Elections in Kenya: a new wave of political hope
|August 08th, 2017|
|tags:||elections, Kenya, Picha Mtaani, Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta|
Yet again, the election drums are beating and political candidates are campaigning tirelessly to ensure their triumph. Three voter types stand out; the one who is keen and well-educated about the power of his or her vote, the one who is awaiting the benefits of electoral corruption and the one who is either civically educated or not but is focused on purely voting along tribal lines.
However, it is refreshing to note that a new political wave of hope is sweeping through the country. Years of poor governance, venality in public procurement by civil servants and citizens alike and mismanagement of public coffers, seem to have stirred a spirit of change amongst the people; and unlike ever before the turn out for party primaries were the largest in recorded history, indicating a new voice seeking a better tomorrow.
Boniface Mwangi is one such change taking the political scene by storm. He is a renowned photojournalist and a social political activist. However, unlike many of his opponents, his passions are derived from the need to lead or politics his journey into the political world was stirred by violence. As a journalist, he catalogued one of Kenya's worst events in its history, the post-election violence of 2007/2008 and from this, he understood clearly the perils that face a people when humanity is ignored and pride embraced. Ever since he has sought to be a solution rather than a passive informant.
This quest led him to create three initiatives. The first Initiative was Picha Mtaani (Pictures of the Streets), which featured photography on Post-Election Violence. The second one was called Team courage, which strives to help patriotic citizens speak out against corrupt leadership and promote peace. While the third initiative is Pawa 254, which unifies activists and artists to work towards Social change and advance Human rights in Kenya.
Nonetheless, his biggest statement to being the solution is through his political party, UKWELI (Swahili for Truth) and his vying for the Starehe Member of Parliament seat. Now he faces the biggest challenge yet, a tough political opposition. His main opponents are Steve Mbogo of NASA (National Super Alliance Coalition) and Jaguar a renowned Kenyan Musician of the Jubilee coalition.
These two alliances are deeply rooted into Kenyan mindsets and are shaping the political landscape of the country; meaning that a new, starting political party such as Ukweli will face the challenge of introducing itself to an electorate knowledgeable and aware of established parties with reputable financial backing and party machines. His approach is, however, his biggest selling point. Instead of relying on wealthy individual donors, he's crowd funding his candidacy with small donations and even had a campaign truck donated to him. So far, he has received over 150,000 Kenyan shillings.
As is the case with policy makers, cynics fear that Mwangi's influence will be muffled by Parliament. They state that he is more effective from the outside as an activist.
Additionally, Mwangi enjoys a huge following on social media platforms. He has 700,000 followers on Twitter and 250,000 on his Facebook page. This is advantageous for him in tapping up the young and social media-savvy population who are consumers of online information and are increasingly shunning their tribal identities. However, it's difficult to know if these numbers will translate into actual votes.
For now, Kenyans are becoming increasingly proactive in matters of state and yearning to choose leaders who are ready to implement the changes they seek. Mwangi has been a welcomed change in the nation’s political scene and his noble works haven't gone unnoticed. But the fact still remains, Kenya needs to break off its tribal shell and allow for a democratic process to adhere. Just as Bob Marley said in his renowned song Redemption song, it is time Kenyans came off their mental slavery and followed their voices that have been crying and longing for a change.
A change rooted from the understanding of how powerful a casting vote is. A change that is pleading for well-informed electorates to apply educated choices and not accept the propaganda filled politician influenced messages that are spread throughout the campaigning period.
Yet win or lose, Mwangi has left a mark on Kenyan politics, challenged the old structure and providing optimism for those fed up with the current status quo. He is shaking up the political scene and hopefully, he shall from within once elected as a parliamentarian for the Starehe constituency.
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