I told them that I was monitoring the progress of everything that was happening. From the Miraa guys chewing it out at the entrance of the polling station, the normal snoring hood watchmen and the rest of the nocturnal activities that never end in the neighborhood. So this was the eve of Kenya’s big day in 2013. I couldn’t sleep myself. Working and anticipating the big day.
So at exactly 3.30am I got into my gear and brushed my teeth as someone had suggested on twitter. I wouldn’t want to change the decisions of my friends in the line… Just in case I bear a hot breath. I took a novel I am currently reading – Regina’s Song, a spare battery for my phone, a charger, my National ID, my Voters card – just in-case my job ID & Ksh 205/-, a Kenya branded scarf, Kenya branded arm band and Venice the watch. I was sure the line would be miles long. It was exciting. I took my time to call up a few friends who had requested to be woken up at the said time so that they could beat the queue. Nobody picked my call so I assumed they definitely were in line or deeply asleep.
So I walked like a boss to the polling station which I expected to be empty. To an all time shocker, the line was already 200 meters long. In my mind I was like I have two hours before this line starts moving. Damn! Having in mind that I was in a residential area, it meant that the over 100 people in line had booked spaces for the people who were looking from the balconies of their houses. I chucked my Regina’s Song and got down to real reading. It was amusing for the people around me who were wishing they had reading material for them. Then the critics who were convinced I was sending my eyes to hell for the strain. The line was growing at some high rate.
By six am the line was an equivalent of the distance from Pizza Inn Moi Avenue, down to “Bomb blast” and branched to Times towers and still growing. This is what my entrepreneurial mind was cooking. One was the instant coffee in small cups. I once did this in college – in class some years back in the July season & it was such an oil well. After the second or third day, everybody is addicted crazy & the intake went on rising and rising. This only goes for 10/- and I figured that if on this morning one could boil and boil and boil, a fortune would be made, especially in the chilly hours of 5.00 am to 6.30am. It would be unescorted. So that at around 8.00am, one can unleash real tea (Milk) with mandazi or slices of bread for escort. Here by 8.00am I figured people would be in panic mode because the lines were yet to start moving. So they would want to eat in readiness for a long day. At around 9.00am, the crowd would be suffering from the effects of coffee. I don’t know how coffee manages to summon all the fluids in the body into one massive pressurized pee! But I won’t pull in the portable toilets yet, maybe in an hour or so. Remember this is a residential area, no bushes, all pubs closed & no place to go for relief. The kids in line should have started wailing by now and the sweets & biscuits would come in handy. The sun is getting hotter and the people are now getting bored.
If the portable loos don’t make their entry at this point, the people will have crossed the endurance threshold & they won’t need to take a leak. Exit toilets and my boiled eggs & smokies would be ready by now. This would make the day. An egg makes one full and so there would be no chance of selling two eggs to one person, unless those who just stopped drinking at 6.00am. Smokies & eggs until the stock goes kaput. By noon the people are wishing for water. Water is everywhere, and being Embakasi, you wouldn’t just trust any source. So here I come with my water, which will be straight from a chest freezer. It would probably come as a big solid block of ice. – makes it market worthy! They would be happy and take it down, increasing their craving for water. So it would be a ‘season’ of frozen water until around 2pm or thereabout. By this time, its just a matter of listening to what the people want, “Huwezi leta mandizi” (You cant bring us bananas?) so I know ehe in my mind I be like “Mandizi tu” I call up my team at the kaheadquater we would have established and am like, “Tengenezeni Pudding sasa” (You can now make pudding) the next guy to ask me, “kwani hauna pineapple?” (You don’t have pineapples?) I respond and say “Zinakuja saa hii” (They will be coming in a few) in like 30 minutes I am ready with boxes of ready fruit salad with those disposable plastic forks which I emphasize should not be thrown away. Dare you! By now I have even employed people on the ka – enterprise. My close friends, those who are quick at jumping at this stuff, not just random guys, lest I talk to myself come close of business. Things like airtime are a basic need. They would also be in stock. Unfortunately, elections don’t happen every month, and if they did, these opportunities wouldn’t be there. And if they were, they wouldn’t be with as high returns. Again the next round will be 2018 where I might be again too excited to vote & go home, that I won’t care about the opportunities. I might even be in a dissimilar situation all together.
That was a thought that took like 20 minutes or so, in my own fantasy world. Scrolling through my twitter timeline were people cursing the queues. Well you decided to sleep, what did you expect? I was smiling to some extent because the social status argument almost arose in one of my conversations last night when someone tried to insinuate that it’s only the middle class & below who wake up early to vote because they are in highly populated areas… It doesn’t matter, the sun at noon didn’t wanna know from which corner of this country you come from. We all had to pay the price of nation building. The exercise was peaceful and at some point when the line at the polling station I was at became too long, the people decided to make another one but in the different direction. It almost brought unrest but peaceful Kenyans agreed to let it rest. Expectant women & mothers were given priority but at some point they started to misuse the privilege & there was swapping of kids right in the full eye view of the other voters. Some of the kids were stubborn enough too scream “I want my mother!!!” Again this was put to an end when the indelible ink was also made to feature on the kids’ pinkie fingers as well.
Having heard enough, seen enough & was perfectly sure of a successful process, I replaced my novel’s book mark and removed my job ID ready to go to the extreme front (Privilege). I was just about to walk straight to the front of the line and say I needed to be at another station working, but I decided against it. The process had pleased me & I had already made a lot of friends in the line. So I stayed. In the six & a half hours that I was there, I had a blast & added to my CV my responsibility of nation building.
God Bless Kenya.
God Bless Kenya.
Here are my favorite Pictures that characterized this process as we campaigned for peaceful elections.
Thanks to the Chagua Amani Zuia Noma innitiative.
Thanks to the Linda Amani Campaign
|This one I couldn’t resist. Thanks to Shameer Ole Yusuf|