Saturday, 21 January 2017



Date check: Nairobi, 2.46 a.m., Thursday, 10th August 2017

"Tonight, or what's left of it, you can all go to bed and sleep soundly, secure in the knowledge that the future of our great country, Kenya, is in safe hands."

This simple declaration of hope and confidence brought to an end the short but triumphant victory speech of the leader of the One Kenya Alliance delivered to a crowd of delirious supporters at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Upper Hill. He had just been declared the president-elect by the IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati following a closely fought election that had been held, in accordance with the 2010 Constitution, on the Second Tuesday in August to decide who would become the fifth president of Kenya. But the celebrations of the news of his Alliance's victory would not be complete without the new President-elect sounding what had become his signature rallying call and his party slogan during the just ended campaigns:

"The ANSA is...." he shouted into the microphone as he punched the air in a victory salute. "OK!" thundered back the crowd of supporters.

The slogan had been coined from the full name of the nascent political vehicle that had now proved that it was fit to propel him to State House and his political alliance to government as he had convinced his partners that it would. As a response to the political angst that had engulfed the nation in the months leading up to the election, the youthful party leader of the Kenya Action Party had deftly brought together what he called an Alliance of Values rather than a Coalition of Tribes. After some consultations with his newfound political partners, they had announced that it would be called the Alliance for National Salvation (The Ansa) and that as opposed to the old coalitions which merely sought to cobble together winning formulas based on tribal allegiances, this was an alliance that brought together the whole country and that their slogan would, therefore, be simply "One Kenya (or OK!).

Once against, the youthful president-elect shouted into the night sky, "The Ansa is...." And the crowd shouted back in hopeful unison, "OK!"

With those words, holding hands with his wife and life partner and their three young children, he descended the podium for another round of warm handshakes 'high-fives' and bear hugs from the crowd of well-wishers who had gathered at the hotel to celebrate their hard-won victory.

The excited crowd, most of them young and sporting the ANSA colours milled enthusiastically about in the room toasting with their glasses and bottles of soft drinks - as a rule no alcohol was served in any ANSA event, not even the victory party. And none was needed, for this crowd was clearly high on life and hope and enthusiasm. They danced and clapped, took selfies with the President-elect and his family, and generally had a great time. If they were tired, they did not show it, though it was already way past midnight when word of their candidate's victory over the rival Kenya Freedom for Development Alliance (KEFDA) had been delivered by Mr. Chebukati on Live TV from the Bomas of Kenya. Now, no one wanted this night to end.

Though he did not show it, the President-elect's own feelings were somewhat ambivalent. He shared the euphoria, but he was also aware that many challenges lay ahead. There was also no denying that the many nights of last-minute strategy sessions and seemingly endless days on the campaign stump around the country had taken their toll and he was fighting back sleep. However was also elated and energised by the fact he and his Alliance had pulled off a near-impossible feat in beating the KEFDA to the finishing line after the most grueling campaign. Thankfully, there would be no petition to the Supreme Court as this had been an election that everyone, including the KEFDA leader in conceding defeat, declared to have been the most free, fair and professionally managed in Kenya's history. The President-elect was also keenly aware that he would not be standing here tonight had a convergence of factors not fortuitously led to the implosion of the Jubilee Alliance and the collapse of the CORD Coalition in the months leading up to the election.

To the left of the President-elect, his running mate, now Deputy President-elect Martha Karua would not let fatigue conceal her excitement. In the realignments that had led up to the election, she had abandoned her initial plans to run for Governor of Kirinyaga and renounced her initial support for Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election. She had been the first to take her NARC Kenya political party into The ANSA. She had clearly taken a gamble in being one of the national leaders to throw her weight behind the hitherto inexperienced and relatively unknown leader of the Kenya Action Party and it had paid off. Secretly, she celebrated the thought that she was one step closer to realising her own dream of one day becoming Kenya's first woman president. But that was a long way off. Tonight was the President-elect's night and she knew she would try her best in the coming days and years to support him until the time came for her to inherit his mantle and safeguard their legacy long into the future.

The dark night was relentlessly assaulted by flash bulbs as the media recorded and relayed live to the watching world this history in the making as the two triumphant presidential running mates walked about surrounded by heavy security with whom they jostled to shake the hands of their supporters.

Kenya had had eleven general elections since independence, but this had been the most closely contested, yet peaceful, one. Both candidates had run a superb, well organised and clean campaign devoid of the usual name-calling and ethnic profiling. Kenyans now hoped that their new President would be able to deliver on his campaign promises and the ANSA manifesto and that the new government would be able to capitalise on its mandate, albeit slim, to unite Kenyans and turn our beloved country, in the words of the President-elect in his victory speech, "from this republic of fear, once again into our enduring land of hope."

The triumphalism in the President-elect's acceptance speech, and the sense of euphoria among his supporters, belied the problems that lay ahead for the youthful leader as he and his alliance partners turned their attention to the task of appointing a cabinet and other senior officials who would serve in his administration. They were inheriting a country that had been brought to its knees by corruption presided over by a succession of regimes that ruled before them with the acquiescence of shady business cartels, drug lords and other local and international looters of the wealth of the Kenyan people. They were also inheriting a country that had for so long been divided along ethnic lines, that now most citizens knew that they were merely Kenyans by name. They instead had been herded by the political elites into their ethnic cocoons where they hurdled together in their artificially constructed caves of fear. How the new government handled these challenges would eventually come to define its legacy.

But tonight was a night to celebrate, and the whole country seemed to agree. For no sooner had The KEFDA leader called his ANSA rival to congratulate him on his victory an hour and a half ago, than there had been spontaneous jubilation breaking out throughout the country. Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who had stayed awake to await the results took to the streets of various cities and towns to celebrate. Nor were they merely celebrating the ANSA's victory. They were expressing their collective sigh of relief for a transition that had gone so smoothly despite the uncertainty and tension that had engulfed the country earlier in the year. This was when the Jubilee Party of incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta had started to implode and the CORD coalition of long-serving opposition politician Raila Odinga had began to collapse and the country's abiding mistrust of the old-guard politicians surrounding them had made it clear that a dangerous power vacuum was starting to emerge and things were beginning to unravel. But the two contenders for the throne quickly stepped into the breach and started to stake their respective claims to destiny as the harbingers of Kenya's hopeful new dawn.



In Part 2 of 'The Second Tuesday in August', we go back and behind the scenes to witness the two main Alliances in Kenya's emerging democratic order preparing their platforms and putting together their campaign teams to prepare for what will be undoubtedly an epic battle in their hunt for votes. We also share in the tension of a country as Jubilee starts to implode and CORD begins to collapse and everywhere in the beloved country there are signs that the old is dying, but the new cannot yet be born.


DISCLAIMER: This story is a work of FICTION. Any reference to any parties or individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. It does not, in whole or in part, reflect the views or convictions of any group, person or persons other than the author whose sole purpose in writing the story is to entertain while challenging his audience to imagine how a new Kenya might look like. The names of public figures in Kenya's politics may be used, but the characters represented by such names in this story are purely fictitious. The story is set in the future and chronicles a fictitious political landscape in Kenya.

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