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A November 4th to Remember

Tuesday Night at the Kgoathe house. Seems normal, but this is no normal night. Rapula, Boitumelo, and Mmabatho are cooking energetically and thinking about the future. “I wonder what will happen?” “I’m a little nervous. I hope it’s not like last time…or the time before that.”

Earlier that day Rapula and Mmabatho travelled to Brits for some grubbin’ supplies. On the taxi ride home Rapula and Mmabatho were sitting in the front seat, sometimes called the ejector seat because of the proximity to the front windshield. The taxi is full of chatter in many different languages from Setswana to Sepedi to Shangaan. The radio talks about the Zuma’s corruption case going back to the High Court of Appeals. The subject switches to the US Elections. The driver leans over to the radio and turns it up and the taxi falls silent. The reporter describes the situation in Washington DC…voters had started lining up at 6 am, EST, and the line was more than 700 meters long. A slight drizzle was falling, but the voters promised to stay as long as it takes to cast their votes.

It is now 9 pm, South Africa time. None of the polls have closed and there are no early signs of anything. All of the news channels have vowed not to make any early predictions due to the problems in the last two elections. We are cooking a traditional American meal to feel a little more connected to our home. It’s Taco Night!!!! To start, we are cooking tacos with sour cream, diced onions and tomatoes, actual taco shells, homemade salsa, and homemade guacamole. Yummy.

10pm…the power goes out. This is not funny. The power has been going out lately for no apparent reason. Luckily, Mmabatho brought the Call Centre number for Eskom. We bother them. After we tell them we are Americans trying to follow the elections, they put a rush on it. Power’s back in 45 minutes. Way to go Eskom!!

After food and talking, it’s still only midnight…one more hour until the first closing and six hours until we have a more definitive idea…what to do. So, we decided to watch a movie…Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Seen it before, but nice to have something pass the time.

3am…finally finished the movie…now it is time to find out what is going on in the elections. The first returns are coming in and McCain has only won Kentucky. Three states to Obama. Exciting. The next three hours are more of the same. Checking in with CNN, New York Times, CBS News online. At 4am, Rapula calls his mother to get updates from home. Dad is asleep and will wait for tomorrow morning’s news.

6am..we are watching the news on SABC 3 on which the reporter is standing between two life-sized cardboard cutouts of Obama and McCain. We laugh and hope that she will interview the cutouts. The news on all channels are cutting back to US Elections for 30 seconds, only saying that Obama is winning.

6:30-ish am…news comes in that Obama has been declared the next president. A few minutes later, news that McCain concedes. Around 6:40am, the SABC 3 cuts to McCain’s concession speech. I thought it was very nice and we were able to see about 15 minutes of it. So we wait for Obama’s acceptance speech. The reporter comes on with the picture of Obama giving his acceptance speech in the background, and the reporter talks over it for five minutes. Mmabatho is almost through the TV screen, trying to strangle the dufus. Then the news broadcast plays two minutes of Obama’s speech, then they cut to South African sports. WHAT!!! Are you KIDDING ME!?!? Is Sarah Palin running the network?

We shut off the TV and sit back. A little frustrated, but the overwhelming joy and pride that we have in our country springs to the surface. We open the doors and tell our family (yes, they are usually up at 5:30 every morning with the sun) the happy news. Mmabatho collects her things and heads home for a needed nap. Rapula and Boitumelo barely make it to the mattress before unconsciousness set in.

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