On the fourth day of the official voter registration period, I was among the few people queuing outside an IEBC registration desk in my neighbourhood. I managed to squeeze in a few minutes off my crazy morning routine to participate in the process and ensure my name appears in the national voters roll.
While I queued, flashes of past elections kept playing in my mind.
Just two years ago, I remembered feeling proud of having been part of history by being among the 12 million registered voters who participated in the once a lifetime chance to vote for or against a new constitution.
The previous election, the infamous 2007/2008 jinxed presidential ballot was one that several faced with gusto! As I stood there awaiting my chance to be registered, I felt a cold shiver!
A sudden feeling of betrayal overwhelmed me. Why was I going to go through this again? I’m I ready to feel cheated again? But then again, I consoled myself with the mere fact that just like betrayal in a love relationship, I had no option to pick myself up, shake off the dust and ready myself to meet the next ‘prince charming’.
The issue is, I have not forgotten about my ugly relationship experience with the 2007/2008 general election, but I’m alive to the reality that my vote is the only weapon to elect credible leaders to steer our beloved country to prosperity.
As famously quoted by one of Kenya’s illustrious sons, Dr P.L.O Lumumba, “I have refused to remain in Egypt. It is time to head to Canaan”. It is the right of every Kenyan therefore to exercise their democratic right, through the principle of universal suffrage by electing leaders that would guide them to the promised land of ‘Canaan’.
Shuffling the cards on the table, it seems Kenyans are spoilt for choice in the 2013 poll. As the country readies to mark her Golden Jubilee, the stakes are even higher with more elective positions. And those seeking the positions are as many as the country’s collective experiences over the last five decades. They have come in all shades, black, brown, coloured, fat, thin, tall, ladies and gentlemen alike. But are we really spoilt for choice?
Like many Kenyan voters who have faced heartbreaks in the past, I have learnt to have a very strict benchmark when it comes to selecting the next CEO for the country. I sometimes cannot help but feel like chicken ready for slaughter on a Christmas eve. The chicken will always be lured with corn to their caller’s left hand while the right hand waves a sharpened knife ready for the kill. In this case, like many Kenyans, I feel my vote makes me lucrative for those seeking leadership, calling while dangling knives for the kill.
I’m saying no! My right to vote will not be abused by men and women who will woo my vote with expensive looking packages and well-crafted speeches, often targeting soft spots like gender, ethnicity and religion.
This is the time for Kenyans to wake up to the daunting issues that face the nation. Millions of our Kenyan youths cannot access job opportunities due to patronage and perennial corruption. The level of security is wanting and threatening not only to individual households and businesses, but Kenya’s sovereignty from foreign acts of terrorism.
The country is still on the map and risks possible isolation should it take an undesired path of electing persons facing war crime charges from the 2007/2008 experience. Economic prosperity cannot be realised if we as a nation blind ourselves to these issues.
Let us elect leaders who will address these plaguing issues that will determine our collective destiny, as opposed to candidates playing to our emotions for mercy as though Kenya is short of credible people who can ascend to leadership.
My fellow Kenyans, let us vote in leaders who will restore our confidence in the authority of the ballot, boost Kenya’s image in the international arena and overall, guide the nation to the next level of development. In so doing, we will be safeguarding the integrity of the constitution we waited almost 50 years to write.
The writer is a media consultant with Lisha Communication Services. firstname.lastname@example.org