May 23, 2005
Once upon a time ...
These elections are such a big event here in Ethiopia that you get the feeling they are already becoming part of the folk lore. Some of the stories you hear are slowly taking on aspects of myth and legend.
First of all there was the huge opposition rally the Sunday before the national poll. The size of the crowd keeps growing in peoples' imaginations. First there were one million people there, then two, then four. The latest thing I have heard is that it was probably the biggest crowd ever to have gathered in Africa. (Never mind that the capacity of Meskel Square - according to the organisers of the Bob Marley concert earlier this year - is 300,000.)
Another great folk-tale-in-the-making appeared in yesterday's Capital paper:
Unconfirmed report reached us that in an anonymous rural area a group of youngsters in their late twenties spent the night in a tree on Election Day, to make sure that the actual ballot papers were counted appropriately the next day. Early next morning they noticed some people going into the room and coming out with the ballot boxes. The kids created havoc screaming and shouting and the culprits were stopped.
This has it all: the vague, distant rural setting; the boys up a tree - a mixture of Robin Hood and Zacheus in the New Testament; the local heroes; the moral ending. You can imagine this story being told and being elaborated upon for years to come.
That is not to say that any of these tales are lies or propaganda or anything like that. It is just that the facts behind them are already being amplified and tweaked for inclusion in Ethiopia's mass popular memory.
Meanwhile - Meles Zenawi was voted in in Adwa - here's the official result (click on the 'Adiwa Ketema' constituency). No surprise there as he was the only candidate standing. And diplomats have appealed for calm as the official results start coming in via the National Election Board. (You can keep up with them through the new panel in the right hand column.)
Posted by aheavens at May 23, 2005 5:24 AM