ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL; AS THE PLOT THICKENS

As the countdown to Election Day closes, now more than ever, candidates and their handy followers are folding their sleeves all the way up in readiness for a long two days of gruesome and possibly decisive campaigns.

 

There have been claims by some candidates that their opponents locked them in their rooms, thereby crippling their campaign tracks. Even some have alleged to have had their names dragged numerously through the mud; that they’re projects of outgoing leaders in a bid to extend their reigns, or that they sold rooms to fellow students during their tenures as hall representative; all in the name of cheap propaganda.  They say they won’t be cowed by malice and/or ill-fated attempts at pulling them down. But this is politics; it’s bound to get dirty. And it is in this final stretch that it gets even messier.

 

Aspirants with soft spots are driven to the ground solidly with no benevolence whatsoever; this is not your Mama’s playground. Go hard or go home. This is a world where only the crafty, the financially endowed, the fierce, and the sweet-tong’ued have a shot at glory.

 

Comrades Power…,” yells a voice on the microphone. The venue is the basketball court and the students are slowly streaming in; possibly to hear the words of wisdom about to be drilled into their ears or just to treat themselves to the free refreshments on display beside the speaker.

 

Power!!” They howl in return. The momentum is fast picking up, more people are pouring in and the voice from the mic is growing even louder.

 

This is the time for change. This is the time for true leadership. Let us be conscious of the decisions we make, lest we hand over power to people who will only serve their selfish interests and not those of the students. I’ve been here since 2012, and not once has the JKUSO office been opened to the students. Kazi yake basi ni nini? Wanataka tuambie mashida zetu nani ikiwa wameweka vifuli mlangoni mwa ofisi? Vote me in, and I will make sure that office is open day in day out so that students access their leaders whenever they have issues to be addressed, au sio? Comrades!!!” The voice, now submerged deep somewhere in the middle of the crowd, continues.

 

Eeeeeehhhhhh……Power!!!!” The audience replies with vigor, confirming to the speaker that indeed they’re still alive and well taking notes. They are with him. Or, perhaps, only waiting for him to finish talking so they can be served the drinks already. But either case works just fine; as long as they’re cheering and making noise to every remark he makes, he’s satisfied.

 

The ears of the leader must ring with the voices of the comrades. Vote Victor Marende for Secretary General; Vote conscious leadership. Thank you!” The voice declares with a tone of irrevocability, confirming his identity in the process; finally putting a name to the voice. Now just the face. But even that isn’t too long before his campaigners shove his poster or a piece of his manifesto into your feeble hands. Or he, himself, moves around from one person to the other, shaking hands and reminding them how important their support to his mission is.

 

Marende

***

 

At the assembly hall, all hell is breaking loose. A debate for the candidates running for various seats is in tow, but the bouncers are having a hard time controlling the gathering. Everyone is shouting the name of his/her preferred candidate. A fight is inevitable between two rival supporters seated next to each other, so there’s no surprise when a few blows and jabs are seen flying from the back row. The bouncers are quick to react, and the bout is contained. For now.

 

Sports and Games docket aspirants are up first. Two men stand tall; one Kelvin Bett and Joseph Achoka. Bett is the captain of the school volleyball team; he feels that his capacity allows him to understand better what the sportsmen go through and therefore at a better position to serve them better. But Achoka begs to disagree. After all, even Maradona was the best player to ever come from his home country during his time. But when appointed coach, he drove the very team he had led to multiple victories during his heydays as player to the ground as its leader. Yes? But Bett is still confident he’s the man. And so is Achoka. They stand their grounds, and put out their manifestos to the public. When asked what they’d do if they failed to deliver their promises, Mr. Achoka is quick to declare that he would tender his resignation with immediate action. Bett, on the other hand, only has four words for the horde;

 

I will not fail!”.

 

Achoka    Bett

 

Now to the ballot boys. Good luck.

 

The Vice Chair candidates are next. There’s only two of them, both ladies; Elzie Chebet and Irene David.

 

ChebetIrene

 

Elzie is evidently the proverbial crowd’s favorite. A decent lady, and humble to the core. She walks to the stage at the mention of her name, takes a slight bow at the crowd and proceeds to her seat amidst ear-piercing cheers and unending roars of her name. She even has a bouncy track by some JKUAT artist to her name; a lady of the people, this one.

 

Irene walks in and the cheers reduce, by a huge margin. But she’s undeterred. She struts the floor head held high and takes her seat right next to Elzie. Calm and composed. Then the grilling begins.

 

Elzie has previously served as hall representative, and currently holds a post in JKUFESA [I don’t know what that stands for either].  By the sounds emanating from the hall as she speaks, the people seem to have been satisfied by her previous and current leadership qualities just fine. Irene too has served as a hall representative. A question comes in that she was rumored to have been selling rooms to students during her tenure and she’s placed on the spot to defend herself. She denies it [who wouldn’t though?] in between boos from the crowd. Folks, politics si mchezo.

 

All the best, ladies.

 

The Secretary General’s seat debate is by far the highlight of the evening. It’s a highly sensitive post that requires deep connection with the students. So jeers, sneers and cheers rent the air in equal measure. Obadiah Kipkoech, Nahashon Julu and Marende Victor [the voice from earlier on at the basketball court] are the men standing on the cliff.

 

Even from the front seat, it is practically impossible to hear what the candidates are saying. The mass makes sure every time their preferred candidate holds the mic, their voices are heard the loudest.

 

Nahashon Julu, apparently, is a man who has been in the university previously, before securing a job [with the army?] and is now back for a second stint. He denies any possible rumors that he came back because of his greed for power, but because [and only because] of his deep desire to further his education. He just stumbled upon politics as a by the way. A valid reason; with just its fair touch of controversy nevertheless.

 

Julu

 

Marende Victor speaks with authority, affirming that he’ll make sure no JKUSO official owns any tuck shop as is the case currently since this is a violation of power. He vows to root out corruption with his last remaining bit of strength. He is the voice of the voiceless, he believes.

 

Marende

 

Not much can be said about Obadiah Kipkoech, blame it on his rowdy goons. One could never make out his words clearly, but from his actions, he spoke with a deep conviction and ferocity as well. He was whisked out when the debate came to an end by his people, almost kicking my nose with his feet in the process. I digress.

 

ObadiAH

 

There was no debate for seat of Chairperson. Jomo Erick, the man on whom I did a grand piece [read here:  https://ianreal.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/in-the-name-of-politics/ ] was nominated unopposed and therefore, as it stands now, is the JKUSO Chairperson 2014/2015. When the nomination list was released, buzzes could be heard from every corner; querying how exactly it came that the most powerful seat in the institution had only one person. Supporters of the other missing candidates [Abdi Siyaro, Maimuna Said and Elijah Ng’ang’a] were outraged. They petitioned, asking why their preferred aspirants were omitted from the list. But as it turned out, two of them had apparently gotten supplemetaries in class while the other had fee arrears; thereby automatically disqualifying them from vying as they ran short on a few qualifications required to be met by all candidates. All the while, Jomo fought like an enraged bull. He saw injustice being dished out and he reacted, thereby securing his post. Pundits view him as ‘too humble’ for the seat but you can never judge a book by its cover, he might just shock everyone. Personally, having interacted with him a few times and listened to some of his views, I think he can. And that’s that! Read his manifesto here: [ http://www.jomoerick.com/ ]

 

Jomo Erick

 

***

 

Finance docket is the other contentious seat. Eve Maina, one of the contestants, last Friday promised the school one helluva launch party and delivered zilch. But we understand, shit happens. Wamui Thiong’o and Chemonges T. David are the other contenders. If there’s one race to watch out for, it’s this.

 

eve Thiong'o Chemonges

 

Then there’s Academic Secretary with kina Eucabeth and Job Gacheru;

 

Euca JB

 

And then there’s Entertainment with ‘Hozzie’ against Alfy;

 

Hozzie  Alfy

 

[Bana are those even campaign posters? SMH…]

 

Meanwhile the Student’s center has become a haven for drinking, wrestling and ratchetness. This is where people get wasted before running around the compound with posters of their Messiahs. This is where ladies come wearing squat skirts, exhibiting their panty colors, and put their best foot forward on the dance floor; grinding every Dick [pun intended] and Harry in sight. This is where stoned folk massage each other on the cheeks at the slightest even non-offensive insult. This is also where Ken cock-blocked my thirsty arse and played pool after a meal of fries and a sip of who knows what!

 

Tomorrow JKUAT decides. And the boys will be separated from the men; and the girls from the ladies. Whoever wins, stand by your word. To the losers, you’ll live to fight another day. I was gon’ say ‘Accept and move on’ but I saw the cliché in it; no one relishes a loss. Ask Magunga Williams. Or the big man from Bondo. While you’re at it, enquire how his back is faring. I hope he’s well.