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Election coverage 24-12-07 + ODM rally

First a response to the comments on my previous posts.

Thanks to everyone who appreciates the election posts. As a rule I don’t feel compelled to defend what I write about on my blog, but I think it is necessary to reiterate (for those who don’t get it for whatever reason) that I’m not interested in repeating news that you can find elsewhere with minimal effort, my focus is on capturing the sentiments of people on the ground (and in the bars).

If you are not interested in “lowly gossip”…eh, si you stop reading? And the fact of the matter is that most of the conversations that people are having have little substance behind them. It’s the nature of the campaign…campaigners on both sides will admit that they have fought hard and the fact that it is going to be a tight race has both camps focusing on anything that will grab the swing voters. Perhaps this is more informative.

Which side I’m voting for is between me and the ECK (I’m voting in Lang’ata). As a cab driver said to me today, “tutakutana na hao-mapoliticians on Dec 27th.” Strange that this is now an ODM blog, because all the “anti-PNU” stories have come from PNU campaign insiders, in fact I made a point of seeking out hardcore ODM guys today to get a different perspective. The fact is the PNU campaign was a mess, and even the most solid Kibaki guy will admit that. I’m just reflecting what’s going on.

OK, done with the disclaimers. I won’t be explaining the content of this blog again anytime soon. That’s why it’s MINE :-)

I probably won’t have time to blog again before Dec 27 so I’ll try and include a pre-vote overview.

So today I went to the ODM rally at Nyayo Stadium. Before I’m picked on again, I’d have loved to be in two places at the same time and attend the PNU rally as well, but since I couldn’t I decided to attend the rally that I thought would be the most interesting. It didn’t disappoint. I got there at about noon and left when it was over. I managed to get hooked up with the a guest pass so I was in the main stand and had a great view. I walked to the stadium from Nairobi West and had no issues at all. The atmosphere was exciting and colorful with a positively giddy crowd – no wonder politicians get hooked on power. Security was tight, though it collapsed towards the end when crowds rushed the dais after Raila spoke. There was no police presence in the stadium though I’m sure there were some plain clothes policemen around. There was lots of entertainment / music and two hilarious guys who imitated Pastor Muiru and Kalonzo stepping down for Raila. There’s a thesis waiting to be done about the role of music in this year’s campaigns it was a very central element of the rally. Even the mugithi song had been changed into an ODM song. And the sukuti guys must be on speed, there’s a ka-group that danced around the stadium the WHOLE time. Oh, before I forget, two poor marabou storks (those big birds around Nyayo) fell victim to the crowd. I don’t even want to know how they were captured but the birds became live mascots for some overzealous guys. It was actually painful to watch the poor things being paraded around.

Other observations – youth are very key in this campaign. Every speaker greeted “vijana” specifically and their role in this campaign is reflected in how engaged people in my peer group are…very very different from when I was here for the referendum. I hope that the youth take on this power beyond the election and keep these politicians on their toes. As I’m writing it’s occurred to me that there’s a whole generation (our parents) that never got to experience real choice as far as politics. Anyway, before I get sidetracked, voter turnout was the main theme of the rally. They even made special announcements for guys who had lost their IDs during the rally.

The rally was mainly a pep rally so there was very little substance discussed. Raila read a long speech that bored guys…people had even started streaming out…the speech outlined how he plans to govern and I think was mainly for the media and undecideds. He is really not good at reading speeches, somebody should work with him on this. At the end of the speech he broke into Swahili and the rhetoric that drives his supporters wild. He announced that the ECK had just authorized 6 new polling stations in Lang’ata (very strange) and urged his supporters to be vigilant about what was going on at the new stations. He spoke in Luo at the end of the rally (pal translated) and reminded the Luos that he has supporters from all over the country and that this election was not just about Luos so they must unite with other Kenyans. He also asked them to remain peaceful and vote for 3-piece in Nairobi even though he was not asking for 3-piece elsewhere in the country.

It was interesting to see who got a lukewarm response from the crowd and who was popular. Ndolo is definitely not popular, neither is Henry Kosgey. Gumo also got a lukewarm response (I hear Betty Tett is leading the polls in Westlands). The crowd went wild for John Kiarie – the young aspirant for Dagoretti. He is a really really good speaker and is going to go far. It was fantastic to see a young articulate person running and working the crowd – I want this to be the norm in 2012. I’m still trying to figure out how Ruto repackaged himself to be a reformer (he should be in jail), but I must admit he’s a good speaker. The women who spoke also got a great response from the crowd – especially Ngilu and Bishop Wanjiru.

All in all it was a good time – my first real campaign rally. I wish I had time to attend more.

Out of time – will try and include some last thoughts before the vote.

Merry Xmas.

AOB: Kikuyumoja’s cool mashup of election symbols.

8 comments to Election coverage 24-12-07 + ODM rally

  • Vincent

    I read your blog every week and would like to say that you are doing a great job. I read the previous blog – “Election coverage 12-12-2007” and there is nothing wrong with what you said. You were only reporting from the ground and giving out the “real” scoop. I wonder what people want you to write about. I have been contributing and reading to nasty and vicious comments on other blogs about elections for the last 6 months. The so called “lowly – gossip” is actually what people are saying on the ground and these are the same people who will be voting on 12/27/07 (people in bars, taxi drivers, boda boda guys etc). For us who live in the Western hemisphere, such stories are critical since they end up determining which politician will be voted for and why. Moreover elections are nothing but dirty propaganda. Someone must have felt jilted since you did not mention PNU aka PANUA. Keep it up and let us know what will happen on the 27th.

  • Ms K

    I know that it was wrong of them to beba those marbou storks, but it was hella funny!!!! Were the birds still alive? I would have killed for that photo!!!

    Merrry Christmas to you and your family, KP.

    Vote wisely (ha ha standard Kenyan greeting now) .

  • Nice one Ory. If I knew you were also at Nyayo I’d have set up a “live blogging” desk so we could post real time updates.
    Kweli you have read my mind about Raila and the speeches. The man is just not comfortable reading from a prepared script. However when he is bantering he is untouchable. Another major strength of Raila is that he is very comfortable answering even the most hostile of questions. You could drop him in a Q and A session in Othaya and he would answer ever question easily, probably with many references to the local people’s lives.
    JK has some formidable campaign advisors. His campaign is slick. He has managed to position himself successfully as both representing the youth and representing “seriousness”. On his posters he is in jeans. On TV depending on the programme he is in t shirts or suits. All very cleverly managed. I am sure you noticed the prominence he was given at the rally. His position ensured he appeared in almost all TV shots in which Raila featured. I think ODM have decided that Dago is a key battle ground (remember Raila urging Uhuru to leave Gatundu and stand in Dago against his cousin in the good old days).
    In Westlands I am hearing about Mueke a lot, who knows eh, he has a massive chance. Kwanza with fence sitters (as far as parliamentary candidates are concerned) such as me.

  • Nice of you Ory to keep us posted on the goings on with the upcoming elections. The fact that you felt the need to respond to your previous scoop just shows how tight this election will be and how seriously Kenyans are taking it.

    I just hope that there will not be any malpractice from either side and that come the 28th we shall all forget the domos and anti-domos and move forward as ONE KENYA.

  • Joseph Otieno

    Nice thing you are doing with the summaries. For us who are not that the ground this is the closest thing that we have. Thanks!
    I could not help but notice a comment you made about Ruto, prior to this election I did not know about him, but I think he is an excellent speaker. Is there anything that I could read more about him and his “tainted past”


  • anon

    Good job girl keep the reports coming, and what’s the story on kenyan asians moving to TZ in fear of violence http://www.ippmedia.com/ipp/guardian/2007/12/27/105091.html

  • […] Kenyan Pundit put an intriguing blog post on Election coverage 24-12-07 + ODM rallyHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  • […] Kenyan Pundit put an intriguing blog post on Election coverage 24-12-07 + ODM rallyHere’s a quick excerpt […]