To everyone here in Kenya and those who have relatives, mistresses or parties of interest here were well aware of the elections on 4th March. Well, it was anticipated in the same breath as it was dreaded and the unfortunate events of 2008 played a large role in this. These elections were my first ever general elections to vote so i was of course looking forward to my first truly patriotic act. With that you can guess my age for never will i say it. Fortunately(or unfortunately, depending on how you chose to view it) I got a chance to work as a polling clerk for the IEBC.
Initially, I was thrilled. I mean, who gets paid while exercising their partriotic rights besides journalists? Plus i got to miss doing CATs that i had not read for. Yipee!! Dont judge me. I still got to do make up CATs when i get back to school. Bummer! Where was i? Oh yeah, clerk world. The first order of business was a two day training at ngong. It was alright save for the fact that i underestimated the cold there and spent most of the day hugging myself before the sun decided to show up and help me out. Someone should invent a portable boyfriend to hold you when it gets cold. That would be so convenient even when other cravings strike, if you know what i mean. On the second day of
training, i dressed a bit warmer with the assumption that we were to disperse before nightfall. Well, fate and its other evil siblings decided that i needed a last dose of biting cold and thus the IEBC officials were disgustingly disorganised and slow that we dispersed at 9pm having done nothing worth all those hours and as a bonus, annoyed for we had found out the amount of peanuts they planned to pay us in the name of a salary. To crown it, I was hit on by more guys than i can remember but none of them felt the need to offer me a covering. I guess it obscured their view of my premises huh? So called gentlemen! That’s why my
boyfriend is not Kenyan. Kenyan men need finishing school, most of them in fact.
On Sunday the 3rd Feb, as the other Kenyans sat in their warm air conditioned houses waiting for the d-day, the clerks spent the eve of the elections at polling
stations preparing the materials and even spent the night in awkward positions at odd corners in the name of getting a little shut eye. Being the hard headed person i am, i went home and got at least 3 hours of sleep an actual bath and a hot breakfast. Thus if i happen to describe the clerks as sleep plagued and semi bathed, i am excluding myself in that description. I am a hard worker (disclaimer) but i have something against accepting discomfort when there is a better option. The path of least resistance. Plus i lived only 5minutes away so it made sense.
On Monday the 4th, I happened to see tweets from people who were complaining about the people who they stood in line with. Well, they should have tried being a clerk for an hour and they would cringe. I was the clerk clarifying names of people and not everyone on the queue brought good thoughts to my mind. Some of the IDs that were handed to me were so crumbled up that i did not want to think of where they could have been placed to look (and smell) as they did. Plus some people needed a little deo and alot of soap and my poor nose felt the brunt of the odours. Biology, like a disgruntled last born, decided that it was a perfect day for me to get cramps and i was just working in a self induced daze and refused to focus on the pain. We, the IEBC staff, were not to use our phones till the end of the day but i just had to call home to ask for meds. Even they would understand that nature obeys no rules besides its own.
On the bright side, most Kenyans are truly friendly. I didnt get rude people on my line. Even when i couldnt find people’s names, they didnt raise their voice to me. Or did the presence of a security officer with a gun have something to do with that? Who knows. Plus i was pleased to discover that i have quite a sizable population of good looking neighbours. They were a welcome break from the monotony of the work and at least my eyes got to feast on some eye candy. I also helped in increasing coca-colas annual sales just by the number of cokes i consumed for the blood sugar spike and shot of much needed caffeine. I thought unsliced bread didnt exist but IEBC thought to go old school and buy us those. When was the last time you had loaf and soda? Probably when you were in an awkward regalia of a certain school at an out of school. Talk of a throwback experience! All that was missing was Nameless blaring in the background with Wahu complementing him.
Finally it was time for counting after we had rested for a few minutes and i had downed another coke. The process for the presidential box was painstakingly slow and all the agents were very alert. After that box, the yawns started coming in sequentially. It was as if it was a symphony of yawns. Both the agents and IEBC people were tired and the fatigue was kicking in. We somehow managed to finish all of them but at some point in time, i blacked out in the middle of tallying the results for the last box. The effects of functioning on caffeine. When it goes below a certain level, you totally black out. Thank God for giving me awesome people to work with. They just let me be and i was woken up when it was time to leave. Too bad it was at 3am so i had to sit there for another two hours to give the thieves on duty time to finish their shifts and go home. I didnt feel like being mugged after a hard days work. I somehow got home and after freshening up. I jumped into bed and slept until 4 pm the next day.
I woke up to hear that some polling stations are still counting and that some people even voted until midnight. Poor clerks. They probably felt like passing out. Next time, IEBC should buy redbull. Thats why i get very vexed when i hear that there are rigging claims. The process of counting was so painstakingly slow, thorough and transparent. Then the results were relayed immeditely to the headquaters where the results sent will eventually be compared with the actual papers there. Idleness is fueling all these conspiracy theories doing rounds. Kenyans should get back to business if they havent already. This prolonged suspense aint good. Media houses should air movies and then put the results as subtitles for those intersted. I even stopped watching tv totally. I just tune in occasionally for the results and then i switch back to my movies and series.
Whoever wins, so be it. But Kenyans should remember to keep their peace. Propaganda and conspiracies will always be there for those who choose to believe them. If politicians have issues, let them argue themselves silly but lets not raise a finger against another. In the end, we need each other and life must eventually go on.
PS: Happy women’s day to all ladies worth their salt.