I've voted in every election since independence, says grandma, 91

Emily Kalya, 92, turned up to vote at St Francis Cheptarit Primary school polling centre in Chesumei, Nandi county. [Edward Kosut, Standard]

A 91-year-old grandmother who has voted in every election since the 1960s, was among the over 12 million who voted in Tuesday’s elections.

Emily Kalya, the mother of former Nandi Senator Gerald Kalya, voted at St Francis Cheptarit Primary School polling centre.

Accompanied by her son Wilson Kalya, Emily walked to the polling station aided by a walker.

“Many things have changed compared to our youthful days. People have the freedom to elect their leaders,” she said.

She reminisced about the post-colonial period, saying the election procedures were not complicated back then. Leaders were essentially elected through acclamation, appointment or mlolongo, she said.

She said she was probably one of the oldest voters in this year’s elections.

“Most of the voters I saw today are the age of my children and grandchildren, but age doesn’t disadvantage me from fulfilling my civic duty. I’m proud seeing them elect their leaders,” she said.

She was assisted to mark the ballot papers to elect her preferred leaders, whom she said she has known since the campaigns started.

“I can read and I am up to date with current affairs. Many people might be wondering if I know those who are contesting. I had my own choice of candidates, we have met on many occasions and I liked their political agenda for this country and our children,” she affirmed.

Emily urged the young generation only to elect leaders who are development oriented.

Wilson said his mother has never missed any election, and she has been so concerned with politics and community development.

“She cannot walk without a walking aid, but she insisted that she wanted to vote,” he said.

Wilson said his mother is a patriot.

In Trans Nzoia, Fred Omusee, who is living with disability, is a happy person after he was assisted to vote at Kitale’s Railway polling station.

Omusee said it was hectic to crawl and enter the polling station.

“Because of my physical challenges, making it to the polling station was hectic, but I managed, and I’m happy that I voted,” Omusee told The Standard.

Special stations

He said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials allowed him to vote instead of queuing like other voters.

“It is a privilege for me to be allowed to vote without queuing. I thank officials for the favour,” said Omusee.

He urged IEBC to consider establishing special polling stations to cater for people with disabilities.

“There is need for IEBC to create special polling stations for people with disabilities. This will provide us with a friendly environment,” said Omusee.

At Racecourse, Jael Olmunai, 100, appealed for peace during and after the elections. Ms Olmunai said it was the right of every individual to vote.

She said she has participated in elections during the tenures of presidents Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.