A to Z Referendum

apathy Voter turnout was less than half of what was expected in most areas. Fatigue over the whole matter coupled with the cost of traveling hundreds of kilometers to vote, in an insignificant election, only a month before the expensive Christmas holidays, transport fare hikes, meant that if you couldn’t vote where you lived, you didn’t travel. Presidential elections are usually held in December, during the school holidays and just after Christmas.

boredom Cooped in the house for four straight days and TV was non-stop referendum news. See movies

clowns too many to mention but the roll includes; (i) the government spokesman who despite having nothing to say, couldn’t resist the opportunity provided by having the election media centre in his office building (KICC) (ii) at least two MP’s who showed up without ID or voter’s cards but demanded to vote.

duty Kenyans from all walks of life turned out to perform their civic duty. Turnout was low, but the result showed a true picture of the Kenyan electorate see gullible

emergency plans certain donor bodies (e.g. OXFAM) advised staff to avoid Kenya and even set up emergency chains of command and communication just in case things when wrong. Some international banks moved operations staff into hotels in downtown Nairobi so they could be near their office even if there was chaos around town. DT Dobie withdrew all Mercedes cars from their showroom window.

Fox News Kenya Royal Media’s Citizen has replaced the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) as the pro-establishment media house of choice. They had round the clock coverage of the election coupled with patriotic songs (both on radio and TV) while their Leader, was the only newspaper to endorse an election position (For a strong Yes!, and even published their opinion poll predicting a slim Yes victory.

The songs played on Citizen are hypnotic and catchy choir melodies, with children singing the choruses, with phrases such as;

kenya kenya kenya
nchi yetu
yenye mafanikio
tupendane, tusaidiane
kenya kenya kenya
Nchi yetu
ukabila tuondoe
tushirikiane sote pamoja

gullible Voters in Central and Nyanza who repeatedly produced +97% votes favoring their leaders, and not on the merits of the draft itself.

hongera means praise in Kiswahili to all the citizens, and police of Kenya. (i) Citizens for voting peacefully and for putting up with voting hitches and delays. (ii) The Kenya Police force for maintaining peaceful elections around the country, and also for enabling the peaceful staging of two simultaneous political rallies, just hundreds of metres apart in Nairobi on Saturday.

incidences catchy word repeatedly used by endless radio hosts when they probably mean to use the words ‘incidents.’

Kenyan I now feel like one after voting for the first time ever (shareholder AGM’s don’t count). It’s a shame that I could not vote before when I was abroad

line: In Kenya, you should never ever join a line, unless you know where it is going to end. I have learnt this the hard way – at some banking halls, and offices e.g. of KPLC and Kenya Revenue Authority. On voting day, I stood in the first short line I found at the polling station for 30 minutes only to later realize that voters had been assigned to different lines (leading to different voting rooms) based on their names.

media the media gave some good coverage. However two incidents troubled me (i) the election was peaceful in most parts of the country, yet near the end of the long day, one TV station devoted over 15 minutes to some stone throwing at one Nairobi location. The media should not glorify sporadic acts which are likely to incite similar incidents. – it’s the reason sports broadcasts don’t show streakers or fans who run onto the pitch (ii) just because the government spokesman is in front of a microphone is no reason to let him talk non-stop – cut him off and do you own (more reliable) reporting. Blooper of the day yesterday was a morning radio host who at 7:30 a.m. asked an on-site reporter if there were any preliminary results!

Watched very good ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and ‘Crash.’ Also watched Spanglish and some other forgettable DVD’s.

nite a late entry: as in the Carnivore, who threw a bash called the referendum ‘soul’ night. I Didn’t attend.

over as in we hope it’s all over, and can we move on to the economy, service delivery, infrastructure and growth

Patriotism see Fox News Kenya

queues see lines

Resign Like FEMA officials after hurricane Katrina, some people dropped the ball on voting day – and while its not a Kenyan thing to resign, some non- politicians need to resign including; (i) the attorney general and his team for the incoherent draft they produced (ii) all civil servants (identified by KNHRC) who openly defied the code of conduct for public officers and campaigned using their offices (iii) the entire constitution of Kenya review commission (CKRC) – for wasting millions in the name of non-existent civic education, and because their 15 billion shilling gravy train must come to an end after 8 years.

The electoral commission of Kenya gets a pass because overall the election was well carried out but they could have extended both the registration period for voters and hours for voting beyond 5 p.m.

smart most voters are smart enough to bring reading materials knowing they may line up for hours, but some (old KC’s) even brought folding stools with them.

trash over the last three years we have followed the debate on the draft, sometimes buying two or three newspapers a day just to keep up. Now old newspapers are garbage, which I’m told I can sell for only 20 shillings a kilo. I may have about 15 kilos to clear.

uncertainty three types I felt (i) would I be able to vote with a passport? (ii) Should we line up according to names indicated at polling station? (iii) Was my name really on the voter’s roll as it was my first ever vote?

violence see media

“who’s who’s” included in the voters at polling both around the country were all manner of leaders from the president, MP’s business leaders etc. At my polling station we had Joe Wanjui, Titus Mbathi, Bob Kioko, among others. Still, it’s not a place to network or you may get (violently) thrown out for trying to influence other voters.

a simple mark to check one of two boxes on ballot cards. Yet there were so many spoilt ballots because many (literate) villagers did not understand how to vote. See resign

yellow church leaders and (most) civil society organizations for failing to take a stand on a very complex document. It was too complicated for me and for many rural people who voted, and yet these ‘experts’ just folded their arms and let the dice roll.

zero internet access for most of the weekend. One disadvantage of a mobile phone, and not having a landline, is a dependence on having to use cyber cafés for internet usage – and most of these were closed for several days.

23 thoughts on “A to Z Referendum

  1. Omani

    I think we may have a relatively high rate of literacy, but a higher rate of ignorance.
    I think we have a bunch full of politicians and a handful of leaders.
    I think this is a great country…and that we can work through differences.

  2. Afrom

    Wonderful summary. I agree with mshairi this is just excellent.
    I feel proud about our country. Here’s hoping that we can tackle the many challenges that we still have. Ofcourse we’d have to See R -Resign

  3. Adrian

    good point about the media and the portrayal of violence – waste of time!

    during the recent clashes in france, after a few days the media were asked to stop giving the daily numbers for “cars burned last night” – for the same reason you state.

    good read, thanks!

  4. bankelele

    mshairi: thanks, I had four days to brood over it all.

    omani: you’re reight – litreacy does not equal being enlightened.

    afrom: election well done, but world media ignored the story after it ended peacefuly.

    mentalacrobatics: am not a church man, but I recognize that they have a lot of influence.

    adrian: I think they showed the violence, because it was something new & happening, and they were bored as they awaited results.

    msanii_xl, ciiku and hash: thanks, i truly appreaciate the sentiments shared.

  5. Ms K

    This is really quite brilliant Bankelele. Brilliant!

    I think I’d have included Tribalism in there. I was astounded by the levels of tribalism amongst us. Even among my friends. I fear for the country.

  6. AfroFeminista

    I was a bit hesitant to read this post – having being all fruited out, to last me a life time, but yours is simply the best:)
    I’m with Ms. K that you should add Tribalism under T and Buffonery under B.

    Ah, I see you were one of ‘those’ people lining up in the wrong lines only to realize that, they should have been elsewhere…:)I saw a few of those too. Mainly because they would ask someone who also didn’t know, instead of just reading the signs (illegibly printed in Biro!) which the ECK had put up, showing which line was which…

  7. bankelele

    Apologies to all for the numerous typo’s which I keep finding in this post e.g. it’s not Central Nyanza – it’s Central and Nyanza.

    Ms K: I agree, that Tribalism should be added under T.

    AfroFeminista: Ditto, Buffonery can also be added under B.

  8. Anonymous

    Can’t , won’t agree with you that this was an insignificant election. The low turnout had nothing to do with its significance.

  9. Guessaurus

    Completely agree with all of the above for this being an excellent summation of the ‘fruity’ business. Enjoyed it thorough Bankelele!

    T made me LOL – you have 15kgs of Trash? Do them people who used to come door to door buying newspapers and other recyclable stuff still exist? LOL Pole

  10. Keguro

    Because you did such a wonderful job, I wonder if I can make requests

    1. A-Z list of recommendations to politicians

    2. A-Z on noteworthy political initiatives

    3. A-Z on Kenyan absurdities

    I just like lists!

  11. jke

    Nice summary, thx!

    Interesting to realize that the youth wasn’t lured into violence this time and that those emergency plans like D.T.Dobie’s were unnecessary / exaggerated.

  12. bankelele

    Adi: The election was not as significant as one that can result of a change in leadership (at all levels)

    Guessaurus: Thanks, and people do still come around buying papers (watchman will identify buyer for my papers)

    Keguro: Thanks, will try for future lists.

    Magaidi: Spoilt votes are a mystery.

    jke: thanks, it’s hard to associate violence with voting day – unless you deny people a chance to vote.

  13. Prousette

    Excellent summary thankfully without b for banana and o for oranges. Am terribly proud of my country right now for sending a resounding message to the leaders that they are servants of the people meant to work for us and not the other way round.
    Citizen TV and radio ought to be ashamed of themselves, really.

Comments are closed.