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Goodies politicians are giving away in vote-hunting frenzy

By Boniface Gikandi and Kepher Otieno | Published Fri, April 21st 2017 at 00:00, Updated April 20th 2017 at 22:51 GMT +3
A Match box with Joseph Mbai photograph which he distributed to more than 200,000 homes during his senatorial campaigns in Murang'a county.PHOTO:BONIFACE GIKANDI

Unlike before when posters and billboards were the main means for candidates vying for different seats to get their message across, this year’s campaign has brought in a new dimension.

The aspirants have gone out of their way to hammer the point home by using innovative ways to sell their policies.

Some political hopefuls have chosen to emblazon groceries with their photos and campaign mantras as the season of political games enters the homestretch.

Others are donating foodstuff and clothes draped in their campaign posters as a way of popularising their candidature.

In Mt Kenya region, aspirants are leaving nothing to chance as the nomination day finally arrives.

A senatorial aspirant in Murang’a, for example, has been distributing matchboxes with his photograph and this has been a subject of discussion in nearly all forums.

A sample of two kilogramme packet of certified maize that governor Mwangi wa Iria distributed to more than 210,000 households in Murang'a last month. The purpose, he said was to support food security strategies at household level.PHOTO:BONIFACE GIKANDI

Unique entry

Joseph Mbai, who is seeking to replace Kembi Gitura, has distributed nearly 200,000 matchboxes with his portrait.

“I used the matchbox as a unique entry into politics and it was widely accepted. This is how many people came to know of my candidature.

I had also served as a chief officer in charge of health and interacted with many people,” Mbai said.

In the period leading up to the nominations, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria has been distributing maize seeds with his photograph.

Iria distributed the seeds to more than 210,000 households in Murang’a last month. The purpose, he said, was to support food security strategies at the household level.

The move to distribute these seedlings, bought by the county government, with his photograph on the pack has drawn criticism from his political rivals but Iria has stood firm.

“There is nothing wrong with my picture being on the products supported by my administration,” he said.

Another aspirant who has decided to do his campaign differently is George Maara, who is vying for the Limuru parliamentary seat.

Maara recently gave locals branded loaves of bread and packets of salt.

The products had his portrait and the name and symbol of Jubilee Party whose ticket he hopes to bag in today’s primaries.

Over in Nyanza, creativity and innovation have also spiced up campaigns in the region.

Some aspirants have gone a notch higher to re-brand the Orange Party in a way that is unprecedented in its scale and style.

They are hoping to make the orange “juicier’’, relevant and active in the hyper-competitive political scene.

In Karachuonyo, one of the aspirants, Anderson Ojwang, has come up with a matchbox slogan, saying he will be the source of light for the people of Karachuonyo if elected.

Mr Ojwang said he chose a matchbox because it  has to be in every household.

“To cook a meal, every family in these rural areas must use a matchbox. This is why I am distributing branded matchboxes,” he said.

His slogan is “Osemoke“ meaning it has been lit.

One of the branded blankets Kisumu Town East MP, is distributing to his supporters a head of the party nominations. The blanket has his name printed on it. Pictures/ Courtesy

Extreme measures

Ojwang has been going around the constituency donating lorry loads of matchboxes bearing his campaign insignia and brand slogan Osemoke to mean the region has started to see the light.

The slogan has been well received and loathed in equal measure. Some see the concept of Osemoke as a prelude to stoke fire while others say match boxes are not a solution to their problems.

Some aspirants have however, gone to the extreme, distributed underwear branded with their names and slogans.

Kisumu woman representative aspirant Rose Nyamunga also has some tokens of art for her campaign materials.

She is giving away bags, handkerchiefs, scarves and kangas; all branded in her name and political party of her choice.

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