It’s been a frenzy election campaign period with mixed reactions here in Kenya and it’s honest to say that the upcoming general election period is a perfect moment to witness Africa’s political transformation and maturity take shape. The country is one of the very few on the continent where democracy is openly exercised and if you want to understand the contemporary African political landscape, this is the opportune time.
On Tuesday 8th August, Kenyans will cast votes in favor of political leaders of their choice but the hottest race like the case with all other national elections is the presidential seat. The incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta son to the country’s founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta will toss it out with his main challenger Raila Odinga as it happened in the previous 2012 elections. The former is contesting on a Jubilee Party ticket while the latter is an aspirant of the National Super Alliance (NASA) which is a coalition of several opposition parties.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election bid for a second term is backed up by the massive development transformations that his regime has effectuated during his four-year tenure at the helm of the highest office in the land and the most well-known is the modern Standard Gauge Railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi that was launched two months ago. The incumbent is seeking for an extension of time to complete more development obligations that are still being worked on such as extending the Standard Gauge Railway from Nairobi up to Malaba as part of the East African Railway Master Plan.
On the other hand, NASA under the guidance of Raila Odinga is fronting its six transformational pillars that include; the nation and state building, transforming governance, realizing social and economic rights, creating jobs and eradicating poverty, plus promoting regional and international cooperation. It should also be noted that Odinga has a vast political experience that surpasses that of other contestants in this year’s general elections. Altogether, both presidential candidates present a plethora of practical measures from which Kenya can benefit to move ahead and if they were to form a coalition government, Kenya will collectively prosper beyond any expectations.
The only negativity from this year’s political campaigns has been open tribalism that reveals the deep ethnic rifts among Kenyans. As an observation, some major tribes align themselves with a particular political coalition but those supporting Raila Odinga attest that they have been sidelined as far as Kenya’s political spheres are concerned. Basically, Uhuru has a substantial support base in the North-Eastern, Central and Rift Valley regions whereas Odinga’s fan base is majorly in the Western, Northern and the Coast regions. But in this era when collective national cohesion is critically needed, one’s ethnic identity shouldn’t matter when it comes to ascertaining their competence for any public office. This has been the key message fronted by both candidates.
Like in other democracies, these campaigns have heavily been characterized with political endorsements from different societies and ethnicities such as this week’s endorsement of Raila by four of them. A positive light from these endorsements was NASA’s endorsement of Jubilee’s gubernatorial candidate for Eldoret which was indeed a shocker but also a sign that politicians from different sides can perceive the goodness in each other.
The campaign trail has been so expansive and exhaustive as presidential candidates traversed all counties and on average, they would conduct rallies in more than two counties in one day. Besides the conventional rallies, almost all Kenyan political aspirants at different levels have commanded a strong social media fan base to woo the mostly young Internet-savvy voters by keeping them updated while posting lots of informational stuff to implore them cast votes in their favor.
The build up to next week’s elections has had some dark sides of intimidation, loss of lives including the death of an election IT official, circulation of hate leaflets that have altogether left many fear-stricken but the country’s security forces have sought to calm down the chills despite the continuing mass exodus of people from urban areas to their country homes for fear of post-election violence.
All in all, Kenyans as they’re famously well-known for their cultural and ethnic diversity and being their brothers’ keepers, ought to bear in mind that the nation comes first before any ethnicity, or religion and b’se of this that they should adhere to uphold and maintain peace no matter the election outcomes. Nothing should remind us of the 2007 post-election violence and that’s why while casting your vote, reflect deeply on your pride as a Kenyan and that you’re voting for peace. Tell it to your heart that even if things turn out otherwise, you’ll still maintain your composure and refrain from doing anything that will destabilize this beloved country.
The whole world has cast its eyes upon the Tuesday elections and never has a critical moment as this one granted Kenya an opportunity to showcase itself as the torch-bearer of African democracy. This is the right time for this sweet nation to win the confidence of the world that it has moved past the level of hatred and onto political maturity by conducting free, fair and conducive elections. When it all ends well, Kenya will climb a new level as a beacon of democracy and this will usher in many positives such as foreign direct investments, infrastructural developments, a booming tourist industry and regional supremacy.
As the elections campaign fever winds up, I assume that every Kenyan voter is thoroughly convinced of the right person to take any political mantle in the next term and that they’re gonna disregard any tribal traits to elect the right leaders. Am also sure that our dear voters are convinced that they’ll use their inner conscience to exercise their democratic right and that no external pressures will influence their choice of leaders. This country is too valuable for its people to forsake the foundations that holds it unitedly; that is the constitution, love, peace and human diversity. So let’s all remember that before us, there was a strong, mighty and a unified Kenya.