Kariokor Social Hall

This is an observation of Kenya’s General Elections on 8th August 2017.

By Kenneth Jura

Yesterday, I was Ukweli Party’s chief agent at Kariokor Social Hall polling center. Before yesterday I had never known where Kariokor Social Hall was. First, I had to vote at my polling center, NSSF grounds, opposite GPO. I arrived at 5:25 am so that I can alert the presiding officer that I was a chief agent at a different polling center. 20 minutes later I spoke to the presiding officer of polling station number eight who assured me that I will vote first. I was however not listed to be on this polling station mine was station six or what you refer to as stream six.

At around 6:15 am materials for polling stations two, three, four and six arrived. They did their set up as I watched closely. Never mind that they had no tent. I was the first on this queue. An hour later the presiding officer announced the station was open but on opening the station using the KIEMS, Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System, kit it failed to authenticate. In 2013 IEBC had close to four different machines for its work. Biometric Voter Registration kit popularly known as BVR for registration of voters, CRMS – Candidate Registration Management System for use by political candidates during party primaries, Electronic Voter Identification Device (EVID) for use during elections and a different device for transmission, EVID was the device that did not work during the aforesaid elections and not BVR. KIEMS kit does all that.

Back at NSSF grounds, I allowed three elderly ladies to vote before me. One of them was either Dr. Joyce Nyairo’s mother in law or her mother. (I admire Joyce’s work as a social scientist, can someone pass this message to her)  She was accompanied by her two granddaughters. The polling station opened at 7:06 am but voting started at 8:05am. Unlucky for the three elderly ladies before me, their biometrics were not being captured so I voted first. By the time indelible ink was being put on my little finger the presiding officer had instructed his clerk to search for their details using their identification numbers.

Tear gas  

I saw Thomas Wamukoya of Reuters, we exchanged pleasantries and at 8:35 am I voted and off I went to Kariokor Social Hall, I was happy that the taxi driver, Owen Wangui knew where I was going. As I passed Moi Avenue Primary School polling center most of the voters were in the school compound. Earlier, I passed the center from home at around 5:00 am and the queue was at Globe Cinema roundabout. I arrived at Kariokor Social Hall grounds at 8:50 am. The first person I saw was David Mutua of CAFOD who was strapped with two cameras and some lenses on his hip.

Kariokor
Jubilee party nominations. Photo courtesy of Ghetto Radio

I identified myself to the presiding officer who took my letter of appointment and oath of secrecy and put it in a box. I asked to be given a badge but he said he did not have them. His eyes were!. I sat at polling station 10, which was a tent. The queue was long but manageable. Queues for polling stations 1 – 5, 8, 9, 16 and 17 were longer that led to the stations inside the hall. This center has 20 polling stations.  Nine of them inside the hall. I inquired from other agents why people were agitated and the answer was that voters who went inside took too long to come out and if they did then they would not be allowed to get in. My tentacles were raised and I told the presiding officer to hand me back my letter because I wanted to go in the hall. I would therefore not be allowed in without it. Before he handed me the letter all hell broke loose as a tear gas canister was lobbed 10 meters from where I was seated. I stood up to avoid being trampled. I went closer to the ballot boxes. I covered the Member of Parliament’s ballot box but I could not stand there longer. The tear gas was overwhelming. A stampede was imminent at the gate. A lady was writhing in pain near a tree, she had been stepped on by the many feet above her, she had a leso, I used it to cover her nose. “Pumua kama umefunika mapua yako na leso na ufunge macho” I shouted at her. By this time I was running out of air. I panicked and also ran for the gate. The last time I coughed that much was when I was very young through something called “yadh afita” which was administered by my grandmother.

Outside the hall people cursed why the police used such technics in crowd control. At this point I heard that during Jubilee nomination exercise tear gas canisters was also used. “Is it déjà vu?” I asked myself. At some point I cursed why I had to be brought here by the party. There was no room for quitting.

Witness account at Kariokor Social Hall

“Koro abiro nyiso dhako ang’o kaka alil kama, to nawuok e ot kaler?” (What will I tell my wife yet I left the house very clean) a voter lamented while holding his torn trousers with a bleeding knee. Opposite the deputy county commissioner’s office a voter cursed why tear gas had to be used. Her choice was Boniface Mwangi but did not see the reason of voting. A voter said in Kikuyu. I was conflicted on whether to speak to her to go back and vote or to go back inside the hall and do my work, perhaps ballot stuffing was taking place when we were all outside. The latter made more sense.

“Observer indeed”

I made my way to the Social Hall grounds but sat in polling station number 10 as I informed the Chief Party agent Nduko O’Matigere, Martin Njuguna and Njeri Mwangi of what had transpired. A few minutes later Khaddija came to check up on me and to deliver oath of secrecy letters for other party agents.

I managed to get in the hall at 9:50 am through polling station number 5 but managed to get space to observe the election process from polling station number two. Since the hall had nine polling stations it was overwhelming to be in the whole center so I contacted Martin who gave me an aspirant’s number. He fetched me from polling station number two. We walked in all the polling stations informing his agents who also worked for Ukweli Party. Luckily, Martin had informed me this. It was only polling station number 13 that did not have any of our agents. With Kennedy Oduor aka Chief in tow, resolved that during vote counting, tallying and transmission, I had to be in that polling center.

Moreover, queue on polling station number two went well until a lady with an observer badge was obstructing voter to get in through a door by closing it yet there were no voters on polling station 3. So I reported her to the presiding officer who told me that his hands were tied. Quite underwhelming a response a response he gave.  People heckled her and other agents scolded her for denying voters a chance to cast their votes. I saw her instructing the policemen to allow certain groups of people in and others not. She sat three chairs away from me. I later concluded that she is not an observer as her badge says but her DNA was as red as the party she represented. On the other hand, queue for polling station 17 was getting longer and not moving. Station 17 was next to polling station 3 which was next to ours so that is why I sat in two, to observe the others. Brian Irungu saw me and greeted me cheerfully; he did not expect to see me.

“Huyu agent analipa watu hapa, mbona anapeana ballot papers, mbona anachukua ID’s za watu fulani kisha anapea clerks?” Kwani wewe ni nani? (This agent is paying and issuing ballot papers to a certain group of people; she collects identification cards then issues them to the clerks. Who does she think she is”? ) lamented an ODM agent. It was around 5:57 pm. The station was not closed as they had opened late so voting was to go on till 7:30 pm. The ODM agent said that the Jubilee agent had hidden money in her under garment (kwa bra). Two of them were later ejected from the hall and voting went on smoothly till 7:30 pm.

I left polling station number two for 13 because they were about to start counting. Counting started after we all (party agents) agreed through consensus on the modus operandi. The presidential vote counting begun at 8:30 pm. The vote counting went on very well, very transparent. At around 10:20 pm Uhuru Kenyatta had 291 votes, Raila Odinga 203 and Mohamed Abdu Dida 1 vote. Total registered voters at the polling station 695 total valid votes 495. On to the counting of Member of National Assembly votes. The sorting, counting and tallying of the votes was long in my polling station but it was worth every wait. Sorting of the ballot was first done by all the clerks by opening the ballot papers and placing them face-down. This process started at four minutes to 10 pm. The counting went on till around midnight. Unfortunately there were voters who picked their ballots from polling station number 14 and cast the ballot in polling station 13. That is why our process of sorting, counting, tallying and transmission took longer than the other polling stations. Boniface Mwangi had 58 votes, Njagua Kanyi 260, Steve Mbogo 166 Roda 6 votes, Mwaniki Kwenya 1 vote, Wendero 1 vote and 4 spoilt votes. Total votes cast 492 with possibility of stray ballots from polling station 14. I left the polling station at 10 minutes to midnight.

Concluding, a review written by Senator Edward Kennedy for Coming of Age Mississippi written by Anne Moody. “A history of our time , seen from the bottom up, through the eyes of someone who decided for himself that things had to be changed…A timely reminder that we cannot now relax”.

To the Ukweli Party fraternity, friends, those who funded it and wished it well. I am still coughing from the tear gas fumes inhaled. We will live to fight another day.

Fireworks in cigarette 2

By Kenneth Jura

After Ole Lempa was quickly taken to the dispensary, Henry’s mum and other medical staff waited to attend to him. Meanwhile at the scene the amount of blood on the red soil depicted the degree of his injuries. A crowd had gathered near his humble aboard, they talked in hushed tones as if he had died while others supported their heads with the palms.

Shortly thereafter Emale’s elder brother Keagan emerged from their house shouting while pointing at Henry, as if confused Henry pointed at himself then pointed at the crowd over the fence. Keagan shouted “You good for nothing boy, today you will know who I am” he heaved as he surged towards Henry.

His hoarse voice had caught the attention of the crowd and Sandra’s sister had already used the small opening on the fence.

“I knew Henry had to be involved in this” Keagan held his brother and Henry by their collars.

“Who between the two of you is involved in this?” he asked.

Henry shook his head not knowing that Keagan knew about their mischief too well. He slapped Henry leaving marks on his bony face as though they were rumble bumps.

At the hospital, Henry’s mum together with other hospital staff made sure that Ole Lempa was stable and bleading stopped. He was put under anesthesia then stitched. Four stitches ran from nose’s base to his lip and his sinuses fixed.

Later that evening as Henry’s family sat on the dinner table taking supper; rice, kales and beef. Henry’s father sat next to Tess, Tracy sat opposite Henry’s mum and Henry sat at the head of the table.

“Ole Lempa was badly hurt from an explosion, what happened Henry?”’ the mother quickly asked looking at Henry’s eyes

“I don’t know” Henry responded brusquely

“Don’t talk to me in that tone” the mother countered

A knock deflated the rather ballooning quarrel between Henry and the mother.

“Come in” Henry’s father said as he went for the door.

“Welcome” he extended his arm leading the visitors to the living room.

Sandra’s aunt, Emale’s mum, Mrs Kisaka, Emale and the estate chairman Mr. Mwangi came in.

“Mama Henry, your son will one day kill us” Mrs Kisaka said at a kimbo.

“Wait, let him (pointing at Emale) tell you what he confessed to us earlier”

“If you dare lie then you will know why I am a police woman” Emale’s mum fumed.

“I…I..I was sent…” Emale stuttered before he was rudely stopped by the mother.

“I did not give birth to a stammerer?” Emale’s mum asked twitching the son’s nose

“Ok, mama Emale kindly sit so that the boy can be free to tell us what happened” the chairman spoke with a dignified tone.

Henry stood from his chair, cleared the table and started doing dishes before he was abruptly called by his father.

“Come here Henry”

“What did you do to Ole Lempa?”

Henry looked at Emale as though looking for cues on what to say from where he left, Emale on the other hand avoided eye contact with him.

“Speak up kijana” Mwalimu shot from his seat.

Before he uttered any word Tessy had already brought his father’s belt. On seeing the belt Henry mumbled words which nobody in the living room could hear. In his mumbles an aura of pride, courage and fulfillment made him smile but not visible enough to the father and visitors to know but quite noticeable to the mother.

“Tell us exactly what you did, not that we don’t know?” the mother urged Henry.

“Mum, Ole Lempa beat me more than enough times because my ball went on their side. He even pricked my ball twice. You remember you told me that I should not allow people to beat me”. Henry said pleadingly.

“What kind of nonsense is this? Mama Henry”  His father rejoined as he sank his head in his palms.

“I am sorry, I did not intend to hurt Ole Lempa that much” Henry begged for mercy.

“What do you mean that much? How far did you intend to hurt him?” the tyrannical mama Emale quizzed.

Henry looked less studious, more frail than usual with tears lingering from his eyes.

“Your naughtiness has made Ole Lempa to be admitted, we no longer have a watchman, Ekira, Ole Lempa’s daughter will not see her father today till when he will be discharged”

“Will you pay for his medical bills?” Mr Mwangi asked rhetorically.

They then decided that each parent who had come will each cane Emale and Henry. Henry got two of the best strokes as Emale got one.

On each stroke that whistled through the air and landed on Henry’s minute behind led to him an inaudible scream.

After the beating Henry stood and apologized profusely especially to their chairman who was more at pain than anyone in the room.

Several minutes thereafter they left for their homes as Henry left for his room to sleep sniveling.

Tracy loved his brother so much that she found herself crying more than Henry.

“They beat me but Ole Lempa will never mess with me”.  Henry said feeling content.

She smiled.

Mr. Fix it – James R. Quest

When I first joined LightBox almost three years ago that was by then housed at Pawa254. We had a project which happened to be one of my first, to shoot a music video.  Sheria by Sarabi and Juliani.

At around 7am we arrived on location in Makongeni estate for the shoot. It had rained the previous night but despite the rain both cast and crew were determined to make sure that the shoot went on according to plan. Among the crew was James R. Quest who we ended up talking during the production.

James Quest as we popularly knew him is no more. He died today from a hit and run accident along Waiyaki way.

Yesterday, at around 5pm I said hi to him. We had not seen each other since the year started. He and my colleagues had come from a reconnaissance of a music video that we are to shoot over this weekend.

Before meeting yesterday the last time we saw each other was during our end year party that he joined us. He did not forget his shiny silver red bike that roared upper hill roads.

Quest was indeed full of life. Many times he called and said “baba mbona uko na stress nataka uenjoy life” this was a time when my mum had undergone surgery so I was abit stressed. He made sure everyone around him had a good time and uniquely enjoyed themselves.  I can’t forget when he led a team of almost a hundred people to Coast courtesy of Jambo jet. He was the “captain”.

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Captain’s selfie

We did many projects together some of those took us across Kenya and South Africa When in Kenya, he was never afraid of standing up against what he felt ailed the society. Regrettably, the last project he did was during 48 hour film project, “Dare or Die”. This year as you went home many of us knew we were to have met today in the morning for a shoot that you were to be the cinematographer. This meeting never took place.

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He did not miss the moment
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Director’s words

I remember last year he said that he is this world to make more people enjoy themselves and not worry so much about the future that they forget living presently.

You will be missed by your family, fellow bikers, friends and colleagues.

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While in South Africa
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Once a biker always a biker

Fireworks in cigarette

By Kenneth Jura

Henry, the second born child known to be cheeky yet his smooth oval shaped face would never depict this character. He had two other sister Tess and Tracy. Henry’s sisters were bigger than Henry and each time his play mates would tell him that instead of eating, his sisters would do so on his behalf. He had the tiniest frame in the estate, the youngest, shortest, cheekiest yet he was at the top of his class whenever they sat for exams.

His classmate Emale was two years older. He stood by the sidelines of the field as he watched his classmates play. There was a time Ronnie, he was the fairer footballer, hit him with a ball in an attempt to make him join the rest in playing. He did not barge. Fortunately, the two found a unique friendship in that Henry would be teased that he does not eat yet Emale was the contrary.

Henry’s father the headmaster popularly known as “Mwalimu” of a nearby school and the mother a clinician were both loved as they were kind save for the mother who almost loved quarreling . Mwalimu’s son was loved too by his fellow children because they were the only ones in the estate to own a TV and Henry had a ball. Two luxury things yet, a-must-have as a kid.

Henry liked Sandra a girl who was from a nearby estate, Bondeni. A field divided the two estates, to access their estate you had to go round but because boys are always boys they made an access route through the hedge for easy access whenever their ball went over the fence or whenever Henry wanted to see her. Henry and his friends had to do this very fast lest they were caught by Ole Lempa, Bondeni’s watchman who had a chimney on his mouth. He had tried severally to seal the hole but they knew just how to maneuver.

Henry’s friends feared being beaten and kicked by the one and only Ole Lempa, so whenever they kicked the ball over the fence many would melt leaving Henry to sort the matter after all it was his ball. On two occasions Ole Lempa deflated the ball and on the other he confiscated it rendering the boys powerless. As he continued with his life, Henry knew laissez-faire attitude would be hard.

Together with Emale they plotted to get back their ball through hook and crook. Sandra informed the duo that Ole Lempa had put it in his “house” that he took cover in when the sun’s rays became unbearable. The plot worked out well when Sandra pretended to have called him for tea at their house yet Emale went in to take the ball upon which he would throw it to Henry.

A day later Ole Lempa was so shocked to see them play with the same ball he thought he had confiscated.

“If the field becomes too small for you then I will keep the ball for you” said the mean looking guy.

As the game became sweeter more legs came on the tiny pitch that had yellowish grass at the end of each goal post. Emale’s cousin, Gody kicked the ball more than the field could manage and it went passed the hedge and onto Ole Lempa’s roof. They all cursed Gody for not having mindful feet and simply being a football glutton. Emale quickly rushed on the edge of the hedge to check whether the lanky watchman was watchful, he had the ball neatly tucked under his armpit ready to whip however went through . Henry did not think twice because his ball was being held by his adversary.

Head first through the hedge only to be received with “ngoto”, other children waved angrily protesting against Ole Lempa’s apparent will to punish Henry. The tall fellow held Henry by his t-shirt pushing him into his house for some thorough caning.

“Leave me alone, leave me alone” Henry squirmed in pain.

Emale struggled to go through the fence and successfully managed.

“What have you done to him, it is not fair, and we are only kids. Emale asked.

“Children who are not disciplined, children who are not obedient” retorted Ole Lempa.

“I will do to you something you will never forget in your life”. Henry said as he dusted himself hastily with tears freely flowing from his cheeks.

Defiantly, they went through the same route that they had been told not to use. Henry had nothing to lose; he had already paid the price of using it, after all.

Three months went by; Henry’s mum monitored how often he played with his ball after whispers reached her that Henry had been beaten. One Saturday afternoon, Emale and Henry were seated under the shed talking about how they would be playing with fireworks in the evening then Ole Lempa peeped through the hedge.

“Emale, come here” he said lowering his voice pleadingly.

Emale ran knowing that he would be sent.

“I want you to buy for me 4 sticks of Supermatch cigarettes at the shop” Ole Lempa said as his kneck craned both ways to avoid being seen.

As they strolled to the shop which was some blocks away, Henry told Emale that he had an idea that he wished to share after purchasing the cigarettes. After the purchase they took a different route and near Mwangi’s garage Henry took out the tobacco from the supermatch stick then put fireworks that he had in his buggy shorts, Diwali was two days away. He took another stick and did the same. Carefully he returned the contents. Henry did all this to Emale’s dismay.

“Why did you take all that time” Ole Lempa shouted at Emale

“I was doing you a favour, so stop policing me” Emale curtly answered.

He took his cigarettes and threw a five shillings coin at Emale and quickly sealed the hedge.

Henry rose from his sitting position to see how Ole Lempa would smoke.He hoped that he would start with the cigarette that had fireworks. Ole Lempa thirstily took out a cigarette lit it then followed by a long emphatic inhale while raising his head in search of ecstasy. Henry gleefully watched from the fence. Emale ran to their house.

After several puffs, a loud overwhelming bang rent the air. People around Ole Lempa’s shelter scampered for safety only to raise their heads after seeing the bony fellow down and blood oozing from his nose and mouth. As neighbors gathered around him Henry stood stiff from the fence not knowing what to do.

Sandra’s aunt, who also worked with Henry’s mother had just arrived from work. She was quickly summoned to help their watchman who was between life and death. She pinched his nose and immediately told Sandra to call Jose, the ambulance’s driver.  After 20 minutes the ambulance’s sirens were heard from a distance coming to Bondeni estate. He was put in the ambulance and the crowd that had gathered started to ask what really had happened? What led to the blast?

To be continued

Haujali – Sarabi

Ever thought twice the moment you throw away a plastic bottle out of a moving car thinking nobody saw you/ You were definitely not seen but one person saw you, Mother nature.
As part of COP21 talks to be held in Paris LightBox Africa , Sarabi band teardrops with the support of Goethe Institut Nairobi, Alliance Francaise de Nairobi, the French Embassy and the regional office of UNESCO put together this post apocalyptic video.
Remember to always #BreathResponsibly #Changetheconversation

Spectacular Samburu

By Kenneth Jura | Kenya

Les Wanyika’s song “ Safari ya Samburu” cannot fully exemplify how spectacular Samburu county is. This song a Zilizopendwa, it was a classic, explains how Les Wanyika’s journey to Maralal was. Maralal is Samburu County’s headquarters.

Samburu is scenic, spectacular with all the “S” superlatives and adjectives to describe how lovely the terrain and the people are. We stopped briefly at Naivasha then proceeded to Gilgil then Nyahururu. The road to Nyahururu is full of unseen and unmarked speed bumps, you risk running over them due to frequent rains that pound Nyandarua County. At Nyahururu we had our lunch then after an hour we hit the road again, at Rumuruti we bid bye to the tarmac and the red, dusty earth road gave us a long firm handshake welcoming us to the long drive to Samburu. From Rumuruti we played Ping-Pong on our seats passing the expansive Mugie Ranch. Along the way giraffes stood to crane for better leaves as well as look at the strangers who after a while would alight to take photos with these long, sticky animals. Just before the turn to Lake Baringo, we alighted again to ogle at the waterbucks that sat overlooking the sinking sun on the horizon.

At Suguta marmar a barrier was lifted by a young police recruit who asked us if we had that day’s newspaper. I must admit I was astonished that a cop wanted newspaper as opposed to “chai” (bribe) that his city counterparts are used to. My colleagues regretted why we did not buy at least a copy. We encountered another barrier on the stretch between Suguta Marmar and Maralal town.

We embarked on duty on our second day each time marveling at the Samburu culture and its people. We travelled to Mallaso on our second day. Mallasso has a picturesque terrain, in fact it is the same place  that Safaricom shot its “Niko Na” advert.

The following day we travelled to Losuk ward in Samburu county where we enjoyed the hospitality and uniqueness of the Samburu people as well as the various cultural and economic challenges that they faced. That would be best addressed in a different forum because this one is simply to appreciate Kenya’s beauty.

On our final day we traveled for two hours from Maralal-Kisima-Wamba road passed a small shopping center called Lorruk  then further onto the floor of the Rift Valley. Many times we forgot that a cellular network ever existed, from Lorruk river we snaked our way up to meet with Lodokejek trading center then onto Lodokejek primary school. From here we picked the school’s headmaster to take us to the remotest part of Samburu county a place called Loshoo. We were reliably told that Loshoo was the “end of the road” literally. Along the way elephants had felled several trees with their poop dotting the dusty,stony road.

Several days after our arrival in Nairobi I attended Samburu night at Bomas.

Kenneth Jura
They had to bow down for the mic

 

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How it was

Samburu is indeed a butterfly county.

Suguta Mar Mar

Elsie Mtembezi

This is one of the last small towns on the Rumururi- Maralal road. Suguta is small and dusty (there is no tarmac) with the road running through its center. The surrounding land is mostly marshy, but beautiful with lush long green grass and huge acacia trees.

Marsh surrounding the town   Marsh surrounding the town

Since it’s a small town, the only financial facilities are Mpesa and Airtel money although network coverage is scanty in most parts of the town. While there carry insect repallant and drink filtered, boiled or mineral water.

River near the town      The Church

There is only one place to stay there, I forget the name, but any person in Suguta can direct you there. It has hot showers, clean linen and a little surprise- the one day I slept there, I woke up to find a cat sleeping at my feet. He was very content there all curled up and I was more surprised than livid…

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