Aynsley Genga is a JURIST Staff Correspondent in Kenya.
Kenya is now a day away from its general elections, and political rallies are over. Saturday was actually the last day for any campaigns or rallies to be conducted. In the lead-up to the weekend political parties were therefore busy making sure they had perfect venues for final events with all their supporters. Politicians were not the only ones buzzing with excitement – so were citizens, especially those who were in Nairobi city and would therefore be able to attend the major rallies planned for Nyayo National Stadium and Kasarani Stadium. Walking along the streets of Nairobi or even in offices you would not miss at least one person talking about the rallies or discussing politics in general.
When Saturday finally arrived it was no surprise that many citizens gathered in the major venues. The Kenya Kwanza party held their final major rally in Nyayo National Stadium. Azimio la Umoja held theirs in Kasarani Stadium. Some citizens also gathered in the Nairobi suburbs to listen to Agano’s presidential candidate holding his last rally there. It is during this rally that he pledged to bring an end to the high cost of living in Kenya. George Wajockoyah, the presidential candidate for the Roots Party, meanwhile had a rally in Meru on Friday. He however, has been having issues with running mate Justina Wamae after a video of Wamae endorsing Raila Odinga (the presidential candidate for Azimio la Umoja) went viral. Justina had said after the spread of the video that she would leave the party if what her partner said in the video was correct. She did not even attend the rally in Meru. The situation in Roots Party is therefore very rocky at the moment. Despite this, the Roots Party leader still held his final rally on Saturday in Westlands, Nairobi.
In Nyayo National Stadium, William Ruto made his final submissions to Kenyans and urged them not to be afraid and vote for Kenya Kwanza. He declared that freedom was coming and that no matter what the “deep state” did, the will of God will prevail. Ruto went on to vow that he would bring an end to corruption as well as end the high cost of living crisis currently plaguing Kenya. He urged Kenyans to vote for him and hence bring an end to those in the “deep state”. Once he was done with his speech in Nyayo National Stadium, Ruto was seen rushing to Wilson Airport in to board a chopper that would take him to Kiambu for his final rally. His supporters were very pleased with his speech and most were wowed by his declaration that freedom was coming and by his demonstration of his faith in God. The critics were not dazzled, however, with some even claiming that his avowed belief in God was an act since his previous actions did not match with his religion.
In Kasarani Stadium, the largest stadium in Kenya, Azimio la Umoja’s final rally was nearly full. People could be seen filling in to enter as early as 7 AM in the morning. Many came to hear the final campaign speech of Raila Odinga, also known as Baba (“father of opposition”). When Raila arrived he began by thanking all those who had supported him up to now before urging voters to keep the faith and to keep the spirit of “Alutta Continua” (it means the struggle continues; this was the rallying call used during Mozambique’s independence movement). Raila went on to remind Kenyans that this year’s general elections mark the seventh multi-party elections in the country. Baba further described the significance of the number 7 by stating that is a symbol of completion and new beginnings. He commented on how, even in the Bible, God rested after 7 days. Also, Joshua went around the walls of Jericho 7 times before God finally fell the walls in order to pave a new beginning for the Jews. Then he went on to also remind Kenyans of how his presidential journey started on saba saba day, the 7th day of the 7th month of 1990, when Kenyans came together to declare that the walls of dictatorship, corruption impunity, injustice and exclusion must fall. Raila therefore declared that this coming Tuesday he and his supporters would finally finish what they started.
Additionally, Raila urged Kenyans to vote wisely – to ensure that before voting for a future leader, that that person would actually contribute towards the betterment of the country. He said that depending on what Kenyans decide, either something good or very terrible will happen. In Biblical terms, it will either mean liberation for Kenya (going to Canaan) or Kenya remaining in Egypt and in the clutches of Pharoah. Raila then declared that regardless of whether he wins or loses, he will continue with his handshake principle, despite what people say. After all, in the end, Kenya is not just him and he loves his countrymen too much to let his ego get the best for him and seek out revenge. He stated that when he wins he hopes to reconcile the whole of Kenya and unite everyone. This election is therefore a very big moment for all Raila supporters and all are hoping that with this election they will finally see him in the presidential seat, although his critics are sceptical of him due to his affiliations with Uhuru Kenyatta, the current president who has led the country into debt.
Other than the presidential rallies, we also had Uhuru Kenyatta holding a rally in the Mt. Kenya region urging Kenyans to vote for Raila Odinga. In Homa Bay County youths suspected to be supporters of Gladys Wanga of ODM Party went and attacked supporters of Evans Kidero at his rally leading to three people getting injured. The violence was only dispersed after the police arrived with teargas. There have also been stories of tension rising in the Rift Valley region where people of tribes other than Kalenjin are being chased away from their property, which is a matter of great concern.
The rallies are now over, the aspirants have spoken and all that remains is for Kenyans to vote on Thursday, August 9th. May the best aspirant win. I hope for the sake of the entire country that whoever wins will bring positive change to Kenya. Like many other Kenyans, my prayer is that the elections are free from violence and any other vice.