Almost 50 years of Tanzanian history in one photo

Glimpsed on the street in Stone Town, Zanzibar, on one of my microfinance trips:

The green and yellow sign ("I love Zanzibar, vote yes for me, choose CCM, choose Dr. Shein") is a campaign ad from Tanzania's ruling CCM party (from the Swahili abbreviation for "Revolutionary Party").

Giant signs like these are everywhere. On major roads, you might easily see five or six at once.

Since the dawn of Tanzanian independence, the CCM and its predecessor have run things from day one, even when that necessitated rigged votes and occasional electoral massacres (including one here on Zanzibar as recently as 2001). But that doesn't mean an election isn't a chance to spend some public money to tell the public whose money you're spending about how wise you are with the public's money.

And while there's a major opposition party gradually gaining support among the business class in Arusha and Mwanza, everybody already knew who was gonna win this one, just like always.

Sure enough, President Kikwete of the CCM was re-elected by a 35-point margin.

And so the people below the powerful smiling heads continue their long slow heavy slog uphill.