SECTIONS

Real champions of this year's election offer hope for Kenya

KIEMS kit in use at a polling station on August 9, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

To avoid writing about elections for a massive two months was a feat of momentous proportions. I have however always been convinced that Kenyans over-engage in political discourse to the point of wasteful obsession.

Granted that politics impacts so much in our lives, we must learn to acknowledge that here is much more to life, to the world, to our country, beyond politics.

The political season is slowly coming to an end with its cliffhanger results and the contests between the official IEBC Returning Officers and the Social Media ones, with the latter having called most elections on the first night, some even before counting started!

This week, I want to focus away from the elections’ major players and celebrate the untold heroes of Elections 2022.

My first post-election bouquet goes to Kenyans, including those who refused to come out and vote, for a peaceful campaign.

Though it cost us some precious lives, and the occasional limb, it was nothing compared to previous elections.

On election day, and the days thereafter Kenyans have largely been peaceful, relegating their passions to social media streets.

Of course there have been some unfortunate exceptions.

My second bouquet goes to the Kenyans who turned up and voted. If there is anything that the low turnout in this election said, it is that Kenyan voters are generally discontented with the impact of electoral choices on their general well-being.

They sent that message home by staying away. I celebrate the more than 60 per cent Kenyans who refused to give in to the despair and who still believe that their vote makes a difference. Because it does.

My third bouquet goes to IEBC officials. I do not mean the suited crew at ornate and carpeted Bomas of Kenya. I mean the thousands of largely young presiding officers and polling clerks who stayed awake some for more than 36 hours working nonstop in dark and dusty classrooms to deliver a credible election.

There was one young lady in Kirinyaga’s Kutus Primary stream 3 whose image makes me shed a tear.

At 4am, she had been awake for nearly 30 hours and at some point, she literally fell asleep standing up handing over ballots for counting.

We pleaded with her to rest, but she insisted on going until she finally collapsed. She then she slept for about 15 minutes and then woke up and proceeded.

I wish I had taken her name to appreciate her personally; she represents for me the reason why there is hope for Kenya.

And let me say this, Kenyans are generally honest people.

I visited numerous polling stations and realised that elections are easy to compromise between the hours of 3am and 5am on election night during counting. 

Everyone is tired and sleepy including all agents. But somehow those awake look out even for their opponents, appropriately allocating the right candidates’ ballots even when their agents are missing or asleep. This is the untold story of Kenya. The final bouquet goes to the police officers.

Most of them stayed up in continuous work for up to 7 days hardly getting time for a bite other than soda and bread.

In parts of the country, it was raining, and these souls braved the rains, mud and sludge to deliver the election.

And when things went slightly wrong, we mercilessly harangued them and then proceeded to our homes for bed and breakfast.

Of course, there are some worms among the security sector, but they are a minority. This election, with the exception of some drama including some in my adopted county, made me pause and think, there is hope.  I pray that the remaining days do not contaminate what was otherwise a great achievement for Kenya.

-The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya