Saturday, July 02, 2022

Kenya Elections

2022 is an election year in Kenya. Africa is needing good news on the democratic front but it is fair to say that Kenya's political class has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. We hold our breath and pray for no drama.

60 years later some of the names are still in play. Kenyatta and Odinga are still relevant albeit of later generations.

Odinga visits Kenyatta in detention march 1961

— Odinga Odinga visiting Jomo Kenyatta in detention (March 1961)

African election campaigns can be a curious mix of crude and sophisticated. From bagmen distributing rice (or just t-shirts, votes can be cheap) to, say, consultants from Cambridge Analytica hawking their influencer wares as was attempted in 2016 in Ghana. There's a broad spectrum of approaches.

odinga odinga campaigning in eldoret Africa Report 1966

— Odinga Odinga campaigning in Eldoret in the 1966 election campaign.

kenyatta at kandara africa report 1966-10-059 kenya's little general election

— Jomo Kenyatta campaigning at Kandara in the 1966 election campaign.

Politics is a contact sport. Elections in a covidious time can be fraught affairs, needless to say, Observers are worried
An election, rigged or not, is a stimulus package.

Since I jotted down these thoughts in February, I have been pleasantly surprised that I haven't been hearing much from Kenya. I understand things are heating up and campaigning is ongoing, but thankfully there has been precious little of what we saw in the lead up to the last elections. The nomination process was bruising but civil society seems to be tempering the worst impulses of the politicians. No news is good news in this respect and normalcy is good for business.

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