History, Comic Relief and Other Strategies.

Last week with just 20 days until the March 4th general elections the 8 presidential candidates made history by coming together at the Brook House International School in Nairobi to debate each other on an array of important issues ranging from land to corruption, and from education to integrity and the ICC question, the 3 hour debate was at times humorous, serious and at times heated, it was the first of two debates taking place this month.

Now with only 14 days left to the national election campaigns have accelerated into over drive with presidential candidates-8 in all-and their running mates are dashing from one end of the country to the other in an almost frantic effort to gather votes or sway those all important undecided voters. They are also appearing on both TV and can be heard on early morning radio shows giving interviews in a bid to sway even more voter their way.

In this frenzy politicians are everywhere doing everything they can to get the publics votes: use proverbs, mud slinging and tongue twisting. They will even sing and dance for them!
 From posters and banners on every wall, large banners beside every road and in adverts on TV. One cannot escape the party colours and the smiling faces of the candidates in hot pursuit of positions ranging from president, governor, senator councillor and MP.
This method of campaigning would be far more tolerable if these posters or - more to the point- those who post them left the walls or billboards on which the stuck their colourful posters clean and preserved the beauty of the space but for some reason they didn’t get this message and instead leave the once white walls or columns black or grey with left over glue and long destroyed posters. The result of all this is an ugly dirty mess which the city council will undoubtedly –in their own sweet time-clean up.

Even worse than the long lasting ‘beautification’ these posters have created is the spirit of sabotage that sometimes comes with politics in that the once smiling and complete faces of some politicians are now eyeless, ripped apart or with teeth blacked out. At first this practice made me chuckle and brought back thoughts of my primary school days when we used to draw fake moustaches, bushy eyebrows, goatees and horns on the pictures of much reviled fellow student or even teaches.  This kind of vandalism is pointless as the voter tends to vote for the man or woman they want in government beautiful poster or not.
This mess is further compounded by spray painted messages for or against a particular candidate usually in red or black paint urging the voter either to vote for one candidate or against another, these people – whom I can only assume are youths- take to the walls to highlight their county politicians’ vices for example: ‘Joho For Drugs’ was written in red somewhere in the coastal city of Mombasa where Joho is fighting to become the cities first Governor.
These are a far cry from the inspiring and colourful graffiti of vultures- 3 in all- proudly taking up residence on a wall in the capital city, their messages of corruption and wise voting speaking volumes to both young and old in the city and the country at large.

Almost one year ago this was the witing on the wall question is do Kenyans still remember the warning?
The History:
History was made on Monday the 11th when all 8 of the presidential candidates gathered to debate each other on some of the issues deemed most important to the prospective voter. By nature debates are for those who have not made up their minds on who to elect come Election Day. The 3 hour debate that aired on every Kenyan TV channels, radio stations and via live stream on the internet was informative- we got to know both the candidates and their vision and mission for the country much better- funny- courtesy of Mwalimu Mohammed Abduba  Dida, who left everyone in stitches and in doing so went from relative obscurity to popularity overnight to being the most talked and laughed about candidate of the debate.

And to think that he and Paul Muite were very nearly excluded from the debate, until they went to court, where the High Court ruled that the debate could not go ahead unless all the presidential candidates cleared to run in the elections were allowed to participate.

Uhuru Kenyatta who took a beating when the ICC question was brought up along with that of integrity but still managed a win according to figures compiled by pollster Ipsos Synovate. The poll also had Raila Odinga coming second. This poll was taken only by those who watched and heard the debate.  With Dida and Mudavadi only garnering 4% of the vote. With Paul Muite it would seem based on the poll had fared the worst with 2%.

Whether this debate and the one to follow next week will change the minds and opinions of voters’ remains to be seen and with Election Day drawing ever closer some politicians and their VP’s will find themselves wishing they had more than a few helicopters at their disposal- and in the case of Martha Karua; just one, and they will all be looking more closely at a higher power for some heavenly assistance.
In casae you missed it or haven't watched it, here's the debate in full.


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