Senior citizens defy age, failing health to choose preferred leaders

Kikuyu Mbivo, 80, votes at Migwani AIC Primary School in Mwingi West, Kitui County on August 9, 2022. [Paul Mutua, Standard]

Despite their advanced age and failing health, senior citizens were not left behind in voting for their preferred candidates as polls opened countrywide on Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

They said voting was more than a privilege or right but a duty.

The few who turned up at various polling stations had interesting stories to tell, for they have not only witnessed changes in election procedures and technology but also transitions in the presidency.

Mathias Mulongo, 98, was among hundreds of voters who arrived at the Indangalasia Primary School polling station in Matungu Constituency, Kakamega County, to cast his ballot.

He said he was at the polling station by 5am but had to wait for eight hours before he was allowed to vote.

“I am happy because I have never failed to vote since Kenya got her independence," he said.

Mulongo said he voted for the late presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“I will go home and wait for the results a happy man because I have exercised my democratic right,” he said.

In Baringo County, Targok Cheptoo, 102, was ferried to Kimorok Primary School polling station where she voted.

At Ebukhwale village in Khwisero Sub-county, Risper Mukoyo, 108, was brought to Ebukwala polling station on a motorcycle to cast her vote.

“My deteriorating health and age could not deny me a chance to vote, that is why I came here,” she said.

Lawrence Tenai, 84, is assisted to vote at Uhuru Gardens polling station in Mvita, Mombasa County. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

She said the owner of the motorcycle volunteered to take her to the polling station, “and IEBC officials were understanding and let me vote ahead of the rest.”

Ndungu Kibaiya, 78, was stranded at Mogotio town until 10am as he could not walk to Mogotio Primary School to vote.

However, Samoei Tanui, a boda boda operator, assisted him to the polling station without charging him.

Kibaiya said Tanui also bought him tea and mandazi.

"I did not queue because my legs are weak and I was also assisted to vote," he said.

Among the Belgut residents who turned out to vote at Machorwa polling station was 100-year-old Nehemiah Birgen.

Birgen said he had participated in almost every general election over the decades and could not miss a chance to vote in this year's polls.

The great grandfather of 70 children, who walks with the aid of a walking stick, was out of respect allowed to jump the queue.

He said he had turned out to fulfil his duty of electing candidates he believes can lead the country to prosperity.

"What I want is for the country to have good leaders who will fulfil the election pledges,” said Birgen.

At Chuka township in Chuka/IgambaNgombe Constituency, Rose Thieri, 75, complained about the slow voting process at the station where Jane Kanya, 93, also cast her vote.

Charity Ruguru Karindi, 93, casts her ballot at Kiamugumo Primary School in Gichugu, Kirinyanga County. [Andrew Simon, Standard]

Before voting at Sagana Primary School in Nyeri County, Kenya Kwanza deputy presidential candidate Rigathi Gachagua assisted his aunt Gladys Gathoni, 91, who was confined to a wheelchair, to cast her ballot.

Samuel Mcharo, 79, from Mombasa, said he woke up at 4am to go and vote.

“I didn't even take tea in the morning. I decided to come and vote first before doing anything,” he said.

After casting his vote, Mcharo left the station for home, where he said he would follow proceedings from the rest of the country on TV. 

“I will be watching TV in my house to see what is happening in other parts of the country,” he said.

IEBC officials gave vulnerable groups preferential treatment to exercise their democratic and constitutional rights to elect leaders of their choice. Susan Warombo, who is living with a disability, said she was happy to vote. 

[Report by John Shilitsa and Daniel Chege, Julius Chepkwony and Renson Mnyamwezi]