I encourage readers to submit guest posts. The post below is by a Kenyan graduate student (Habiba Chirchir, a literary, travel, and African news blogger) at GWU who attended the Kenyan election watch at SAIS this Monday that I mentioned previously. The Kenyan elections have been a very hot topic in DC, almost crowding out the conversation on Islamic militants in Mali.
On Monday night (3/4/2013) I joined friends at SAIS to watch the Kenyan election results that were being streamed online. Kenyan graduate students at SAIS were gracious enough to host and invite the Kenyan community in DC to be part of one of the significant elections of our young nation. It didn’t take long before we realized that there was a glitch in relaying the results, since new results had ceased. This election is the very first that Kenyans are voting within the framework of a home grown new constitution representing a devolved system of government (as opposed to one that was drafted before independence under colonial leadership). With that in mind, the presidency is not the most critical position to be watching, contrary the county level elections are the most crucial in that, ideally the county level development is the future of Kenya- where resources can be allocated and collected more efficiently and at a smaller manageable scale.
During the election watch and various other interactions with Kenyans (in Kenya and the diaspora) I have been incredibly concerned when we Kenyans discuss our preferences for leaders. A friend mentioned that “I will not spoil my vote by voting for Martha Karua or Peter Kenneth, I will vote for the winning team” i.e. they are not going to win any way so why bother, just vote for one of the ethnic kings (Raila or Uhuru). Another friend said, “this is a tribal country and of course I will vote for Uhuru because he is a Kikuyu as I am”. I am flabbergasted by these views coming from Kenyans that are relatively young and educated. Today, I was watching KTN (Kenya Television Network) and one famous Nairobi lawyer Ekuru Aukot said the following “tunaujinga mwingi sana.” This Kiswahili phrase translates into “we are full of mediocrity/stupidity”. This resonated with me very much since he said it in reference to voting along ethnic lines and the extreme emphasis on the presidential rather than county level elections. I agree with Aukot it is ludicrous to expect change in a country while voting not on merit but on ethnic alliances.
Despite my rant and disappointment in the campaigns and the election results, I have not given up hope on Kenya. The fact is, even in the midst of Kikuyu country Ole Kiyiapi (a Maasai) got a few votes not significant but it means there is a Kenyan somewhere in a rural area that disregarded the ethnic euphoria and voted with their brain so to speak.
As I write this, the election results tally continues at headquarters in Nairobi-Bomas of Kenya. Our election watch party did not anticipate that a couple of days later we would still be awaiting the results.