Getting Kenya’s youths to register as voters, determine their destiny

November 24, 2016 11:12 am
US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec sits next to a member of the music group Sauti Sol/LABAN WANAMBISI
US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec sits next to a member of the music group Sauti Sol/LABAN WANAMBISI

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 24 – “Almost everything that is great has been done by the youth. In youth we learn; in age we understand,” is the statement that welcomes you as browse the website of ‘NiShow Power’, an organisation pioneered to make voting easier for the youth by simplifying and demystifying voter registration and elections.

‘NiShow Power’ Founder Muthoni Ndonga says the motivation behind registering the initiative whose aim is to ensure youths turn up to register as voters and subsequently cast their votes in the next year polls, was triggered by the Kenya Films and Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua.

Ndonga or ‘Muthoni, the Drummer Queen’ as she is known in the entertainment scene told an attentive audience of how Mutua’s proposed amendments to the laws governing classification and licensing of film, stage plays and publications made her realise how youth apathy to the electioneering process was denying them an avenue to influence decisions that affect them.

“For me my turning point came because I am an artiste.  When Ezekiel Mutua decided that he wants to make radical changes to the Film Act and among the proposals includes submission of scripts to him, to personally approve your script that was my turning point. You know what if you don’t stand and make voice be heard and be powerful this guys are just going to keep acting a fool and one day we will wake up in the morning and find that we need to write a letter to approve your sneezing, it’s not a joke,” she said.

“For us Nishow Power is not meant to be soft or encouraging. We are not encouraging, we are demanding. The first person we are demanding it from is you, to get involved and pick people who understand your issues, if you don’t someone else will and you will continue lamenting over missed opportunities and misplaced priorities.”

The artiste was among a galaxy of local musicians who attended the launch of the initiative which was held at the Louis Leakey Auditorium, National Museums of Kenya.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) managed to net 1.4 million new voters during its mass voter registration falling short of their four million target.

According to data from IEBC, Nairobi County had the highest number of applications for registration of eligible voters followed by Kiambu, Kisumu and Kakamega.

Kajiado, Marsabit, Tana-River, Narok, Migori, Kiambu and Siaya were the only seven counties that managed to get over 50 per cent of the targeted voters.

On the other hand Elgeyo Marakwet, Taita Taveta, Embu, Kilifi, and Vihiga obtained less than 25 percent of the set targets

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec lauded the campaign to mobilise youth in the country to register as voters ahead of next year general elections.

Godec said the campaign targets the youth and other members of the public who missed out in the recently concluded mass voter registration exercise.

“The United States strongly supports democracy and youth voting, but we don’t endorse any particular party; so NiShow Power is not about specific candidates or political parties. That decision is yours, that decision is the decision of every voter in Kenya.”

“NiShow Power is about democracy and it’s about young people. It is about giving young people the opportunity to build the future they want.”

He went on to recount the advice US President Barack Obama spoke about the potential of Kenya’s youth when he visited the country in 2015.

“I believe there is no limit to what you can achieve. Your vote matters. Youth have power – the power to vote and take part constructively, peacefully in your democracy. Because of Kenya’s progress, because of your potential, you can build your future right here, right now.”

The campaign also brought on board popular local musicians such as Juliani, Octopizzo, Sarabi, and Sauti Sol.

“For us the youth, voting is not about bringing change, it is economics. So I will vote if you tell me that my vote means I get equal chance of get a tender to supply a government department with goods. That is what voting to us is about, it is not about all these things you are all saying here,” Juliani said.

Nanjira added: “I think the biggest lie that we have been told is that voting is just an event. It is that day, showing up, getting the pink thing, putting it on Instagram or Twitter and then go home. But elective politics is so fundamentally flawed in how it is organised.”



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