Kenyan elections are never boring events. They are the equivalent of gladiatorial fights, complete with an arena and a euphoric audience. In fact, often, as in Rome, winners are determined by who can better use sharp objects and who can transform euphoric chants into motivation. In such an environment of blood and paper, it is often hard for anything to stand out but once in a while, something sure comes up.
#7 Hire a Militia
What would a good election in Kenya be without a series of small, unacknowledged massacres and ‘ethnic displacements?’ Boring and bad for the economy, that’s what! Kenyan life revolves around elections, stopping every five years to decide on who to hate for the next five years. Its never much of a choice really, your surname pretty much tells the observer who you are voting for, but not why; the reasons are often blurry but the numbers, tyrannical. So how does a good Kenyan politician make sure he or she wins decisively, or by 2 votes, or by none, but is declared the winner? Simple! Hire a private army, a small ‘ragtag militia’ to win you the election with weed, machete, and halitosis. I don’t know about the last one, its always the image I get whenever I hear of gangs, guys with unkempt hair and no knowledge of how emancipating a clean mouth is…
The logic is pretty simple and begins years before an election. In places where a majority might not be as defined as to provide the necessary tyranny of tribe, politicians employ militia to start a war against ‘the other tribe, ’ referred to as ‘madoadoa’ as recently as 2007. Not only does a private army give you clout, but it also means you never get to lose a brawl again. You get to determine who lives and who dies, who gets raped and who doesn’t, who gets to give birth and who gets to miscarry. You are the evil overlord of your small electoral conquest, ruling from behind the shadows, conveniently away from the frontlines to not die in the counter attacks but always making sure your troops pass the message. If we didn’t know better we would think you a deity.
Pick any multiparty Kenya elections and someone somewhere had a militia ‘campaign’ for him or her. Tribal politics have led to ‘tribal clashes’ during elections which begun in earnest with the 1992 ethnic cleansing strategy in the Rift Valley, Baghdad Boys in Kisumu, the Kaya Bombo raiders and other militia in 1997, Mungiki in 2002 (when both leading candidates were from one tribe) and then hit a climax in 2007. Jeshi la Mzee, Jeshi la Embakasi, Nganda Nyenze’s ‘Ndeteleka Group’ and other ‘private armies’…the list is so long that one needs to only point to a spot on the map of Kenya to locate a place where a militia exists or has been. All the ones mentioned in this previous list were at some point used to win someone an election.
Up until now, every militia in Kenya has been constituted on ethnic and gender lines; can’t a good militia also be an equal opportunity employer.
#6 Bring in the Mossad?
It is impossible to say enough bad things about Moi, formerly Citizen #1 without using all possible negative adjectives. Never has one man does so much evil in less than quarter of a century, oh, scratch that, the man has peers.
To be fair to the man, Kenya was never much of a country to begin with, just a small country with cobbled up diverse groups that had to learn to share a national cake that belonged to the 1 percent. Other than its strange borders and rampant avarice, Kenya had had more than a few massacres already. The national numbness was (still is) a dictator’s dream and the women wore miniskirts to church….the good old days.
Upto 1990 at least, Kenyan elections had been simple cases of who was the better sychophant. Moi opposed multipartyism vehemently, even going as far as having his VP at the time, Kibaki, fence sitter extraordinaire and the slowest Head of State ever (Paraplegics do not count in this comparison) make sure ‘one-partyism’ waslaw; arguing that it would bring tribalism and division. When he realized that couldn’t win, he jumped onto that train-the tribalism one, although he had always been on it- like a boss, in fact he was the boss.
The earliest attack in the lead up to the 1992 elections was an attack in October 1991 on members of the Luo ethnic farm in Meitei farm in South Nandi District. Over 300, 000 were displaced in the resulting attacks and counter-attacks. KANU blamed the clashes on the opposition, and the latter blamed it on the former, then everyone went back to their Muthaiga homes and laughed maniacally.
The never-released (at least officially) Kroll report (Thanks Assange, hope you get some sun soon) suggests that the 1992 clashes were the work of Moi’s right hand man at the time, the ‘Total Man’- whose feeble attempts at clearing his name are often hilarious- and ridiculously expensive. More specifically, one of the Total Man’s ‘business’ associates, a Mr. Danny Vardi. said to be the same guy behind the disappearance of key Dr. Robert Ouko murder witnesses. Vardi is thought to have been a link to the Mossad although the claim is largely unsubstantiated-but given how unsure we are about the truth in what we know, not entirely implausible.
#5 Rape your Opponent?
Immediately after the 2013 elections, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association accused some unnamed male aspirants of using threats of sexual violence to force the female candidates to back down. While they did not name and shame the misogynists, their assertions were not new…or even surprising.
Elections in Kenya have always been more testosterone than adrenaline, more where the meat comes from than if it is even safe for consumption. In such a state of cultural misogyny, political office is seen as a man’s world, and the few women who have balls (I had to) to run for any office find themselves the targets of attacks and sometimes…rape and death threats.
The current levels of intimidation of female candidates in multi-party Kenya can be traced back to 1992 (again, this must have been the year of all shenanigans) when the political stakes went beyond simply being friends with Mwananchi #1-and throwing yourself prostate whenever he was around. Before 1992, if the Big Man said you were running, you were running, and winning, gender being inconsequential. From 1992 however, it was open season. Everyone woke up one day and realized would never be any progress without getting female candidates. The resulting interest in female candidates ‘threatened men’ when their campaigns drew mammoth crowds, the commonest way of gauging how effective your witchdoctor was. So politics went to the strays, predictably.
“ For a good part of the campaign period, the media reported some of the most unlikely election tales. Married women candidates were accused of neglecting their families for personal gains. Widows were accused of having been the cause of their husbands’ deaths. Divorced women were accused of having loose morals.”
The TJRC Report, Volume 2A p 736, 86 contains an excerpt on unnamed female candidate who tells the story of how she was raped and beaten by a group of thugs who told her that she ‘troubling men.’ She says “One of them suggested that they leave because I was not proud. Then another one asked what they were going to say. That is when I realized that they had been sent.”
You think we left this curse in the 1990s? That TJRC witness is talking about the 2007 elections and the KWPA was talking about events of less than three months ago…and a related one from 2013.
#4 Outsource Witchcraft
No African election is complete without a half-dressed guy sitting on your head-and presumably farting on your face as he utters incantations and makes you regret going for aromatherapy. He also has to make you eat peppery things as he jumps around you and yells things to ‘bless the ballot’ and make you ‘invincible at the vote.’ If you are not sitting on a three-legged stool in a smoky hut talking to a guy who does not shower much, then you are probably doing it wrong. If you have a smoky hat and a three-legged stool and are not already advertising services for the byelections, you are also doing it wrong.
A few days before the last elections, Moses Wetangula, then a candidate for Bungoma Senator, claimed that he had concrete evidence that his rival was using witchcraft to ‘bind voters’ and “do funny things at various venues.” The funny implied here being not ‘funny ha-ha’ but ‘funny hhhmmm WTF?’ While it is almost impossible to ignore the BDSM connotations in the choice of descriptors of said goal of witchcraft, it turns out that the ‘witchdoctors’ in question had been outsourced from a West African nation. We have all watched enough Naija films to know that a handkerchief, with the right amount of magic, can get a personality and an evil, almost electrical laugh followed by exclaims and unnecessary handclapping.
The candidate in question was Musikari Kombo [he outed himself to clear the rumor that he was part of said BDSM] who clarified that the alleged witchdoctors in question were actually Nigerian MPs. He said that the MPs had accompanied him during his campaign rallies (and implied that West African legislators cannot good withcdoctors make… Naija filmmaker, over to you). It turns out witchdoctors might be one of our largest expatriate population for the duration of the polls. Tanzania is kind enough to furnish us with the much needed expertise, and if the advertisements nailed to the few remaining trees all over Kenya are anything to go by, being a Tanzanian witchdoctor is an added advantage.
But its not all lost, just last year, 105-year-old John Dimo predicted that Obama would win re-election and surprise surprise, BO won! Who would have thought? Maybe this thing works guys, but can it be used to choose a wife?
In one scene in the two part-video above (and below), the witchdoctors’ rate Dennis Okari’s chances of victory (his star is “…at 35 and it needs to be at 58…). Does anyone know the criteria for this rating, maybe it is more reliable than our opinion polls but then again, the witchdoctors in the expose never figure out that Okari is the same Okari on TV. Wait, what’s that? Maybe they too do not watch KISS TV? Oh, yes, no one does…
I am not sure how the ass-sniffing is necessary, but I would go for the being carried around and jumping over horns. It looks like good fun for the man and for the heart.
#3 Mlolongo System- The Dick-Measuring Contest
Entry #6 up there already discussed how we should blame Moi for all that ails this badly drawn map. Still, if you think the man did his worst in and after the 1992 elections then you probably do not know about the joke that was the 1988 KANU elections. KANU was ‘chama cha baba na mama’ and the symbol of the party was (and still is), the cock, or cockerel, if we insist on writing the long version to avoid the hilarious ambiguity. Since winning the KANU nomination was winning the election outright, there was a lot of haggling and murdering and bribing whenever the nomination elections were held. There was also comparing Mwalimu #1 with the Christ in Christian and letting him know that he was your monarch through and through.
The Mlolongo voting system was a queue system where party members lined up behind the photographs of their preferred candidate. These elections were actually part of a larger plot; on February 5, 1988, Moi had announced the release of nine political prisoners followed quickly by a snap general election on March 12 that he christened the ‘big broom.’ The National Assembly had been expanded from 158 to 188 seats with 12 members appointed by the Father of the Nation, the man with the wand. Any candidate who won 70 percent of the nomination would go straight to the August House.
The idea behind this seemingly bad joke is that, ideally, the candidate with the longest queue wins the nomination and thus, the elections. It is sort of like how young boys choose opposite teams before a football match, only this were the actual elections. You can see the returning officers coming out of their stuffy offices, shielding their eyes from the sun to ‘see far’, and then declaring someone the winner right?
Like all dick-measuring contests, it turned out that length wasn’t the only thing you needed, the girth of your queue, and presumably vigor of your sychophancy, also played a part.
“KANU made sure that whoever it wanted was the winner –long queue, short queue, it didn’t matter.”
If the line above does not sound like the typical dong-measuring contest then I don’t know what does. It was the same the election that gave us the professor of mathematics and the man with his legs on both sides of the political divide, both former vice presidents, both dead, one politically, the other literally and politically.
#2 Stage a Fake Kidnapping
In 1997, Uhuru Kenyatta (Now Landlord of the Nation) was a thin young man with a bad taste in suit jackets and zero knowledge about why you should wear your party colors during a campaign. His mismatched suits were just beginning to feel the pressures of being a feudal prince with a dynasty to propagate. Despite his otherwise unappealing prospects, Mkenya #1, HE Daniel, had seen something in him (dynasty!) that no one else, including the State House operatives, had not.
So Moses Muihia, UK’s erstwhile rival for the Gatundu South seat was more than just a simple parliamentary candidate, he represented the hopes and dreams of those who wanted to quash UK’s political brand. This was a typical Kenyan election, you could kill the man’s supporters, begin a tribal war, hire the Mossad, or even simply pay off the man to quit, but why would you when several pints of blood and a river could do the trick? If there is a medal for this kind of thing then these guys deserve one, a podium finish, even if they are the podium.
Well, 1997 was a different time, there was no internet in Kenya just yetand news was still pretty much oral…read, spread by the single guy in the village who could afford the newspaper. UK was a strong candidate alrightand he had the support of Mkulima #1. Working with the knowledge that Moi was running in his last elections-which he had already won even before the ballot papers were printed-his Kitchen cabinet decided to frustrate the young prince’s chances of succeeding him.
So they hired a group of former University of Nairobi’s student leaders to make sure the young prince lost the election…on election day!
Muihia was ‘kidnapped’ in a stage-managed plot that included plunging a car into River Thiririka and pouring some pints blood (from a nearby slaughterhouse) into the river. Then the town crier-equivalent made sure everyone knew about the ‘kidnapping’ of the Kenyatta rival. What did the voters do? Of course they voted for the guy whom they thought dead or kidnapped, a concept known in sham democracies as a ‘protest vote.’ At 2 pm the ‘victim’ appeared conveniently and told voters (who had just voted for him) that he was still alive. He had already won the election…and added to the infamy of Comrade University,
#1 Amend the Constitution!
While Kenyatta the Elder had his failures, this entry will show that if nothing else, he was the best wingman a man could ever have. The wingman, as described in the Bro Code, is a sacred role that is occupied by only those who can handle such responsibility. It turns out that if you’re the successor to the Queen, you can make quite the wingman… Plus, who knew the Bro Code is greater than a country’s constitution?
During the 1974 elections, Paul Joseph Ng’ei prevailed upon his rival, Henry Muli, to withdraw from the race. Muli later filed an election petition against Ngei’s win claiming that “… he (Ngei) had bound Kangundo voters to back him by administering an oath.” The high court ruled that Ngei had indeed committed the electoral offence, nullified his win and disqualified him from the consequent by-election. When he realized that this meant he couldn’t eat at five star hotels and point the waitresses to State House when they presented him with the bill, he turned to the man who still owed him a lifetime of favors.
Mzee, ever the Lannister, made Njonjo and Moi (who had been part of the efforts to ‘finish’ Ngei politically) come up with a solution that had to be passed by Parliament in 12 hours. Since Parliament was scheduled to go for recess, the Head of State and Government, Landlord of the Nation and Protector of the Tribe declared that the recess was conditional; they could only go if they enacted the amendment…which they did with Moi proudly declaring “I support this amendment because we know that the President is above the law…” He would know.
Ngei’s hold over the Man with the Fly Whisk is said to have begun at Kapenguria where he saved the man from getting beaten by his jailers several times, and even foiled Kariuki Chotara’s assassination attempt on the future president. When a man saves your life and even takes a beating for you in prison, that man owns you! He can walk into your compound anytime and eye any of your wives, and the implied Bro Code demands that you must comply. Ngei spent most of his time cashing in this blank cheque and pissing everyone off, once taking a Mercedes from a showroom and refusing to pay for it (aaaahhh…the good old days). He ‘test-drove’ it for 20 years.
The result? Constitutional Amendment Act. No. 1 of 1975, or as it is colloquially known, the Ngei Amendment. This seemingly harmless amendment extended the presidential prerogative of mercy to include annulment of the result of an electoral court (where an offence had been proven).
Even more proof that this is the most outrageous thing ever done to win an election? As soon as the amendment had served its purpose (annulling the nullification of Ngei’s election), it was repealed..presumably so no one could abuse it, no one else at least [sic!].
“[O]nce demagogy and falsehoods become routine, there isn’t much for the political journalist to do except handicap the race and report on the candidate’s mood.”
― George Packer