Why I Will Not Vote


There are a number of reasons I have chosen not to participate in this year’s election as a voter. It does not seem to me that anything changes with my vote. I’m not fooled by the narrative of a two-horse race, where on one side a hustler pretends to empathize with the working class ripping the rhetoric of liberation and running with it for personal gain. I’m equally unfazed by the patriot who apparently has the rights of Kenyans at heart, when prices of food shoot up aiming for the sky and we face the threat of death by starvation, waterborne disease, or lack of healthcare facilities for preventable conditions.

It would be a violation of my being to vote in this election. I would feel like a fool if I did. I wonder how in 2022 while Kenya competes with Uganda over whose military budget will tower over the other, Nairobi governor candidates promise the city residents that  water will flow from the taps finally! Fifty-nine years since independence our taps are still dry but our $1.1billion dollar artillery of arms, battleships, drones, and surveillance equipment to send Kenya’s youth to fight off proxy wars in Somalia steadily grows.

I’m not interested in casting my ballot because I have no rights. The right to life, the right to decent housing, food, education, and healthcare only exist on paper. The real world is a jungle. We could be better off trying out workers’ councils because so far a presidency has not worked for us. None has been on the side of the people.

Politicians crawl out like cockroaches from dark holes every five years; fat and destructive, ready to unleash more destruction. Their rousing speeches, laden with promises, drip honey into our ears. I remember falling for their lies in 2017. I woke early to vote in the election. I believed in the candidate I was going to choose. He promised secure neighbourhoods and inclusive bursary funds. Good roads and restitution for land grievances. He reassured an open door policy for his constituents. Year after year, none of what he’d promised came to pass. Instead, violent robberies peaked, and the slum was decimated by arson attacks. High-rise apartments rose from the rubble of decade old shanties flattened by fire. The reproductive health clinic in the ward stopped giving out contraceptives and vaccines, and was closed down due to lack of funding.

Young men and women agonized by the hopeless situation of their lives wandered the neighbourhood streets and alleys looking for food to eat and work to do. Bars outnumbered schools and playing fields. The ward meeting where constituents can exercise their civic duty to keep leaders accountable debilitated to shouting matches – where we, the residents shouted at each other lamenting to ourselves or the politician’s representative. There was no accountability and no follow-through on his promises. I wonder why I would go out into the biting cold and fool myself the second time.

Granted, an election can be a step in the reform process. I am proud of Columbia, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, and Bolivia for electing leftist leaders into their governments. I do not think that this is the election in which leftist leaders are elected into power in Kenya. Our electoral system does not inspire the kind of confidence that it will be transparent enough to allow such a thing to happen. Was it Rosa Luxembourg who said that the rich will never give you enough power to vote away their wealth? Audre Lorde insisted that you cannot use the master’s tools to bring down the master’s house. We cannot use the same system that botched the elections in 2017 hoping for different results.

When you want something so badly, sometimes you might find yourself leaning towards the closest thing that promises reprieve. In our case, we are desperate for a good leadership. We are depraved by our material conditions and without a strong liberation ideology then we will keep falling into the trap laid for us by political aspirants exploiting the poverty of our conditions promising us food and jobs. Political education first then we can mobilize ourselves into a better analysis of our conditions, in order to chart the best forward for the good and benefit of the oppressed.

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1 Comment

  1. Brian

    Powerful article