The 2008 Election: A Momentous Occasion

Nov 42008

By Soine Negongo

The 2008 US election was indeed a momentous occasion. The moment it was announced that Democratic contender in the election campaign Senator Barack Obama was the new President of the United States, I was reminded about my country’s Independence 18 years ago.

Although this was no independence celebration from colonialism and apartheid like it was for Namibia, it was an historic occasion for the American people. It was an unbelievable time for many. Their expressions were clearly etched on their faces, some surprised, a few cried openly while others hugged each other and yet others sat in stunned silence, unable to believe what they had just heard.

I have seen similar reactions way back in 1990 when the South African flag was lowered and the Namibian flag hoisted, signaling a new beginning for people who had long been colonized, oppressed, segregated and denied their rights. That was when Namibia, the last colony in Africa was decolonized.

What an honor to have been part of such a momentous event and even now, days after it all happened, I’m still talking about what I witnessed in Milwaukee and other parts of the United States. Namibians from all walks of life are still keen on hearing what happened during those last days before elections and afterwards.

My attachment to Milwaukee was also a memorable one; the ICFJ couldn’t have chosen a better place to send me. The people were friendly, helpful and I had a chance to work with a dynamic group of people, who despite the crunch-time of elections, went out of their way to accommodate me in every way possible.

I will remember the American people, the hope and expectations written on their faces, the ordinary people with a purpose, young and old waiting patiently to cast their votes and to make a difference, united for one common goal -- to see positive change in their country.

Then there were the 50 international journalists -- we came from all corners of the world, hungry to feed information back to our nations. At the end of it all, we agreed that this was probably the one occasion that we would never forget in our careers as journalists.

Many thanks go out to the ICFJ and the U.S. State Department for a wonderful program that allowed journalists to pass on a better understanding of the U.S. electoral process to their countries and for strengthening the media practitioners’ resolve to continue informing and educating the masses.

The writer is a radio show host and editor with the Namibian Broadcasting Company.