My sister and I disagree over the 2007 post-election scenario. She says we slept in the garage’s trench but I say we slept under a huge truck at the police station. I blame this on memory. It has been almost ten years since we ‘hurriedly’ left our home in Iten to look for shelter at the police station as the crisis of what we thought would be a few days escalated. But that’s just a blip in my memory, or hers.
Memory is a thing we love to play around with. The 2017 elections and the results that have followed have unveiled aspects of this country that we tend to forget, aspects that we tend to sweep under the carpet and hope tomorrow will be better or fit our perceptions of better.
There is a running joke on Kenyan social media platforms this week, variations of “Politicians sasa watoe posters, waganga wanataka kurudisha zao.” I laugh, I retweet, especially because the variation I come across features the woman-beating former governor Evans Kidero. It is that time in the political cycle when our lives are wallpapered with brightly-coloured but quickly-fading promises, some of which will survive, just barely, until the next election.
‘A Sense of Where We Are’ is a series of brief notes and reflections from people in and close to the Enkare family about the 2017 elections in Kenya. When reading these notes, we ask you for two things: i) attention and ii) expansiveness. If prayer is ‘unmixed attention,’ then pray about what it means to be Kenyan today; pray about the lives that have been stolen; pray about the dreams have been deferred to build this nation, and the spirit in which it was done; pray about the promises made to our grandparents; and pray about the hopes, shared and private, that we hold in our hearts. Pay attention. This is our true and proper work. Come to these reflections with large-heartedness, with a willingness to stretch for your fellow humans, with trust that all life is worth preserving, and that the work required to do so is also worth the investment.
I vote for the first time in my life on August 8th, 2017. I am the only person in the polling room in the polling station somewhere in Embakasi West. The whole thing takes about five minutes, and when I’m done, I walk back home. Outside, all is quiet; the people at the local bars talking about Owiso, the mkokoteni pusher vying for MCA who we all hope will win. On my way to my apartment, I scan the fingers of fellow pedestrians, looking for the familiar blue ink on their fingers.