Guest blog by @iFortKnox
I grew up a lone child and since I lost my mum when I was seven, it was just me and my dad until my teenage years when I was sent to boarding school.
Living with my dad, I was exposed to a lot of life experiences either through practical participation or historical narratives. My dad reads a lot. I mean A LOT. And he’s not much of an outgoing person unless it’s a church-related function, which he had a lot to attend because he was and still is a catechism facilitator. So when he wasn’t involved in any of those church functions, he’d just stay in the house reading, listening to music, and when he’d get bored with all that, I was the only human being around he would have conversations with. We’d talk about virtually everything, from religion and specifically why I didn’t like church and church-like stories like why I shouldn’t eat white meat, women, and our clan back in the village, my education, and sports – he was a very good hockey player back in his school days and lots and lots of history. That is how I spent most of my weekends. Week days were play days for me.
That is how I gained interest in politics, reading and discussing politics. I’ve always been a politically conscious cat. At some point after high school I had a “chronic” addiction to pornography (body politics indeed), not really the fucking or the Clinton-Lewinsky-head-encounter-like actions but the message boards and forums that we enjoyed for subscribing to premium services of such like websites. I had my homeboy who was working at the time and he was already hooked into this plastic monetary system or credit cards if you will. I’d give him equivalent of $5 in Kenya shillings and he’d use his credit card to renew my subscriptions. I wasn’t working then but somehow I had some little money with me. Not pocket money from my dad, he’s the last person to want to give you pocket money just for being at home chilling, doing nothing or chasing after your female peers after graduating high school. My homeboy on the other hand was an engineer at this telco company and I’d expect him to turn down my little money and just renew my subscriptions on his own bill but nada. Not to sound stereotypical, but his mum is from Kinangop. I’ve been there once.
What these message boards and porn forums accorded idle souls like me and the rest of those white kids from Eastern Europe I interacted with, was a false sense of deep understanding of life. But it heightened my curiosity nonetheless. We’d discuss anything and everything known to mankind but all put into sexual context. It was a porn forum, need I say more? This one time, after watching a lesbian porn (Which I must say was worth my time) the discussion headed straight to Sodom and Gomorra. It was a discussion on Homosexuality and Modernity and stupid shit like that. I was 19 and the closest I’d come to that subject was in High School. First in C.R.E where we actually talked about Sodom and Gomorra and second, this one dude who was our class secretary and we hated him so much, sometimes we absconded cleaning our classroom (by we, I mean a few idiots I had massive influence over their mannerism) just so he could snitch on us and we’d have a perfect reason to keep wishing death on him.
To be clear, my crew did not start the homo rumors but it suited our cause so either way we saw no reason not to fuel the rumors. This is how the rumor started. This new guy who was very girly and people who knew him claimed he was expelled from a very prestigious school for raping a fellow student. The rape part kind of freaked me out but I was safe, I didn’t share anything with the dude – class or dormitory – not because I was a homophobe but nothing fun in getting raped in the ass. I doubt you can rape someone at the dining hall, maybe at night but I was never around the dining hall at night, not even when there was a movie showing. So this new girly guy and our class secretary became really tight friends, I can’t tell whether it was by seduction or by virtue of them sharing a dormitory and residing in the same compartment in that dormitory. It didn’t matter, me and my crew bought into the homo rumors like relief food. Thank god the rumors never reached the administration so these two supposedly gay dudes were never expelled, but you can imagine the level of ridicule they were subjected to. Come to think of it, if they were like really gay, they would’ve committed suicide right? Or maybe Gay Africans aren’t that fragile as the ones I read about on HuffPost.
So this homosexuality and modernity discussion went on for a couple of hours, some of these white kids all bringing their family members, relatives and friends out of the closet like Denis Nzioka would do if his brother told him he’s gay too, only that this was a porn forum and the discussion wasn’t sponsored by Identity Magazine. Maybe they did, just that I never got a check, plus I doubt they were ever going to pay me since I wasn’t that progressive enough within the political sphere of deviant sexualities. I wish those porn forums became mainstream like Facebook. Those white kids exposed me to a lot of western political ideals and I read a lot about them when I wasn’t feeling like watching porn or I didn’t have internet.
2007 was a special year for me, politically. It was time to put all the political junk I had accrued over the years, including the porn forums where I first learnt the power of community service. I was 20 and had registered as a voter and I was looking forward to getting to the ballot booth and exercising my democratic right – like I had been taught in school. I followed political blitz on TV and on radio, had endless arguments with my peers who were equally excited. I was the “intelligent” one and that helped me moderate those silly debates we had in the village (I had moved back to the village to live with my granny). My granny had a TV, it was the only TV in a 5km radius, I automatically became a political pundit in the village just because I had access to information and people trusted me somehow. We would walk around urging people to go register as voters. Even though we favored different politicians for the parliamentary seat, we found a unifying factor in the need to make Agwambo the next president of the republic. Politics in my village was kind of a reserve for men but this time round, I was making sure more women registered as voters. I was that dude. A couple of folks hated me because they thought I was getting paid and I wasn’t sharing. I kind of enjoyed that drama. One thing for sure, the community service lessons the white kids from Eastern Europe had taught me on the porn message boards were coming in handy (no fapping)
Then the ODM nominations happened. As a registered ODM member back then, I wanted nothing to do with the MP we had at the time, Philip Okundi – Immediate former CCK chairman and I think he’s got some position within the ODM hierarchy. My preferred candidate was Martin Ogindo, who eventually won and went ahead to clinch the parliamentary seat. The process was flawed and it mirrored the Kivuitu lead process at K.I.C.C. that precipitated the mess that was P.E.V. But we put up a fight till justice was served.
What really happened was Philip Okundi after a heavy defeat everywhere in the constituency including within his own clan, was awarded the nomination certificate. Those in the know speculated that it was a money politics and that Philip Okundi was popular within the ODM ranks than Martin Ogindo (Like I was supposed to give a fuck about that). True Martin Ogindo wasn’t as wealthy as Okundi was and still is but we needed a new blood, we were done with the status quo which Okundi and another former MP, Chem Ochuodho represented. Plus Martin Ogindo is my neighbor so really what choice did I have?
I gathered a couple of dudes in the village, played with their emotions a little bit with the fact that our clan had been alienated and it was our time to show the rest how to really do it. We are close and we can’t afford to have Okundi for another 4 years of doing nothing for us. I’m a little guilty for playing the clan-card but whatever, I was young and I was dealing with ignorant folk way older than me who were very apathetic. In fact they only cared about Agwambo being the president, nothing else mattered to them. The clan-card worked like a charm. We hit the streets. I made a few phone calls here and there and I was informed Homabay town was already on fire. Just what I needed to bring my inner Jack Bauer out. I lied to these dudes again that Homabay folks are already causing havoc thanks to us. Nobody asked me shit, so I kept it moving with lies. The cops were alerted and Rodi Kopany came to a halt. Yes we took over every corner and playing cat and mouse games with the cops. Thank God no live bullets were fired like they did in Homabay. I know a dude who got shot.
Three hours later, Royal Media Services owned, Radio Ramogi – which was the only FM station broadcasting in Dholuo then – announced that Martin Ogindo had been awarded the certificate. A 4-story building rumored to be owned by Philip Okundi in Homabay town had been set ablaze then; still I gave little to no fucks about it. Justice had been served. For me, Martin Okindo represented freshness and we hoped he’d do something worth talking about. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because of bureaucracy, but I still hoped my vote was going to bring something new to my village – first – and the constituency at large. I hoped to see equitable distribution of CDF and bursary funds. Was I unrealistic with my expectations? I don’t think so. Those are some of the promises Martin Ogindo made before nominations. I was naïve and I got caught up in the frenzy for trying out a new thing that I took his lies seriously.
I know as young people, we are always guilt-tripped into believing that your single vote will amount to something. And that the vote is your power to demand for a better polity. But history doesn’t always support that theory. I mean politics will always present us with false choices. Like I described up there, I had a choice to choose between status quo and an undercover lair that had a great reputation in the civil service but has proved to be nothing but status quo. Guess what, he’s done nothing worth documenting back in my village. He made promises that would have transformed the constituency if he had followed up on them. I know we young guys will continue to vote. To vote because it’s what is expected of us as citizens, it’s our democratic duty sanctioned by the constitution to vote. We want to positively influence the governance of this country, using the vote. It’s all good. I’m just not inspired enough to participate. Heck last time I did, a shitload of Kenyans died and some got displaced. I’ll give it a pass. I’ve been there done that, got nothing. Will it make me less of a Kenyan? I’d wish to give the least fuck possible about it. For those feeling inspired to vote next year, go register and please make the right decision – with me in mind, of course.