Friday, 8 March 2013

Telling the story from my window: the Kenya 2013 General Elections

On Monday 4th March 2013, Kenyans went out to vote in large numbers. In an election registering the highest number of voters in Kenya's history, over 14 Million people registered as voters. Almost 12 Million turned out to vote in a contest that saw Kenyans assert their sovereignty, repeatedly call for peace and spend a week of numerous social media humour.

Last night, Kenyans stayed glued to their television screens, bearing calculators and keenly following the votes garnered by Hons. Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga vis a vis the total votes cast. The Constitution of Kenya gives two conditions to be satisfied before a person can be declared the President elect. First, the person must atleast garner a quarter of the votes cast in atleast half of all the Counties (Kenya has 47 Counties) and secondly, the person must have 50%+1(one) of the total votes cast in his favour. Uhuru Kenyatta had satisfied the first condition, Kenyans kept tally of every figure announced to determine whether he would satisfy the second condition. In an unbelievably nerve wrecking process, he managed 50.03%. Enough to Constitutionally get him through as the Fourth President of the Republic of Kenya. The official results however shall be announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at 11am EAT, on the 9th of March 2013. 

At 3am this morning, I woke up to breaking News ":Mr. President". I had resigned myself to a run-off. However most Kenyans were expectant of a first round win  Most wished it. There is jubilation outside my window, vehicles hooting, vuvuzelas blowing, cars honking. I watch from my window, unable to record the occurrences of this day on camera. But resolute on documenting the same here.

I find it absolutely important to note the following about this election:

  1. Hon Uhuru Kenyatta and Hon Raila Odinga both put forth a strong campaign. They both got over 5 Million votes countrywide. Therefore, both had a respectful representation of the electorate.
  2. Kenyans waited patiently for the lengthy and tedious process to come to a close. IEBC took close to five days to complete the process. Kenyans had hoped the same would be over in a span of two days.
  3. Kenyans used social media to call for peace. It possibly should be noted down as the most successful social election peace campaign not just in Africa but around the world.
  4. Kenyans took their right to vote seriously, queuing for long hours under unbearably hot conditions. They came out in Millions.
  5. There was an interesting voting trend in areas expected to vote for political parties breaking the chain and voting for secure political choices such as Nyeri County Senate seat and Nairobi County's Gubernatorial seat.
  6. Sadly, not a single woman was elected Governor or Senator
  7. A 19 year old was elected County Representative in Eldama Ravine, making him the youngest elected member in Kenyan politics
  8. Following the release of an atrocious staged video of Kenyans arming for violence released by CNN and scores of other misleading and negative reporting by International Media, Kenyans came together to defend the honour of their country by dispelling irresponsible international reporting.
  9. The phrase "Tyranny of numbers" gained renewed visual significance in Kenya.
  10. 16 women were elected to the National Assembly. This is still a very low number
  11. The Teso and Maasai communities elected women to the National Assembly for the first time in Kenya's political history
  12. Kenyans in the diaspora (East African Community) voted for the very first time.
  13. This election had a total of eight presidential candidates, 7 male candidates and one female candidate
  14. It was largely a coalition election
  15. The Kenyan media exhibited a high level of responsible and professional broadcasting.
  16. Security surveillance was perhaps the largest government focus in this election
  17. Kenyans established their National and County Governments, setting in a devolved system of governance
  18. Kenyans called upon the contestants to raise any election grievances with the country's independent and competent judiciary showing institutional maturity since the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
  19. Kenya became the first country in Africa to hold Presidential debates on key policy and political issues. A critical look at the presidential debates shows that there was a huge impact of the debate on the voting patterns. Mohammed Abdouba Dida, a Presidential candidate who Kenyans interacted with largely during the Presidential debates outwitted candidates who had been campaigning for close to a year.
  20. Kenyans for the first time elected the President and his running mate (who would eventually become the vice President), with the Governors also having running mates who would become deputy governors.
  21. The election itself comprised of six ballots each set in a different colour. The voting process took 4-5minutes per person on average.
Overall, this was an unprecedented election. This documentation is for posterity. Its a process my children should bear the privilege to follow from their mother's words. Written on the early morning of 9th March 2013 at Nairobi.

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