Monday, December 31, 2007

Kenyan Convulsions

Our neighbours to the east are convulsed in tears of pain, more characteristic of Uganda.

They have been good neighbours through the years. Stable, fair, open minded, to our clannishness and self serving spirit as Ugandans.

When I heard that Kenya was going for elections, I was not worried. When I heard that the leader of the opposition was leading opinion polls, I was envious of Kenya. It has one time peacefully voted out a ruling party. To elect an opposition coalition.

The polls were calm, very surprising to me, a Ugandan. Polls are not supposed to be calm, at least not in my experience.

I really started taking note when the results were being announced.

Pure farce, and comedy, Uganda style.

When the ruling party is losing, some very interesting things can happen. In Uganda, independent radio stations that publish the ‘incorrect’ results are jammed. Illegally.

Their websites are blocked, from issuing any results. And so when their negative results suddenly turn positive for the ruling party, all protest fails to raise or turn a single hair. This is Africa, we are told, Uganda.

I am cynical of our dear leaders’ credentials to democracy. Fie, it is a ‘western’ value! Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful and wonderful concept. But we are yet to make it work in our nations.

What has happened in Kenya is typical Ugandan democracy.

The overwhelming lead of the opposition was slashed. A ‘Florida’ style (guess we did learn from the Americans that year, huh?) delay in announcing the results. Then when the final results come in, surprise, surprise. The incumbent is the president.

‘We are Kenyans, not beasts’ the Chairman of the Kenyan Electoral commission declared at the height of the farce. I was emboldened and cheered for the man. His sense of identity and pride as a Kenyan was evident.

Poor guy.

He did announce the results. Surrounded by police and ‘protected’.

Within the hour, the incumbent was sworn in.

And a taped ‘swearing’ in ceremony was broadcast on the national television. Behold, the incumbent has a new term. The king is dead, long live the king.

Who will believe in this? Who believed the Nigerian election results? No one.

Life goes on. Pray for Kenya, in the new year. The convulsions have just started. Ugandans are old hands at this. I would dearly not have wished this on Kenya. But it has happened. Life goes on, and brace yourself. Fasten your seat belt. Turbulent times ahead in the new year.

God bless Kenya in the trying time ahead.


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Friday, December 28, 2007


A lot of people have been wondering about this blog lately — why are so many of the listed contributors expats? Why doesn't anyone post? How do I join? What, exactly, is the purpose of this whole thing?

When I started The Kampalan, I envisioned something like Gothamist or DCist — a city-specific blog that would cover mostly arts and entertainment with the occasional news post thrown in to sober things up. I hoped people could check out the site to find something fun to do this weekend or see what the best new restaurant in Kabalagala was.

At the same time, I wanted to leave things open to the contributors, to let them decide where they wanted to take the blog. That approach has led to an eclectic jumble of introspection, how-tos and lists of wireless cafes.

Me, I'm all about structure, and I'd like to see The Kampalan morph into something more along the original guidelines I'd set in my head — a one-stop source of information, insider tips and news about Kampala's entertainment scene. But what do you guys think?

You have a month to vote. In the meantime, if there's something about Kampala you're dying to say, e-mail me and tell me why you want to be a contributor.