Friday, December 07, 2012

We are what we are.

If it was not for the strange feeling that we were getting punk'd, Kenyans would go "Meh!" and switch to another channel. But this siasa business is getting off to an exciting start. It has been clear for some time that there are few Kenyan politicians with the "It Factor": Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. Never mind their core supporters, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua, Moses Wetangula, Raphael Tuju, Charity Ngilu, Eugene Wanalwa and Musalia Mudavadi just don't command the same kind of fanaticism that the three do. Between the three of them, they command at least three-quarters of the national vote, if Messrs Infotrak/Harris & Co. are anything to go by.

Ahmed Issack Hassan is a worried man. Kenyans have done what Kenyans are wont to do. They are keeping to their own schedule when it comes to the process of registering to vote. Now, some speculate that Kenyans will simply wait until the penultimate day and then turn up in an impatient horde and demand swift service. This is after all, one of our "peculiar" habits. We last-minute everything. Think of the countless times Kenyans have demanded that Death Certificates and Burial Permits be issued on the day that we intend to inter our loved ones. Received wisdom has it that we will simply wait until the 18th and decide that we want to vote so we'll do everything in our power to make the IEBC pay for their rather foolish thought that they could successfully complete voter registration in thirty days.

However, there is an insurrectionist thought that sees this as the first time we are getting a true picture of exactly how many voters there really are. Mr Hassan thinks that by the end of the exercise, going by current trends, we will only register 12 million voters. If this is so, then this must be the true number of voters to be harangued by the likes of Messrs Odinga, Kenyatta and Ruto. With the BVRs, the likelihood of the dead turning up and actually voting has diminished significantly. I dare say it has been eliminated, but I will not bet against a canny Kenyan who'll certainly find a way of registering the dead and getting them to vote. Elections are too important in the scheme of Kenyan things to left simply to the living. I wouldn't bet against an event of such importance that the BVRs will all simultaneously malfunction and voting will have to be completed using manual rolls, either.

The shenanigans surrounding the question of whether Mr Kenyatta is being forced to step down in favour of Mr Mudavadi point to the fraught nature of voting in Kenya. There is a die-hard mentality among Mr Kenyatta's cheering section and they may yet do something completely outrageous just to see their champion best all others at the hustings. So too might the Raila Damu Brigade. Kenya has always done things its own way, and the 2013 elections will be so.

While many African countries inter-spaced military dictatorships with short stints of pseudo-democracy, we have always relied on the rigged election to choose our presidents. Now, we've only had the three, but other than the 2002 general election, there isn't a pundit worth his newspaper column who thinks that all other elections were not exercises in outright election thuggery run amok. Kivuitu & Co. were really not to blame for the shambles that were the 2007 general election; they were simply doing what Kenyans had always done. Rig, steal and kill in the name of elections. Now if Mr Hassan thinks we are simply going to vote like normal voters, he really needs a shrink to remind him of the reality that is the Kenyan election.

Of course, I could be wrong. The BVRs will work like magic. 18 million voters will turn out for registration, will vote peaceably and will peaceably go about their business while the next tenant at State House is choosing the curtain fabric and testing his butt on Baba Mi's old chair. Mr Hassan and the IEBC will become national heroes, their status as honest brokers burnished by a flawless process. Willy Mutunga's Judiciary, after months of planning, will process with alacrity the petitions that will be filed by the few disgruntled losers who'll bother to go to court. The 1st Parliament of the Second Republic will rubber-stamp the President's public appointments and Kenya will set off into a bright new dawn confident that Vision 2030's goals will be fully realised. This time next year, we may be complaining that Kenya has become dull and sedate because everyone is on their best behaviour. We live in hope after all as Kenyans are wont to do!

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