On the morning of 27th December 2007, I woke up bright and early, filled with excitement because I was a 20 year old young lady, about to vote for the first time ever. My voters card was my ticket to elect the leaders of my choice, to make my voice be heard and to exercise my constitutional right to vote.
We got to Madaraka Primary School, which was my polling station, at about 8am, and the long queue stretched until Swing House at Junky. As we lined up, voters kept passing us with big bright smiles on their faces, beaming with pride and hoping that the people they had voted for would emerge victorious.
My father and I lined up for what felt like forever, it was exhausting. When the queue was finally within the school, the line was snaking past the lavatories. It being a public school, the stench emanating from the toilets was unbearable. I honestly just wanted to give up and go to the car hoping that my father’s vote will count for the both of us.
But I soldiered on, having given up on holding my breath, and inhaling the ammonia like fumes, knowing that this suffering would somehow be worth it as I embarked on what I deemed as a huge milestone in my young life.
When I finally got to the voting booth, I remember randomly selecting my councillor since I had no idea who the candidates were. My choice for Member of Parliament was based on change, and my choice for President was based on choosing the lesser evil that I knew rather than the one I did not know.
I left the polling station already feeling victorious because I had played a part in a historic event that had occurred in my country.
The results start trickling in, with various disparities and that was the beginning of the end. One dramatic press conference and a hurried inauguration later, and pap, we have a new president and violence sparks across the country like wild fire.
Lucky for us suburbia was very peaceful, but chaos erupted in various parts of Nairobi and the rest of the country. That was the one time I was glued to the news, hoping not to miss a minute of the action.
During that period, all I felt was fear, shock, horror, disappointment, and gratefulness. I was not in a healthy state of mind, no wonder that was the day I started dating my ex, go figure :p
The entire country was in turmoil and anguish, it was truly a horrible time for Kenya. People forgot they were Kenyans first, and the member of a particular tribe second. Blood was shed, lives were lost, property was destroyed and people lost their homes and their livelihood.
Personally, I felt like my vote did not count. The people I voted for were either not elected or were accused of rigging. It became evident that those in power will do everything they can not to relinquish that power and make things work in their favour. Standing next to a stinking toilet for almost more than an hour had proved to be futile and a freaking waste of my time.
I actually vowed never to vote again. Right now I have no idea whether I will still stick to that vow or not. But my plan is/was to start a travel fund to be out of Kenya in December 2012. The balance is currently Kshs. 0.
I did not participate in voting for the new constitution. I made no effort to even get registered, but I did attempt to read some parts of the proposed new constitution. I had none of that hope and pride that people had when they got registered, and eventually voted, waving their purple pinky swag with pride. I viewed the whole process as a waste of time because like I said previously, those in power will manipulate their results in their favour, just like the 2007 elections.
Turns out I was wrong, people voted peacefully, and the new constitution was implemented. This gave me some hope that our election process is not completely flawed. It is the reason why I am now rethinking my vow.
I have not really decided if I will vote come 2012. The strongest reason that would compel me to do it is if someone I know was vying for a seat. Yes, feel free to insert your judgement here!
Otherwise, going by the by-elections that have taken place this year, the leaders who are openly corrupt and stupid will always be voted back in.
Fresh new faces will most probably vie for seats because they also want a piece of that seemingly delicious cake that our MPs have been greedily feasting on.
The people who honestly want change are very few, and it is difficult to judge whether they are being sincere or not.
Impunity prevails in our country and parliament keeps making terrible and selfish decisions without taking the common mwananchi into consideration.
These factors compel me to stay true to my vow. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, KPLC Kenya Power and Lighting Company has switched it off.
2012 is still very far away, the world might end, I may fly off to the Maldives Islands or I may even decide to vote. We will never know till we get there…