Elections

March 27, 2013 - Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

This entry is long and only about politics.

End of February, beginning of March. My E-Mail-Inbox started to receive letters of the bureau for foreign affairs. They warned all Germans staying in Kenya, to take very good care of themselves, informed about the possibility of riots and told us to stay inside and wait.

My host-mum prepared for this insecure time by buying food for two weeks. The supermarkets were crowded. Everyone went to buy food. They told us, that even the markets would close down and that there would be no fresh fruit, vegetables or medication-deliveries to the island.

The bus stations were full of people. It seemed as if everyone wanted to leave. AFS Kenya transferred all volunteers who didn’t stay within the island to a new host-family for the whole month of March. They wanted us to stay together, so that it would be easier to get us out of the country in case of violence.

Some of my host-families’ relatives left too, because they are staying in the outskirts of Mombasa, where it’s likely to be dangerous. Of course, my host-mum used this opportunity to get some presents to her family in upcountry. We went to the bus-station together. It was impossible to move. The place was full of people. There were noises and funny smells. And a peculiar way of packing bags on top of the bus.

My host-mum informed me, that the IEBC sacked some of the election-supervisors. This meant that more voters would come to fewer polling stations, because they couldn’t open as many stations as planned.

I came to know, that the major parties (TNA and CORD) went into those counties, where they knew, that the people were likely to vote for the opposite party (because of the tribes). They went there to give the locals money in return for their ID-cards. They promised to give the cards back – after the election. But the news showed pictures of burnt ID-cards. This made it impossible for the people to vote. And in case of a run-off, they wouldn’t have enough time to get new ID-cards. The party was sure of some votes, not counting for the opposite party.

But during all this, my host-family was still positive and not scared. They assured me, everything was fine. They didn’t allow to go outside for this period, but weren’t afraid of any danger.

It was a little confusing for me, to evaluate my own safety. Whom to trust? The development I could observe in the streets or what my Kenyan family told me?

I decided to stay at home. Get to know my third host-sister. She is 15 years old and came home because of the election. She’s attending a boarding school, which is not unusual here.

She is a very lively person. She likes to dance and socialize. And she seems older than she is. Like most of the girls I got to know so far.

On Saturday, 2.3.2013, it was the last chance to campaign. There were people walking in the streets, with drums and other instruments to draw the normal citizens-attention to them. There was only positive energy involved. No one was interested in fighting. They knew that everyone was watching. It was the first time I saw armed soldiers walking up and down the streets in our area. And we could see security-helicopters surveying from above. My host-dad came home late. He dedicated this last official day for campaigning to Uhuru Kenyatta (TNA).

The Sunday church-service was only about praying for safe elections and love. Later this day, we had important TNA-guests and suddenly, the living room transferred into a TNA-room. We glued posters to the wall and arranged everything nicely. Pretending to be totally into TNA and making him proud to welcome my host-dads guests.

My host-mum left early, she had to sleep at the polling-station, where she was supposed to supervise.

Monday, 4.3.2013, the first day I could sleep late, because there was no noise outside. No one dared to go out. The news broadcasted about the polling-stations and the troubles, the IEBC had to face. Voters came early in the morning, some at 3am to avoid the queues. But still, they had to queue until 1 or even 5pm.

There were polling stations that opened late, because the ballot boxes didn’t arrive on time. People have been sent home. They couldn’t vote. Others refused to vote because the IEBC made it too complicated for them. They confused voters with the queues for example.

The result of these long queues was, that they were allowed to come back the next day, to finish voting.

My host-sister went outside to see the streets. They were completely empty. No private car, no Matatu and no Tuk-Tuk. Nothing. I used this moment, to take a picture of the tusks, Mombasa’s symbol. I won’t see Moi Avenue this empty again. I’m sure of that.

The news informed about 6 dead-policemen and injured people in Mombasa and there was Kisumu, a region, were people liked to demonstrate. But this seemed to be all. Any other place was safe.

We had to stay inside all day and the coming days. The TV was the connection to the outside. People were angry, because politicians didn’t have to queue. They just went, placed their vote and left. It was unfair.

The tallying started. And very soon, the number of votes for Raila Odinga and Uhuru went up into the millions. It was prove for what everyone said before. “Why waste your vote on a minor candidate? The only ones who really have a chance are Raila and Uhuru. I want to be part of the decision between them.”

The number of rejected votes was above 300.000. And the IEBC reported that one of the polling stations sent in 7 ballot boxes instead of 6. There were only 6 positions to vote for, there had to be something wrong. Also, rumours came up, saying that TNA-people have hacked into the IEBC-system to manipulate the counting.

Therefore, they started to count again - from scratch and this time manual. But this included, opening the ballot boxes again. This is the moment, where it is easy to cheat. Rumours and gossiping was high in course.

Step by step, the numbers went up. This time round, the rejected votes were in portion. But no one could tell where the former rejected votes had gone to. And the IEBC-chairman delayed the announcing of the results every day. They delayed until Saturday afternoon. Almost a week after the official voting! ‘In the end, Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, Wiliam Ruto won by 50,07%.

This day, we had special food to celebrate the success of my host-dads party.

The next day, very early in the morning, I left to Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania.

Raila Odinga went to court to fight the outcome of this election. And the people’s reaction to the results was not very clear. It seemed reasonable to leave the country. Like all the other AFS-volunteers did one week earlier.

 


Pictures

Host-sisters Birthday
Moi Ave during elections
On the way to Tanzania
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