So the long-awaited and highly anticipated Election Day finally arrived. I was assigned to cover the elections with Awoko reporter, Ophaniel Gooding. We went to the polling booths in Kingtom – where Independent mayoral candidate Pateh M. Bah was voting – as well as the stations in Regent Square, where Acting Mayor Herbert George Williams voted.
And as explained in my previous column, I was quite excited and geared up for this Election Day. After the strong impression that the political party rallies left on me, I was convinced that the day of the election would be a similar atmosphere.
But upon arriving to Kingtom, the turnout wasn’t as large as I expected. Granted, Ophaniel and I arrived there fairly early, but I was still hoping to see long lines and an excited group of people – not unlike the mood of the rallies.
Most people, as Ophaniel pointed out to me, actually looked rather tense as they entered their respective polling booths. And as they exited after they submitted their ballots, they looked relieved, as if a certain weight had been lifted from their shoulders.
I suppose it’s because this election is important for the people of Freetown and Sierra Leone who are seeking change and have a positive outlook for the future of their political leaders.
The polling booths at Regent Square were not that much different. It was a smaller venue and thus a bit more organized, but the looks on voters’ faces as they entered and left the polling booths were the same as those of the voters in Kingtom: Serious and a bit nervous coming in; glad and relieved leaving.
We got the opportunity to interview several voters standing in line and leaving the polling stations. Most of them had the same message that they were pleased with the election process and that they were excited and happy about voting.
With all of the talk and warnings against violence and intimidation during the elections, even I was glad and relieved that I didn’t witness any potentially dangerous incidents.
In the end, the people of Salone are all hoping for the same objective, in one form or another, and it was a great relief to see this day go peacefully.
Election Day, as a whole, was a pleasant experience for me. While the voters weren’t as wildly passionate as they were during the street rallies, they were still upbeat and devoted to the voting process. It was great for me to wake up in the early hours of the day and hear a song about Election Day being played on a radio outside my hostel.
My colleagues jokingly asked if I voted today, which only prompted me to think to myself that I hope to bring the same Sierra Leonean attitude and passion exhibited on this day (and this week) to the upcoming presidential elections in America.
By Yu Nakayama