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Leaders dress the part to win hearts, votes

By Amos Kareithi | March 18th 2015
ODM party leader Raila Odinga

KAJIADO: For many years to come, the events of the last three weeks will be remembered in Kajiado Central constituency, where one of the tightest political battles has just been concluded.

The campaign period saw every hamlet in the vast constituency entertain an endless stream of the high and mighty who traversed the area in their hunt for votes for the two front runners: Elijah Memusi of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Patrick Tutui Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP).

Leading the vote-hunting were their respective commanders, President Uhuru Kenyatta,  who was using the by-election as a dip stick for the newly created JAP and ODM party leader Raila Odinga who was leading the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) forces.

As the political heavyweights tried to sell their policies, the Maasai marketed their regalia and way of life.

When Uhuru visited Namanga, he was given a red beaded shirt, necklace and a belt while Ruto was also given a walking stick.

The same generosity was extended to Raila who received some traditional regalia from his hosts, just like his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula during their respective campaign tours.

As the big guns combed the windswept villages for votes, village butchers had a field day slaughtering goats away from the prying eye of public health inspectors.

They roasted the meat in the bushes without a care for sanitised perfumed water.

The sizzling meat was then placed on leaves cut from dusty shrubs and served to the low and the mighty without discrimination.

The period also offered a rebirth to the Maasai culture where traders sold traditional regalia at premium rates.

The beaded red shirt, which is favoured by men and normally sells at Sh1,500, retailed for Sh4,000. Decorated belts, which hardly go for Sh1,000 went for Sh3,000 in the heat of the campaigns.

As the dust settles in Kajiado Central, residents will for a long time remember how they freely mixed, shared a bite and chatted with their leaders, who eagerly adorned their traditional regalia in their bid to appear as part of the community.

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