Covering the Kenyan elections, which climaxed with the inauguration last week of Uhuru Kenyatta as the country’s fourth president, I suddenly realised I was watching a fad hitting its stride: the techno-election as democratic panacea. We’ll see it again in Mali’s elections this summer.
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Eric Kioko is in seventh heaven. He has been working since the first of January as ‘DJ Talanta’ with the popular radio station Ghetto Radio in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. It’s the first time he has a job since he lost an arm during the election violence of 2008.
Kioko is one of the thousands of victims of the orgy of violence that erupted after the election results in Kenya. He lives in Maathare, one of the slums that almost encircle Nairobi. It was one of the places where things went terribly wrong in 2008. The ethnic origin of the then 25 year old Kioko made him a target for his attackers. “Since then the government has done nothing to reconcile rivalling tribes. The tension has not been eased. On the contrary, tension is growing in the run up to the elections”, says Kioko in one of the narrow alleys of Maathare. The empty sleeve of his T-shirt moves softly in the wind.
President Mwai Kibaki leaves with a $200,000 golden handshake, but what kind of political settlement will he leave in his wake? Everyone is strapped in and the Kenyan election roller coaster has begun. A cacophony of electioneering propaganda is being blasted out through every medium. The political godfathers are flying around the country firing up their supporters, screwing down the vote, constituency by constituency and promising heaven after the March 4th poll. Kenya is poised at the top of a ride that could fling the country violently off the rails and send it to hell – as it did after the 2007 election. Or it could take the country elegantly into a dynamic new era, a transformation that would make it one of the most democratic countries in the world.
Caroline Mutoko is one of Kenya’s most-famous and most-popular radio show hosts. She writes columns as well in “The Star”. That newspaper refused to publish the below column Caroline wrote. She decided, instead, to publish it on her Facebook page.
Ninety days to Kenya’s Next general election and counting. I know we shouldn’t put numerical items in written articles, but just for emphasis – let me say this again – 90 days to go.
Sometime towards the end of last week, I saw several articles in the dailies talking about the poor turnout in the ongoing voter registration exercise. It’s news, infact it’s big news, but once again we missed the story. The IEBC is quoted as saying it might not be possible to meet the target of registering 18 million voters if the electorate is not educated on the importance of listing.