Reflections on the Kenyan elections

7 Min Read

March 20, 2013 By specialguest

With my love of this blog and Africa I asked Ida if the Kenyan election was being covered. She suggested I might like to give it a go.

Well never to say no to a challenge I am and with thanks to one of my Cousins who lives in Mombasa, Neelma Malde who works as a PR executive for Pwani Oil Products Ltd.

Now I have a very large family in Kenya and I am sure many of them will be confused why I didn’t go to them, they are older uncles and more embedded in Kenyan politics because they are in business

However that was not the view I was really after. I wanted to know how my cousin, who is younger than me, experienced the recent elections. After all the young are the future and everyone wherever you look is more politicised than ever.

You can’t help but squirm when you hear about an election year in Kenya, the track record is not great. Violence, looting and talk of vote rigging…so you fear for her people and wonder what the outcome will bring as it is not always peace. This time was no different but of course it was in the end.

The facts:

  • Uhuru Kenyatta won by a small majority, just over 50%.
  • He is the son of Kenya’s 1st ever president, although it seems this was not so much a feature in the media building up to his campaign.
  • Uhuru is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, when I asked my cousin about this she said the people elected him and that is what matters and when he was named leader, there was no backlash. She said this with such pride, as in her heart Kenya and Kenyans have matured they care enough about their country to change what has been their story.

Seems strange a country where he is apparently said to have instigated riots after the last election, elects him. Or does it say more about the international community’s control of a country?

Or…is it more to do with the fact that constitutional changes mean that the President no longer has the power of the past. Kenya has adopted a regional style of politics. Regions having representatives, including a mandatory selection of a woman, something I feel western countries could benefit from modelling.

Why did peaceful elections shock the world?

I can’t help but think it is an easy label that Africa has, troublesome and tribal. Yet the facts are missing, in the UK the Metro newspaper couldn’t even get the candidate names correct. The shadow of sensationalism and making Africa, in this case Kenya look bad and dangerous is just an easy thing to do.

The fear about the elections did of course impact on tourism. My cousin who lives in Mombasa one of the world’s most idyllic holiday destinations did see a quietening, however she said even a few days after the election you could notice more people.

She shared that all expats, as she works with a few, were told to stay at home, keep safe and expect trouble from their relevant embassy. They took heed so this made everything appear even quieter too. Kenya unlike the UK closes all business on the day of voting, to encourage voting as well as keep trouble minimal.

As we say no trouble, in Nairobi I hear from an uncle that he queued over 2.5 hours to vote and he said it was calm, it was peaceful and there was no threat or fear. This is a country that is shifting if you ask me.

Maybe it is the emerging new African middle class, the rise of entrepreneurialism and opportunities that the indigenous once never had that causes this shift. It is difficult to pinpoint and maybe that is the wrong thing to do as if a corner has been turned it deserves celebration, however much fault I am sure people will find should they wish to look.

Wasn’t democracy for the people and about the people?

My cousin, Neelma shared: Kenya wants to move on from its past – the local media are trying not to cause trouble. Less media hype and frenzy – keeping quiet to keep peace and not finding a story where there is none. Again something I feel the media here could learn from too.

Ultimately I don’t know enough about Kenyan politics, and like so many I watched with bated breath to see if this would spark more trouble. It hasn’t and that is down to Kenya and her people. Not because of foreign input or pressure, when has that ever worked?

Progress is progress and with the constitutional changes in effect, I wonder whether this is the beginning of a new era of cooperation in a country, in a continent we all seem to love

Sarupa Shah

Sarupa Shah is the Armchair Guru. She helps women get control of their dreams and make them a reality. Connect with the Soul Agent on Facebook

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