Kenyans Still Believe In The Value Of Democracy. That’s More Powerful Than Election Results.

MARCO LONGARI via Getty Images

The task as citizens in upholding democracy has just begun.

MOMBASA, Kenya ― The morning of Aug. 8 should have been an incredibly exciting day for me. I was a young Kenyan voting for the first time in the general elections. It was exhilarating, don’t get me wrong. But it was also a very trying experience. So much was at stake, and yet so many people had also already written the vote off as meaningless. Was I naïve to believe that I’d have a shot at democracy? That my vote could mean a better future? A better Kenya?

I headed to the polling station with my dad at around 10 a.m. It was late by most standards; some people had begun lining up at their respective polling stations hours before they opened at 6 a.m.

The streets were unusually empty ― everyone was either at home or queuing up. When we arrived at our station, the line was already snaking around the road and moving painstakingly slow. We waited for almost three hours.

As we waited, it began to pour. We shared two umbrellas between almost 10 people. Voters next to us edged themselves under the protective shade to escape the downpour. In our shared, frustrating experience, the people standing beside us became friends, and the conversation transitioned quickly into a scathing review of the politics of the day.

Joseph Okanga / Reuters

In our shared, frustrating experience, the people standing beside us became friends.

An old gentleman made a statement: “Whoever you support, in the end, all these politicians are part of the same club. Don’t be deceived.”

He was suggesting that we should not take the political divides that seriously and then fight amongst ourselves. People laughed and voiced their agreement.

For me though, the problem was precisely that. I was having a hard time separating person from politics ― the politicians simply blurred into one another.

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Identity, personality and relationships: works-in-progress. Join me in the unearthing of myself through my writing. Karibuni!

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Aleesha Suleman

Aleesha Suleman

Identity, personality and relationships: works-in-progress. Join me in the unearthing of myself through my writing. Karibuni!

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