November 5, 2004
The American Presidential election was viewed with great interest here in Malawi. (Notice I said Presidential –most Africans could care less about Senators and Congressmen and other elected officials.)
Heather and Brooke were besieged at school. “What do you think of Bush and Kerry? Who are your parents voting for?”All their friends wanted to know who they thought would win, too.
Dan and I sent in our absentee ballots in October. I have to say that though we heard occasional reports on how close it was going to be, we did not have (nor did we miss) the total media saturation that comes before an American election. International newscasts have other important things to broadcast. However, we were very anxious to hear the results, so we stayed tuned to the BBC, which had a surprising amount of reporters covering the election. Because of the seven hour time difference, we went to sleep when the polls were still open in some places. When we got up in the morning we started hearing late night results and predictions. Dan took his radio to work so he could monitor the news and I had the computer on and watched results come in on CNN and MSNBC. I have to admit, that for the first time, we really missed the TV coverage. Our bank here has a TV that is always tuned to CNN, so before Bible Study on Wednesday morning, I stopped in to watch for a while.
Malawians have great interest in Democratic Government, after having been under Colonial rule and then a repressive dictatorship, they do not take freedom lightly. They are skeptical of promising leaders, because their last president, who they pinned so many hopes on, was forced to leave office amid allegations of widespread corruption and scandal. It is a good lesson for us to see, because we sometimes forget how fortunate we are to have a government (warts and all) that allows us so much liberty.
Our friend, The Rev. David Carver, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Crafton Heights outside of Pittsburgh, wrote the following in a recent newsletter to his congregation:
“In political seasons, we too often fall into the trap of thinking that our primary identity is that of American citizens. We are that, of course, just as we are consumers and Steelers fans and Presbyterians and ice-cream lovers. But that is not who we are at the core of our being. Because of our relationship with the Lord, we say that first and foremost we are Christians. Our identity in Jesus Christ transcends - trumps –overshadows any other label that we might want to put on ourselves. We are the church of Jesus Christ.”
Being in Malawi has helped us remember that.