From the foot soldier’s perspective: The Kenyan elections 2013 from an election observer’s viewpoint
Chapter 12: Kariokor Social Hall
A fellow Kenyan journalist / observer came along with me. Her boss at a South African news agency was pressing her to see if she could find somewhere ‘election related violence’. As the Eastlands of Nairobi are a good place to encounter violence in general, she was eager to join me on my trip.
We arrived at Kariokor Social Hall around 4 pm and we did not find any Form 34 and Form 35 displayed.
Though, a lot of garbage was lying around the grounds of the site, and a lot of this garbage were clearly IEBC materials. I decided to look through the garbage on the site to find and secure any possibly important material, primarily Forms 34 and Forms 35. In the garbage, amongst many other IEBC materials, we found lots of broken ballot box seals, empty Forms 34 and 35 and some of the filled Forms of the various streams of the station.
And a ballot paper.
A ballot paper marked for Raila.
So this was it. The final piece in my hunting puzzle. They did it. It explained it all now.
Holding something in my hand, which I should have never hold in my hand at that particular place and time, my mind went into overdrive. At the same time, I realized the magnitude of the situation we were in. As this was turning into something big, I decided to call in another team of observers, to witness this as well.
After a while, a team of a foreign and a Kenyan journalist arrived together with their Kenyan assistant and Kenyan body guard. When I showed them the ballot paper, shock came over them as well. A scene like in a movie unfolded. The Kenyan body guard, a former elite soldier towering at least 1 head above all of us, said ‘You see, that’s why you should never trust Kenyans’. Obviously shocked, he started to repeat the sentence indefinitely like a robot. The Kenyan journalist sat down and started to cry, softly. He said, he never had wished this day to come.
Truly, I felt similar to both of them at this stage.
After the initial shock cooled down, we went to look for more materials and recorded the whole scene on photographs and video. Realizing the dynamite we had found and seeing how the tension in Kenya grew more explosive day by day due to the massive irregularities, we all wondered how to handle this. By electoral law, this evidence should be reported and handed over to the IEBC. But due to the unfolding situation in Kenya, where it was not clear any more if IEBC was playing an honest role, this did not seem necessarily the best option. We envisioned that the evidence might ‘disappear’ and so might the people who found it.
As the sun set and the nights are dangerous in the ghettos of Nairobi, we decided that it was time to leave the scenery. We decided to move to a fast food place near the National Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya to deliberate what to do next. As the whole situation could have dangerous implications for all of us, we agreed that none of us would talk yet to anybody about what we had found.
Just when we were leaving, a group of teenage boys entered the place to play a bit of football. They were friendly and I had a bit of a conversation with them. They were curious what we did at this place, so I told them that we were election observers on official duty. One of them said, that we should do a good job, as honest elections were crucial for development. He hoped to live one day in first world country. He added, that he did not want to leave his country for that dream. He meant Kenya.