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Kenyans celebrate the “yes” team’s referendum vote lead August 5, 2010

Filed under: cultural observations — Admin @ 9:40 pm
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Tabitha Njoroge

“I’m the executive director of Women in Law and Development in Africa. Here in the Nairobi Chapter…I have just come from the Bomas of Kenya, where I slept last night. So I tried to tally the votes and I’m hoping this will really be a new dispensation for Kenya. So when this was announced on the radio station I said I had to come here and hear for myself what Kibaki has to say. And just to see whether the mood that he has is the same mood that the “no” leader has…We are all winners in this. They have considered defeat. They are agreeing that we need to move on as one country and forge ahead and implement which we already have right now.”

“As a woman especially, this is it! We have fought for affirmative action over the years. We have fought for citizenship over the years. I think this is a real package for women. We have been telling ourselves, if we don’t get it now,  we perhaps might never get it. It can never be this close. So, we did our best, we went out there, lobbied people. And I can tell you right now, I am one excited girl.”

“Yes, I’m a very happy Kenyan, especially as a woman. The future that lies ahead in this country is great.”

Geoffrey Kamau, 29-years-old

“We have come as they launch the new constitution, because this has already passed…

Yeah, I was supporting it, for one, it is supporting youth in many ways…in terms of distribution of resources, yeah.”

James, 30-years-old

“I’ve come to see how the new Kenya is born, yeah.”

“Basically I want to see how we are showing the changes and hopefully how the changes will change the whole of Kenya, especially the political aspect, even the economic ones…There are so many clauses which I believe will bring a lot of change in Kenya, especially in line with the choosing of the cabinet ministers and also the issue of devolution. Right now we’re going to have a lot of funds being brought down to the grassroots. Unlike the current constitution, which does not have that provision.”

“It’s historic in the sense that since independence we’ve just been having one constitution that is we’ve never had a change in the constitution. What happened is some amendments which were not so instrumental. But now that we have a constitution…in fact what we’re saying is, this constitution was drafted by Kenyans. So we now sort of think it belongs to us—that we sort of own it.”

Claire, 27-years-old

“I’m here to celebrate the new constitution. The proposed constitution has passed. I voted for it. So I’m here to celebrate…I came from work. I just heard from the media the celebration here, the president was coming to address the public so I said, ‘wow, I must be with my fellow Kenyans and celebrate together.’”

“Yes, peace will prevail and I believe corruption will reduce.”

Penina, 20-years-old and Gladell Mwangi, 19-years-old

Gladell: “We’re hear to celebrate the new constitution that we’ve just passed. And we’re happy about it. It was a very peaceful event and we should pat ourselves on the back because we do deserve it. It’s a first and we are proud of every single one of us who took part in it. We’ve been waiting a long time to see for once an election that will be peaceful and will pass in a positive way and this has been one. Even though it’s not a major one for presidential or anything, it’s important for us because it’s about the laws of the land and all that so we’re very happy.”

Penina: “Gender equality. I think something for the less fortunate, like the IDPs. I think it will do something good… There was like so much corruption in the country, so I think Kenya will be in a better position because Kenya was ranked like one of the most corrupt countries in Africa and the world at large. So we’re expecting changes like that. Plus, it was very efficient and we are very happy. It was efficient and fast, unlike the previous elections. So, basically that’s why we are here. We’ve never been to one of these gatherings but we were like, ‘let’s just go.’ Because we are really happy as Kenyans.”

Gladell: “For me as an individual I can particularly say, okay, the old constitution could not allow me to have dual citizenship but now I’m allowed to have dual citizenship. I can be an American if I wanted to tomorrow, if I get the green card or whatever. So, that’s a chance. That’s a good thing for me because I’m about to go study abroad. So that’s a big thing for me.”

Benwell, 32-years-old

“I’m here for the constitution…Yes I support it.”

“There was peace and that’s what we want to have…It is good because there are a lot of changes that will be happening.”

Edwin, 32-years-old

“I’m here to celebrate the new birth of Kenya…Yeah, it’s a new birth to us. Because since independence, we’ve had a very bad constitution. So, we believe this is going to be a departure from the past.”

“Because it’s going to bring power to the people and resources.”

“I did vote yes because 50 percent of the resources will come to the grassroots. Also our MPs will not have the power to determine their salaries.”


“Victory. It’s a victory for us. It explains itself.”

Naboth, 34-years-old

“I want to hear from the President, what he says about the constitution and we are also expecting the holiday to happen so we are here to celebrate and also to force him to give us a holiday so we can celebrate tomorrow until Monday…The meaning of the holiday would be to celebrate given that we have struggled for more than 20 years, since 1990 up til now. And because of that one we want to at least celebrate after that long struggle.”

“Yeah, I was supporting the draft constitution more than 100 percent if there is a percentage as such.”

“The reason why I’m happy, I’m happy because it is something that we have struggled for for more than 20 years. And apart from that one, if we get it, then this something of tribalism will be something of the past. In the year 2012, the presidential candidates is going to get 50 percent plus and that one with the tribalism, you cannot get that with a single tribe. So it is going to clear that. And apart from that one also, the resources is also going to be distributed equal. Because after this constitution passes, 50 percent [of resources] will go to the grassroots, that is to the counties. And that will help in building Kenya equally.”

“What is meant for me is ..it is  a new future. It is something, I don’t know how to put it. But I have a hope that in future that at least something of tribalism-for me that is the most important thing- it is going to end. We are going to have a Kenya which is developed equally without  knowing someone. Because right now, you have to know someone in order to get employment.”

Evans, 37-years-old

“I was a presiding officer with the IIEC. The referendum was free and fair. The whole exercise started well and we ended well.”

“This exercise was conducted in a very harmonious way, very peaceful. There was no reported violence so far. There was no misconduct or even manipulation of the results. So, in a real sense here, I want to commend the IIEC and even the people of Kenya. They have done the best to show that we are together. Because at the end of this we need continue to be living as brothers and sisters. They have shown that they are mature, politically, and everything.”

Sheila, 19-years-old

“I’m here just to see the ministers and Raila Odinga and Kibaki. I was in town so I saw them here, so I want to see what’s going on.”

“I was trying to wait to go home, but I came to watch here but there’s no space, that’s the problem.”

Godfrey, 58 years-old (my good ‘ole driver)

“It’s historic for Kenya because for more than 20 years we’ve been looking for a new constitution. It’s been a long journey, many people have died. Others have been maimed. And now, finally we’ve got it. We hope that with a new constitution, things will change for the better…Though it can’t be 100 percent good, it’s more better than the present one. We anticipate good things out of it.”

“Education. Promotion of youth in respect of work. Also, it’s good to the farmers, in many areas, it covers many areas. We prefer it.”

“Individually, due to my work I expect a lot of visitors to come because the country will now be very peaceful. People are now united. They are now more united than before.  Foreigners will come. Investors will come and with that, my business will be good.”

“This [peace] is what has pleased me so much because many people were anticipating violence. But Kenyans have shown a good tolerance. They have shown they like peace and they would not like to repeat what happened in 2007.”

John Kimani, 70-years- old

“I’ve been waiting for this date. I want everybody to give peace. Everybody. Even you. Even me. Everybody. I want peace…I’m very happy.”


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