Anxious mood defines most Kenyans ahead of unpredictable polls

With the approaching General Election, it is beginning to feel like the clock is fast ticking towards the end of time. The anxiety in the country is palpable, like it is almost Armageddon.

These last few days to elections almost feel like an apocalypse is almost upon us. Everyone is on edge and behaving as if the prophecies about the world coming to an end are just about to get fulfilled in a matter of days. Like some modern-day oracle has convinced us all that the day we all proceed to the after world is nigh – and we are now just counting down to the D-Day.

It is typical of how we treat elections this side of the world, though. At the moment, everything else is being put on ice, put off until ‘we see how these elections go’. As if the election will change anything, besides giving us a new set of leaders or handing a fresh mandate to some of the current ones.

Yet, it generally feels like the elections are a matter of life and death for all of us. This is not what the proponents of the constitutional review made it look like when they successfully pushed for us to be distracted with the creation of the other elective positions, so that there would not be too much riding on the presidency.

No wonder the National Security Advisory Committee has recently announced that it is beefing up security in parts of the country in the country. Embassies are also issuing advisories restricting movement of their personnel in certain parts of the country ‘out of abundance of caution’, for fear of violent election-related protests.

There have also been reports of hate leaflets circulating in some areas too. This just goes to show how strongly some of us feel about the election.

The pollsters are not making it any better. The same voting population sampled by different polling firms using whatever formula are returning completely different outcomes. Of course, there have been instances where the final result at the ballot has turned out to be completely different to what the opinion polls were saying, in this country and even other parts of the world. However, with every result that places one candidate ahead of the other, it hardens the belief in the respective camps and their supporters that they are in the pole position. This will create hardliners, who will find it difficult to accept a contrary outcome.

Perhaps, the disquiet about what the impending elections hold could have something to do with the country’s past experience at the polls. Disputed election outcomes in the past have led to violence and destruction of property or drawn-out electioneering processes involving the intervention of the courts that has the country at a standstill.

Still, it does not make sense why supporters of candidates, particularly, could feel so strongly about an outcome as to want to lay down their lives and be ready to be used. It does make sense for the candidates because they have skin in the game and are in it for themselves and their interests, most of the time. The truth is that irrespective of who eventually is sworn into office, for the presidency or the other positions, not much will change in our lives.

When the dust eventually settles, normalcy will set in. Life will continue. Everyone will still have to get out and hit the grind, irrespective of who carries the day.

But we forget easily and believe the candidates’ stump speeches too much. Or we think that because we come from the same side of the country, the top position would be ‘ours’ in a way. We just do not learn that positions are

Despite the anxiety, the truth of the matter is that the world will still be here even after the elections. Let us all slow down with all the hardline stances and passions about our preferred candidates. To borrow a common phrase in past elections, let us just be prepared to accept the outcome and move on.

In the meantime, vote wisely!

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 @butunyi

 

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