26 June, 2010

Election Day

Well, today is a big day. Today is the day that Somalilanders vote for president for the first time since 2003. This part of what the world knows as Somalia has its own currency, government, and has been much more stable than the rest of Somalia.

In the last election, the difference in votes between the winner and second place was less than 100. And yet the winner assumed power peacefully. This time, it very well could be close again, and hopefully the outcome will again be peaceful. The run up to the elections were incredibly peaceful with all 3 political parties holding rallies without fighting amongst one another and minimal conflict and accusations. With just over 1 million registered voters, it is not a vastly populated area, but with that number of people over 68,000 square miles (the size of England and Wales), many of which are nomadic or semi-nomadic, and infrastructure which has lots of room for improvement, it has been impressive to see the voter registration process and elections prepared.

Today Somaliland could set an example of democracy for the region and even the world. It will no doubt be an interesting day which could be a great step towards the continual development and growth of Somaliland. Read more in the links attached.

23 June, 2010

Should I Drink From It?

Ok, so I'm overdue for a post. And, I'm long overdue for a good post that is worth reading. So, this will at least fit the post category, and maybe at least one of the 3 people who still check my blog will enjoy it.

Since June 11, I've been watching a lot more television. We began a subscription to a South African satellite television provider called DSTV not exlusively because of, but in large part in expectation of getting to watch the World Cup. All 64 games will be broadcast on it. And, for once, I'm in a time zone that allows for premium live world cup watching. The only games I miss during work are the early game slot that ended Monday. 5pm and 9:30pm are the only times that games are on from here on out, and I look forward to watching more.

As the games began, we had 3 countries out of 4 represented (sorry Kenyans, your team just isn't so good at football). The US drew, Nigeria lost, and the Netherlands won. Today I was able to watch from a guest house in the capital of Somaliland as I'm here for just the night. The US very nearly disappointed, but managed to pull through with the victory. I was the only one shouting at the TV during US-Algeria as the German and Kenyan I was watching with both sat by much more passively. When the US finally scored in extra time, the other person in the house, a Swiss lady, came by wondering if the sounds coming out of the room were those of joy or those of pain, and thankfully Landon Donovan made it joyful.

I thought I might be fulfilling the loud American stereotype until the Germany game came on as the late game. A friend of the German joined us for this game, and the two of them were also yelling and screaming at the players and the ref inside the box we were watching. It's even better than the olympics, as the same sport is played for a month consecutively and each person is much more animated in support of his/her nation. All across the world, for this one month, there are curses and blessings shouted at televisions in dozens of languages over the same games. Watching in an international setting just makes it even that much more exciting and enjoyable.

So, on July 11, I know where I'll be and what I'll be doing. 4 years ago, the final match went to a shootout. About 10 minutes before overtime ended, the power went out where I was, and it didn't come back on again until after the shootout was done and Italy had won. This year, I've learned my lesson and will be bringing an APC battery backup home from the office so that even if the electric gets cut, the battery will keep the power on the television active for at least 15 or 20 extra minutes. But I hope it isn't needed. Hope you're also enjoying the games and fitting them into your schedules as well. After all, it does only happen once every four years.