Election day is here, last minute campaigns still going on. So, I am standing in this long queue at CCU, waiting to cast my vote. So far so good but the place is a mess. Posters, fliers, little pieces of papers strewn all over the floor. It had rained the previous night so posters are stuck on the floor, in walls, on trees: practically everywhere. There are goons with whips (nyaunyo) forcing names on my face and shoving small pieces of papers with names of guys to vote for.
I am in a queue and the majority are first years. The are excited as they are relaxed, waiting to get inside and practice their first democratic right in the institution. Sadly, at this point, a guy goes up to one of the quiet guys on the line and forces him to vote for his candidate literary. Oh, wait there is a lady too!Asking, pleading and smiling to guys to have them vote for a certain candidate.
A few hours ago I heard that there was tension in Chiromo over ballot papers but am yet to confirm it. I am inside the voting area now.I see two of my Literature lecturers in the hall. One picks my student I.D and a student Commissioner verifies my name on a list, picks the student I.D from mwalimu and asks me to go ahead and vote. There are four armed policemen in the hall. Two are having lunch as one is overseeing the voting process.The University is ensuring that these elections will be peacefull even if it means guns in the vicinity to maintain order. It reminds me of a phrase that its not that the University administration doesn't trust us, it does, it is the election 'devil' they do not trust.
There are observers all around and the voting space has been reduced to a square, not larger than 8meters in length. The ballot papers come in various colours for the different candidates. It was a smooth process I voted, got my small left finger inked and walked out, in less than 5 minutes . The rest of the voting went on well, and last time I heard, the votes were being tallied at A.D.D.
Voting despite the noise, peer pressure and at times coercion is a Secret Affair. I may agree to vote for so and so but when inside, vote my choice. I bet there was betrayal, change of thought, commitment during the election but above all it was a Secret Affair!
Friday, April 27, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
As we go to the Polls...
April 27th is the date for the SONU Elections. To those familiar with Campus elections, know that this is a time for the loudest, meanest and 'wealthiest' comrades to flex their 'political' muscle. The few who have great manifestos and ideas they hope to champion are drowned in this 'wrestling'. Interestingly, almost three quarters of those vying in main campus are my classmates in particularly my Political Science class.
However, the most outstanding thing about this election is that most of those campaigning for the SONU positions were in some way either directly or indirectly involved in the past two-three elections. How? They were either clerks, goons or even office holders in the past government. So we have like a recycling of leaders in the Student Leadership.
It raises the question, aren't there over 30,000 students who can run and even win these elections and not the same guys all over again. Well, the truth is, there are...many, myself included. What then is stopping me, and the many others from taking up these positions, and especially the ladies? First I think its the setting in which these campus politics are rolled out. This is because, there are sadly, tribal factions that will terrorize you, pull down your posters, ask for bribes to leave you posters overnight, want a bribe for your safety and a lot more under dealings for your chance 'to eat of the Campus Pie'
My Principle of persuasion lecturer challenged us on time in class as to why as his students, we shy away from leadership. Something came out clear after the three hour discussion, that not everyone of us has to be in the limelight. Not everyone of us have to seen to be recognized as leaders because in essence we are all leaders in our own right. However what separates leaders, good leaders at that, from pseudo-leaders is servant-hood. Here, my definition of servant-hood is an ordinary comrade who does not have to don an oversize/ tight Marc Spencer Suit in order to address a crowd. A leader who will not spend the entire night going through a dictionary to cram and the next day, squeeze and jumble up archaic jargon leaving their listeners perplexed (its intentional) than understood. My idea of a servant leader is one who can clearly differentiate between the rights of a student in campus from the purported privileges they hope to give unto us if we give them our vote. It is not our privilege to have clean hostels (most are by the way, in the mornings though) but our right so when a leader says they will ensure hostels are clean, it leaves me wondering if they intend to do it themselves. The cleaning that is.
Leadership is about setting a trail, being an example. It is about walking in our shoes and knowing where the shoe pinches and not being the 'unreachable'. The University churns out brilliant minds each year to a waiting nation. I personally think we do a disservice to the University of Nairobi if during the elections, we witness violence, slander, bribery, deceit, corruption, hatred and vilest of them all tribalism. As a student of the largest think tank in the country, I take the responsibility to talk about these issues, I take the responsibility to vet the guys who push to you their election nomination papers to sign, I take the responsibility to challenge my classmates to be critical on who they pledge their support to, I take the responsibility to sober up my comrades whose thoughts are dictated by their 'charismatic' kinsmen, I take the responsibility to go to the polls on Friday the 27th of April. To vote, not for a classmate who reserves me the front seat, or the one we are with in my discussion group, or from my region...but a leader, a servant leader who Suits, funny postures and nonsensical words do not define him, whose size and heaviness of his pocket are not important. One who will accept defeat, accept opposition, accept correction and accept to learn and most of all accept to be a servant leader.
Is it possible?
The Nominees for the BAKE Awards 2012 are out!!
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