so, the people go to vote

After waiting so long it was in a way most appropriate that my laptop crashed, burned and died the day before Angolans went to the ballot box. Initially my response was calm and quite collected but it became increasingly hysterical, angry and at certain stages abusive – “Did I hear you say you apologise if you’ve caused me any inconvenience? IF! IF! You’ve caused me more inconvenience than my mother in law in five years!”- as I tried to accept that my older machine was dead and for the scrap heap and the only option was to buy a new one. I now have a silver HP and am trying to learn to love Windows Vista. So far, just about, so good. But the truth is, I’ve become a lazy lady since meeting a wonderful man who happens to know a lot more about computers than I: I sit back and watch as he reprogrammes and exports and imports, and offer the odd helpful comment. “Surely clicking the mouse that fast that repetitively can’t be good for my new laptop?”

I told a friend about the laptop disaster and she said, “Lara, I’m so sorry our country is that strong.”

“What?” said I.

“Of course the laptop broke because of the MPLA.”

Who knows? I’d believe anything these days. Various friends have phoned as the results have streamed in, all with varying degrees of depression in their voices. What will we do now Lara? What are we going to do? A fellow blogger – morro da maianga on the right there – believes that Angola is following in the footsteps of Mexico, where a single party led the country for over 70 years until 2000. Currently the results are standing at about 80% in favour of the party that’s been in power for 33 years, the MPLA. And so I’m feeling that I was too optimistic in one of my reports for the M&G. Hope standing in the way of the writing. The Angolan ambassador who said, We aren’t just going to win, We’re going to crush the opposition, was right. And so this might well not be the beginning of a democratic process, but – as Wilson Dada (of morro da maianga) puts it so nicely – ‘the (democratic) return to the one-party state’ and later comments that this democracy in Angola is a simulation of democracy based on repression and violence. I don’t wish to wonder what the wretched so-called international community will have to say. Do they still think these are the best elections in Africa (I wonder, why do they limit their comparisons to the continent of Africa only? why do they look down from up there as if their own aren’t worth some comparison? so patronising, so patronising)? Best to keep quiet until all the results have come out, and we have heard just exactly what went on in the mess of Luanda. The key questions for me are: how many people voted? was there, as some predicted, a high abstention? what went on in the Lundas, the central highlands, and also Huambo? and what the hell happened in Luanda? I heard one report that half of the ballot stations didn’t open. I find that, even given the MPLA’s capacity to maintain control, quite unbelievable. So let me be quiet until we’ve had time to think and read all the information. But my heart is heavy and I feel for those friends who say they are losing hope.