Do Kenyans know what they are voting for?


Well football lovers, it’s about that time of the month when you feel like you could turn back the hands of time and go back to the frenzy that was.

Oh well, as it is with every other good thing, this World Cup season is over, and welcoming us back to the harsh if not monotonous reality, is the IIEC with their endless adverts on every media available.

Well after agonising over the loss of Ghana, and thanking the stars for not being stabbed or thrown off balconies, my colleagues and I happened to veer off this highly emotional topic, thanks to one of those IIEC advertisements, and started talking about the Constitution. I was shocked to find out that among the group, none had read the draft Constitution. To add insult to injury, we had a copy right in front of us and the most any of us did was to pick it up, leaf through it, and toss it back to the table.

I observed with growing interest, that the only exciting thing about the topic was the hope of a holiday. As absurd as it may sound, for some Kenyans out there, August 4 signifies a YES for Siesta and a very strong NO to Work. In fact, if voting days could be added, the better for most.

Why you may ask, despite the numerous campaigns that are being carried out countrywide? Well thanks to our statisticians, approximately 80 percent of Kenyans are said to be “educated.” In all its ambiguity, the word can mean totally different things from primary education, to PhD level it is all termed as one, implying that there’s no real measure of what being educated really means. And out of these educated people, about seven percent have read the draft Constitution.  Note read; not understood! That, I am sorry to point out, would be the elderly population. The youth on the other hand, for whatever reason, have not bothered reading it, save for leafing through the document which unfortunately cannot be termed as reading.

Now back to the understanding part. 

The observation I made as I attempted to read this document is that the words used there are mostly law jargon which read like the King James Version of the Bible that requires a lot of patience and diligence to get through a verse, let alone a chapter. It is then not surprising that I was lost in between jargon like hitherto, subject to and articles of. Taking into account that most urbanites know quite a bit of English and it is still difficult for them to clearly understand a big part of the draft, how is it then that someone in the grassroots is expected to comprehend what the whole Constitution is about? In addition to this, it is translated to the Wahenga Kiswahili that only Nimrod Taabu and the lucky few can understand. Most of it sounds like tongue twisters.

If the educators themselves cannot translate this into their mother tongue what criteria is being used to measure the understanding of Kenyan citizens?
Throw in the politicians who have lost focus in the whole process, and are singling out only few sections that they are sure will cause all the controversy they need to sway their constituents plus educators who do not know what they are talking about and voila you have a confused Kenyan who ends up losing interest in the whole process, and the end result is not as near accurate as it was meant to be.

it is with these observations that I am quite convinced that whether the Katiba passes or not, it will not totally be because of the famous 3 J’s, but a matter of who made the best campaign against the other. The real question therefore is not which side you are voting for, but do you know why you are voting? 

(Beatrice Mutuku is a Human Resource Assistant at QTE Ltd)

One Reply to “Do Kenyans know what they are voting for?”

  1. Board assumes self sponsored student and even do not post their names on time to know if they have been awarded the helb loan.please do something.

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