My Olive Branch

If I said the past week was a roller-coaster of emotions for Kenyans, it would be an understatement. Apart from those who work in media, most people took a break from work to prepare for the national elections which were held last Tuesday. Then came Tuesday. People turned out in large numbers to cast their votes and it was clear that our Kenya is full of patriots, citizens hungry to exercise their democratic right, choose their leaders and be part of change.

We celebrate everyone who was a part of this important day and here are some of our most memorable moments.

The D-day
It was a very chilly morning, full cloud cover and you could almost smell the rain. This didn’t stop wananchi, they were well-armed with heavy jackets, scarves and even umbrellas just in case. Those who went in the wee hours even had flasks of uji and tea just to keep them going. It was a busy day for matatus speeding noisily as they ferried people, along half-empty roads. At the polling stations was a sea of humanity- pregnant women, older citizens with walking sticks and the very young-looking ones who I bet were excited to be voting for the first time. However, the majority were those probably in their 20’s and 30’s engaging in conversations about previous election experiences, giggling and taking turns to sit on the few chairs that were available. I imagine a couple of guys were inebriated after having one-too-many through the night waiting for this day.

IEBC employed very vibrant young people who assisted in the whole process and answered all queries. The voting process took pretty much the entire day and reportedly went smoothly in most parts of the country, apart from a few technical hitches.

Photo by: Eric Froehling

Digital Ready
Most of our Facebook timelines were full of election-related messages from the previous couple of weeks. Emotional messages, encouraging verses from the Bible, countdowns and of course some spiteful messages from people who chose to hide their identities. There were several online campaigns, in fact we were trending internationally with the top hashtags being #kenyaelections2017 #Kenyavotes2017 #kenyamovingforward and #peace.

Most of the campaign teams had a social media manager who strategically planned engaging online posts on social media platforms. Therefore, they owe a lot to Digital marketing, they invested heavily on online advertising which enabled them to reach people in places they may not have gotten a chance to visit. It bore fruit. Congratulations to the elected leaders!

Githeri Man
Then there is Mr. Martin Kamotho, popularly known as Githeri Man, who is literally an overnight celebrity. It started with an online hullabaloo because of a photo of him carrying his githeri to snack while queueing to vote. The photo showed that he was determined to vote no matter what, it became a trending post and within no time everything elevated; various brands reached out to the public, promising an award for anyone who would lead them to him. Digital branding is a very powerful tool in Marketing today and some of the companies saw a great opportunity in this.

Martin was the new Sheriff in town, he got so many offers, including a weekend getaway holiday with his family, a piece of land, a wardrobe make over, the latest Samsung mobile phone, ok the list really goes on and on. Basically it rained and poured for him. He not only brought out good humour despite the tension, but he also turned out to be a good reminder that we have so many reasons to be united as a Country.

Media
Kudos to the local TV stations for full day coverage and live streams on YouTube. At some point, I think almost everyone who had access to TV tuned in at the same time. The media teams stayed up day and night to keep the public posted on the elections events real time. There was also had a big presence of international media together with 9,000 election observers from different foreign countries.

It’s heart-breaking that there is still some tension and heartache, it’s hard to deal with but we must carry on. We need to do everything we can to have peace within ourselves and stretch an olive branch to our neighbours, let’s choose peace.

Photo by: Michal Galezewski

What are your most memorable moments of the elections day? Share with us below.

xoxo,

Sharon

Blog post main photo by:Nathan Fertig

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