July 18, 2005

The Color of Democracy

(alternative title: Color Me Democracy--I've been listening to too many 80's songs, or the Mystery of the Black Finger)

I was in a meeting last week when I noticed that one of my Congolese colleague had a blackened tip of his finger. I winced, imagining the force of a door slamming to bruise both finger and nail.

Then I started noticing more and more black fingers. Were people just being careless? I would have to be more careful when locking the bathroom door behind me.

The second meeting of the day started with a little bit of banter and discussion on the new voting cards in Congo. Boy oh boy are those cards sophisticated: they have names of the voters but also their picture, fingerprints and a code bar. AND they're laminated! I announced in a little voice, that ours were made from paper and still printed on those printers that need paper with perforated holes in the side of them. It's embarrassing.

I suddenly felt a little light bulb go "ping!" in my head when I realized that my colleague's had not been banging their little fingers in doors, instead had been getting registered for voting and dipping their fingers in ink for fingerprint.

Black is the new color of democracy. (Now if they could only get their fingerprint database up and running...)

I would like to thank Kim for posting on my map. Thanks Kim! And I guess this is as good a time as any to mention that I have this wonderful Guest Map (see side bar), and that you would be a wonderful guest for pinning on my map.


Anonymous said...

Looks like it's getting off to a good start! So how long would it take for you to be able to acquire the Congolese citizenship and vote as well?

For those of you having trouble accessing this blog's comments section, try using Netscape!

Black River Eagle said...

There was a very interesting article at the Melbourne IndyMedia site on June 17th, 2005 titled "More Bungling Ahead of the Supposed Congo Elections" which touched on the subject of voter registration and voter I.D.'s in the (re)scheduled D.R.C. national elections.

The article claims that a Brussels-based company named ZTS was awarded a Euro 40 million contract to deliver "electronic electorial kits and materials" for an estimated 45 million elegible voters in the D.R.C. According to the author of the piece, only 10,000 electronic kits had been delivered to the country so far and of those only approximately 2,500 kits delivered to Kinshasa.

Realizing that you put up a disclaimer recently re: the purpose of your blog, I still wanted to ask if you had heard anything about this claim from your Congolese colleagues and friends or from the local press? I can understand of course if you can not or will not address the question. It's kinda hot down there re: politics and democracy.

Greetings to Sarah over in Kindu. Good luck with your work and your blog down in the Congo.

Black River Eagle said...

Thanks for responding to my enquiry today as any kind of postive news out of the Congo (DRC) is interesting and valuable.

I won't get you into any more hot water with politics down there but did want you to know that there was an artilce about the voter registration in the DRC over at the IRINnews site July 14th titled: "UN says it needs an extra US$ 190 million for polls".

In the article two numbers really jump off the page at you as a citizen from one of the "donor nations" to the DRC: $190 million bucks to support the DRC election process AND a projected MONUC budget 2005-2006 in excess of US$ 1.3 billion. There is also an IRINnews update article dated July 26th confirming what you have written today, that registration has begun outside of the capitol Kinshasa.

We can't put a price tag on helping to achieve peace and security in the DR Congo and especially to support the people there who have suffered so many catastrophes over the last 120 years or more, but somebody needs to talk with Kofi & Co. over at the UN about cost-effective economic investments and money management. Maybe we need to send Big Al (Greenspan) over to talk with Kofi ASAP?

Cheers and keep us posted on the goings on down under in the Congo.

Black River Eagle said...

Thank you 007 in Africa for the dialogue as well. You know, you have a really great blog here, really! I've added 007 in Africa to my blogroll today to help you get a little more air under your wings (traffic) and to remind myself to stop by more often.

I saw that post on the students from the University of Kindu having to study for exams under a single naked lightbulb. A lot of people in developed countries never stop to think that a great many schools (etc.) in a country like the Congo do not have electricity. To graduate from university under those conditions is not only a show of resiliency, it is practically superhuman. These people deserve much better and much more support from "the world comunity" than they are presently getting.

Writing about your experiences and thoughts and observations while living and working in the D.R.C. is important and much appreciated; the same goes for your friend Sahara Sarah.

That's all for now, y'all...:-)

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