This one is about the vote, my apathy and promises.

Have you registered to vote?  No?  What are you waiting for, an extension?  Get up right now, go to your nearest polling station and get registered.  Don’t worry about who you’re going to vote for, or if you’re even going to vote, just go out and register, we’ll sort out the rest on March 3rd, next year.  What’s that?  You don’t have time?  Not to worry, it only takes a couple of minutes, and as an added incentive, they’re giving out free tequila shots as they take your picture.  No really, they are, go see…

I got myself registered, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure I want to vote.  Wait, don’t lynch me just yet, let me explain my reasons.  I no longer believe that expressing my democratic right at the ballot box will bring about the change I’m looking for, not just because the idiots running for office are, well, idiots, but the very structure of that thing they call government seems to be fundamentally flawed, I don’t think it could deliver even if it wanted to.  That’s right, I am completely apathetic, but I haven’t always been this way.  Used to be that I was a fervent believer in the power of my one measly vote to change the future.  I was that eager patriot who would call people on voting day to make sure they went out and cast their ballots.  I was the fawning idiot who attended a rally at Nyayo Stadium back in 2002.  I was the idealistic girl who tried to convince her conservative parents that voting for change was a good thing.  I was that silly optimist who actually believed them when they told us, me, that standing in line for 2 hours at dawn was the only way to get the pot-holed roads and erratic water supply sorted, once and for all. 

I am no longer that person.

I grew up middle class, actually working class (if recent definitions I’ve read are to be believed), and I’ve always known that as a humble raia, I am a nobody, a mere cog in the system to be used and abused at will, except for that one day, every five years, when I get to have my say and be heard.  2007/2008 showed me that wasn’t the case.  Someone somewhere took my voice from me, violently, and then proceeded to flaunt my powerlessness in my face.  I’m angry.  I’ve been angry for the last five years, hell, I think I’ll be angry for another five, maybe even longer.  Two years ago, I was so angry I refused to vote in the referendum, figuring, ‘Why bother?  These bastards will do whatever they want to, irrespective of what I say.’  There was also the minor matter of tallying, I was convinced that those bitches couldn’t count (can they?).  Don’t look at me like that, I’ve voted in every election since I turned 18 and I voted in the first referendum, I’ve earned a free pass if and when there’s no contest.  If there had been a possibility that the YES side would lose, I would have gone out to be counted, but that was never a possibility, seeing as how the YES side was the government side and, in Africa, the incumbent never loses. 

That’s the only up side to the coming election, there’s no incumbent.  On the down side, however, our choices are currently, foolish, foolisher and foolishest.  Oh joy!

If I do vote, and it is likely I will, it will be for three reasons:
1.      I plan on using my vote as a protest against the idiots who continue to fuck us over for their own foolish desires.  Irrespective of who wins, I want it on the record that I do not agree with you and your allegedly reformist agenda, I do not believe in whatever bullshit you’re peddling, I do not trust your punk behinds.  I don’t care if mine is the lone dissenting vote, I will not endorse you. 
2.      I need to earn the right to spend the next 5 years bitching endlessly and holding someone, anyone, to account for the bullshit I will, no doubt, be forced to endure.  My vote is like the backstage pass to the farce that is our politics, and no amount of apathy will convince me to give that up, what the hell will I blog about if I do?  What?  They’re looking out for their own selfish interests, why can’t I?  Don’t worry, I’ll vote for the best of the worst, whoever that turns out to be.
3.      Many, many years ago, someone somewhere put their life/livelihood on the line to get me this vote.  From back in the days of Mau Mau, through to the second liberation, courageous men and women stood up to be counted, they went past the empty talk and put their bodies where their mouths were.  We, the post-independence generation, tend to forget that this freedom we take for granted, and often sneer at, was won on the backs of these (mostly) anonymous souls.  Shame on us.  The system may be broken, but at least we have a system?  That does not make me feel any better, but I will still go vote, because I owe them that much.

I read a guest post last week on Diasporadical (Why I Will Not Be Voting) that got me thinking about the vote, more to the point it got me thinking about what happens after the vote.  I like that he argues that we have to get past elections as our panacea and look for other ways to become the change we claim to want, by ourselves, for ourselves.  I like that he’s disillusioned with the fucking system, but not so disillusioned that he’s given up all hope.  (I also like the bit about the porn, but that’s another story altogether.)  I don’t care if you vote, frankly I don’t even care who or what you vote for, this election is only a (small?) part of what we’re trying to achieve.  I’m more interested in whether you go out there every day and try to build something greater than yourself, using whatever resources you have at your disposal.  Picture our country as a body,  we’re the vital organs that keep this entity living and breathing, we make this shit work.  The politicians and their nonsense are merely the (not so pretty) skin we wrap around the naked flesh, to keep it all together and present a slightly attractive face to outsiders, but everything within, that’s us.  I know, the skin is the largest organ in the body, but it’s constantly dying off and being replaced, you try that with your liver and see how long you last. 

So if I don’t care about your politics, why am I insisting that you register as a voter?  Because three months is a long time in Kenyan politics, and there is a chance, a remote chance mind you, but a chance nonetheless, that some individuals worth our time will show up and make it worth our while, and if they do, you can be sure they’ll need all the help we can give them, because they will be running against a system whose sole purpose is to screw us over.  Ignore the presidential campaigns, what should matter more to us is the candidates for Governor, those are the geniuses who will have the greatest impact on our daily existence.  You don’t want to be the idiot, in March next year, who wants to vote for a worthy candidate, as unlikely as it seems that said candidate will appear, but you can’t vote because you didn’t take a few minutes to register. 

Go register, hayo mengine tutaangalia baadaye, at length.