Campaign Fever

by

Raila Rally 11-18

I walked out of my apartment half-asleep this morning and before I knew it I was in the middle of a rally for Presidential candidate Raila Odinga. I joined 30+ young men as they paraded down Ardwings Kodhek Road announcing their support for Raila with posters, megaphones, oranges (yes, the fruit: Raila is from the Orange Democratic Movement) and a matatu with people hanging out every window.

It’s nearly election time in Nairobi, and billboards and campaigning for the Dec. 27 vote cover the city. I took a matatu into City Center to explore. In Uhuru Park a massive billboard announces Raila as the “People’s President” while the signposts along Moi Avenue are plastered with ads for current President Mwai Kibaki.

Everyone is talking about it and the energy is exciting. On our first night we stayed up in discussion with Edwin Machine, whom we are temporarily sharing an apartment with. Edwin (born and raised in Nakuru, on his way to Kisumu for work) supports Raila because he feels he is more connected to people than Kibaki. He described Kibaki going out to a village and talking about 6% economic growth – meaningless to people when their daily lives don’t change – while Raila talks to people about the price of sugar and things that matter to them directly.

Regardless of political preference, it was an interesting conversation about communication, especially after our reflections on story telling this fall. Finally, the Kenyan election isn’t the only thing on peoples’ minds… I got a big cheer when I told the guy I was buying bananas from that I am an Obama fan!

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