Les Miserables: Here’s the reflections of a Kenyan voter
Elections can’t be this bad, or can they? That’s the feeling you are left with every five years when the voting day comes with so much optimism but the whole electoral process ends in confusion. You wonder who actually won the election even when your candidate wins. The feeling is utterly disgusting because as a country, we never seem to get out of this loop of free, fair but ultimately, seemingly rigged elections. Free and fair because voting seems to be a relaxed affair, only for the outcome to be contested.
My neighbor Nancy has been out of the country for the past three months, she’s retired and is now basking in the glory of the Florida sun. All her grown kids live in the US. But she didn’t get there because of the American Dream. She lived every bit of the Kenyan dream, if that’s how we define a successful Kenyan, as a high ranking government official, chauffeured to and from work, and earning retirement perks and excesses of being in government that can afford her the luxury of living in the US and not voting at all. I am left feeding her dogs, I dont like canines, but am just being a good neighbor as long as she buys the little barkers some food. She says she will return when the dust settles, and it has been a month and the dust is nowhere near settling because we are in election wrangling mode. It’s the miserable voter like me who has to endure unstable minded politicians, missteps of an electoral commission, and high inflation in an dampened economy.
When Trump came out in 2020 crying foul in the elections, I said to myself, he must have read the Kenyan election playbook, because there is never a clear winner unless declared by the Supreme Court decision that orders a repeat election or one that upholds an election victory. Elections are always contested in Kenya, one Raila Odinga has contested five times in a row. The man wants to know if he lost fairly, and at 77, he knows this might be his last one.
Raila is a liberator, just like my grandparents who were nowhere close to power let alone the privilege of being prime ministers like Raila and his father, the only two prime ministers in Kenyan history. Like Raila, my grandfather had the markings of torture fighting a repressive regime. My grandfather had a bullet lodged on his shoulder by British colonisers.Raila was tortured and endured inhumane acts under the regime of Kenya’s second president and while many others were gone without a trace, but he survived to be on the presidential ballot five times. There is a reason why many Kenyans are indebted to him just as I am to the sacrifices of my grandparents, and yes would like to reward him with the highest office. But it’s only in Kenya that you are much loved but never steered to the presidency. Because numbers like any aspiring democracy do the talking, and those who fall short realise love is not enough. This might be the reason why the loved and adored will not become president, but again Raila has always faulted the electoral process, and ultimately election rigging. Which is why, for the fifth time in a row, he has the same complaint, and the country cannot move on until the matter is resolved.
The winners of this election are lawyers, in their fine dark robes and theatrics at the highest court, and waiting to smile all the way to be bank. They get to entertain a clueless public who are more than ready to stand in line again to elect these motherfuckers hoping it will do them good. Didn’t they say democracy isn’t rosy after all. A good citizen like me had to be dragged out to vote by my own mother who thinks voting is a sacred duty, only for it to end like this, this is not working. Our cult like following of politicians have gotten us here, and our tribal leanings have made us vote in the worst among us. At this point, I don’t care who becomes president, we have president-elect Ruto, but who cares anymore, there’s always someone who is pulling the strings behind these two, and is out to benefit the most out of either victory. Again, a reason to feel even more miserable, because voting here is inconsequential.
Let me highlight how damaging suspended elections have cost us as a country, the business risk of this quandry makes a low to middle income economy like ours unattractive for business every election cycle. Not to mention the wait and see posture that could drag on a year until things stabilise, and external factors like global inflation and the War in Ukraine. Yes, we are miserable lot, of our own making. We are not a functional democracy, we are who the electoral commission declares the winner, not the will of the people. If Raila is vindicated this time round, he may just show us once more how screwed up we are as a country. Someone may be going to jail.