By JOE KIARIE
Their operating hours overlap those of night runners, only that their mission is dissimilar. Night after night, they have been crawling in the cover of darkness and executing their mission with nauseating ineptitude.
These are vandals who have been smearing buildings, walls, flyovers, underpasses and outdoor billboards with mammoth political slogans as the race to the General Election hots up. In some neighbourhoods, the scribbled slogans now even cover gates, doors and windows of private residential houses.
Along the newly constructed Thika superhighway, the wall writings have turned barely every flyover and underpass into an eyesore. Similar vandalism is also highly conspicuous in most parts of Nairobi’s Eastlands, Westlands, and along Mombasa Road.
Running alongside the graffiti are religions crusades and entertainment advertisement posters among assorted wall ads. While names of some presidential aspirants are part of the graffiti, the most conspicuous name around the city is that of Water Assistant Minister Ferdinand Waititu, whose “Waititu for Governor” slogan runs alongside those of various senate and county assembly hopefuls in strategic locations.
And as opposed to standing out for the fine art behind them, most of the slogans border on doodles, having been consistently misspelled and later cancelled out with corrections and afterthoughts. For instance, some slogans reading “Waititu for Govener” along Mombasa Road are later effaced with the correct spelling of the same.
Another reading “Oscar for Councilor” is later cancelled out with “Oscar for County Assembly”, presumably after the vandals realised that the councillor title is obsolete under the new Constitution.
Several Nairobi residents interviewed by The Standard On Saturday expressed fury at the way the vandals execute their smearing mission with impunity.
They also lamented the fact that those behind the slogans are now using indelible spray, making it hard for the owners of the affected property to wash away the paintings. Ndolo Ndila, who lives in one of the most defaced neighbourhoods in Imara Daima Estate in Embakasi, says he is baffled and angered by the way the vandals have been executing their mission. “They usually do this very late in the night. We leave the walls clean in the evening but by morning the entire neighborhood is littered with slogans.
Soon after, a rival group may invade and overwrite the slogans with those of their master,” Mr Ndila explains. He says those behind the graffiti should be punished.
“This is criminal and all politicians involved should be charged with degrading the environment, trespassing and damaging private property. I don’t think any politician can promote a rival’s name and so politicians with their names on the graffiti should be arrested and held responsible for this,” Ndila asserts.
Monica Kawira says the perimeter wall and gate to her house in Nairobi’s Donholm estate have been covered in slogans, but her complaints to the City Council have been futile.
“I have equally made efforts to wash away the painting but unlike normal paint, these crooks are using indelible spray, making it impossible for any property owner to remove it.