a stopped watch. “I like it,” I said. I didn’t mention that I thought it was appropo of going out to the middle of nowhere the day of the U.S. Election. No electricity, no televisions, no phones, no contact with the rest of the world for a week. It would be like time was standing still. No McCain, Palin, Obama (poor Biden…never got much of a mention). It would be blissful in it’s own cocoon sort of way.
Tuesday night I went to sleep with the mice, lizards and bats scratching out a living in the top of my tukul smug in the knowledge that my blissful ignorance might carry on for a full week. There have been few things that I have cared less about than this election and it’s nice sometimes not caring – about everything just because we’re told that we should.
But then, on Wednesday morning, I was awoken by the squawk of a badly tuned radio catching a frequency on and off. And there was a voice. In English. Telling me...and probably most of the rest of the village...that Obama had won. When I emerged bleary-eyed from my tukul our Kenyan staff started shaking my hand and slapping me on the back while congratulating me as if I had personally seen the man through to victory.
"What your people have done is truly amazing," our CHE Project Officer waxed eloquent. "With this election you have eliminated racism, poverty and broken families. Thank you! Thank you!"
"Uhhh, you're welcome," was all I could say.
Then came the announcement that Kenya had declared a national holiday. The Kenyan staff all looked at me plaintively.
"Uh-uh...no way," I said. "He's my president and if I, and the rest of the American people, have to work then you have to work."