A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Voting day…news from the ground.

So, D-day is finally here. This has been democracy in action…all the ugliness of the campaign process aside. I didn’t get to vote, much to my disappointment, because I was still in the U.S when the voter registration period ended. I was an official observer though, so I did get a “taste” of the voting experience. I covered polling stations in Kasarani and Embakasi constituencies and I am now back at the office fielding calls/getting reports from our observers who are all over the country. Some quick observations about the day so far…

– I was impressed to see a lot of young people voting…particularly people in their twenties. Perhaps this is just a reflection of Nairobi’s demographics.

– Too early to tell which way the vote is swinging. One “No” agent in Kasarani claimed that “watu wengi wananyonya machungwa (lots of people are sucking on oranges)” though.

– Kenyans take their right to vote very seriously. No wonder the MPs were so quick to shoot down the recall clause during Bomas. There was a sense of civic pride and even jollity at the polling stations where I was present. For majority of Kenyans, this is the only time for their voices and opinions to be heard no matter what their background or social status is…it’s ironic that a process that has been so divisive relies on a mechanism that puts everyone on equal ground. After experiencing how voters in the U.S. have to be practically begged to show up at the polls, it has been refreshing to see people value their right to express themselves at the polls. I spoke to one guy who couldn’t vote because he had lost his I.D. during the registration process…he was so disappointed about not being able to vote and said he felt so left out.

– The polling stations I visited were all in primary schools (e.g. Roysambu Primary, Kayole Primary, Baba Dogo Primary, Thika Road. Primary). Folks, the state of these schools (all in lower income parts of Nairobi) was terrible and depressing. I don’t think any of these schools had been painted, let alone thoroughly cleaned, since they were built. The classrooms are dreadful enough when they are empty, I can’t imagine how much worse it is when school is in session and particularly now that government schools are overcrowded due to the free primary education program. The gap between the haves and the haves-nots is entrenched from the very beginning of one’s life as a Kenyan…very sad.

– The areas I visited were what I’d consider to be the “real” Nairobi. I’d not been to some of these places in years…it was shocking to see what unrestricted and unmanaged construction has resulted in…a true concrete jungle (will try and post pics tomorrow). I don’t recall seeing a green patch of grass ANYWHERE within the residential areas. No open spaces where kids could play, hardly any color apart from commercial billboards, just block after block of shifty looking apartments that look like they took a week to put up.

– I did see something that put a smile on my face though, remember those home-made cars (I forget the sheng word for them) we used to make in the estates especially during Safari Rally…now in my days, you used to endesha them with a contraption made of wires and blada…at Kayole I saw an improvement…black plastic bags tied to the cars that enable the cars to be propelled by the wind…I wish I could have taken some pics, it was pretty neat.

– There are reports that voter turnout was low in Naivasha because workers in the flower farms were not given time off by the employers…I hope someone is investigating this.

– There are also reports of low voter turnout in places where pre-referendum tensions were high. Also reports (unverified as of yet) of Yes people bribing voters with cash in Western Province.

That’s it for now…

EDIT: Another view from the ground.

6 comments to Voting day…news from the ground.

  • the high levels of illiteracy in the rural areas is rather alarming , a good percentage of the voters in these regions did not have a clue on what the vote was all about

  • Mimi

    Thanks for the 411. I think those cars were called ‘safo’

    You are welcome! Actually was mng’ari.

  • I have been trying to vicariously get a feel of how the day really was like by reading Kenyan online dailies with no luck. Thanks for your report, Ory, which is very informative. Thank heavens for bloggers 😀

    You are welcome!

  • Msanii_XL

    Nice post….the dailys don’t just have the feel and like mshairi above i agree.

    M’nga’ngari..was the name of the wire and blada cars..

    Thanks! That was indeed the name of the cars…

  • Njoro

    Thanks for the detailed info. Now we can gloat – at least there’s now the prospect of a much BETTER constitution.
    The reason why Naivasha flower farm workers were not given time off to go vote is because ‘Baks people are either owners or shareholders in those farms and the majority of those workers are staunch Oranges based on tribe (from Nyanza and Western).

    You are welcome!