August 9

Chaos at Bomas as Ruto makes political history

Monday, August 15th, 2022 23:03 | By
Video clip of chaos at Bomas played before judges
Video clip of chaos at Bomas played before judges

In the dead of the night, the giant generators installed at the Bomas of Kenya to power the broadcast station sets snore as they keep the lights on, waiting for the day to break and for life to sprout in the tallying hall.

When the sun comes up the sonorous hum of the generators gives way to calm of tallying and verification of the presidential election results.

On the first few days, the tallying hall is a ghost town, with those directly involved in the tallying, security agencies, a handful of diplomats and the usual retinue of news hounds who have pitched tents here waiting for the big day when the results of who between Azimio-One Kenya’s Raila Odinga and UDA’s William Ruto has won will be declared.

It has not been an easy outing for them. Although they have the results at the touch of a button – all 46,262 forms in all, they do not have the capacity to tally them, so wait on the electoral commission they must.

On the last day of the tallying – Monday, August 15 – there is hardly any standing room in the tallying hall.

Anyone who can use and abuse their power and connections to get into the hall is here to witness the historic announcement that will signal the beginning of the transition from Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency into a new administration.

Although the air is pregnant with expectations as big names stream in feeling important like queen bees, it is only a matter of time before some of the people here start shedding premium tears as their rivals celebrate the declaration.

Nyayo era

To manage expectations and damp down the tension, the IEBC team has invited choirs and artistes to entertain the guests, occasionally allowing the DJ to play patriotic songs such as Roger Whittaker’s My Land is Kenya and Eric Wainaina’s Daima Mimi Mkenya.

The more upbeat renditions electrify the people and some rise to their feet for a jig. The older generation in the audience will remember a few of the old patriotic songs because they hack back to the Nyayo era when they were popularised by mass choirs that used to entertain the then President Daniel arap Moi.

“(Wafula) Chebukati is the most powerful man at the moment,” an observer quips, acknowledging just how much power the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) wields.

He is, after all, one of a handful of men and women who actually know the results of the presidential election with certainty. Everyone else is thriving on conjecture based largely on what they believe rather than what they know for sure.

The most vulnerable to this predisposition are the ordinary men and women, some in party colours, who have been locked out of Bomas by a large battalion of security officers. Every time an official of presumed eminence drives past in a big black or blue car, they ululate. That, they believe, is their man or woman going into the inner sanctum of Bomas to secure their victory. The hopes of the many rests on the shoulders of these few who have access cards.

Inside the hall, the entertainment interlude is interrupted at 2.30 pm when an IEBC official invites one chief agent from each of the four presidential candidates to step forward. That is the first signal that we are about to get down to serious business.

By 3 pm, three of the four presidential contenders have arrived at Bomas and the air is beginning to become palpable. The dancing has subsided. Audiences are no longer too keen on the music. Some start murmuring that they have probably heard too much already. On social media, some Kenyans say they prefer English Premier League updates instead. At 4 pm, nothing. At 5 pm, nothing.

Rapt audience

Some minutes to six, a dash of violence with a club-wielding shuka-clad legislator leading a band of goons attack the podium where the announcement of the winner is to be made. Fracas last about 15 minutes before the set is rebuilt and Chebukati is ushered in.

At about 6 pm, the national and East Africa Community anthems are played and Chebukati takes the podium, first voicing his fears about the challenges that he and his staff have gone through.

Then he reads the results of the presidential election, declaring William Ruto winner with 50.46 per cent or 7.176 million of the votes cast. With that, the debate about who is officially the fifth is temporarily concluded.

The President-elect takes 17 minutes and 30 seconds to make his acceptance speech to a rapt audience. He does not do notes. He just speaks calmly, his hands on the lectern.

With that, the story of Bomas is as good as told. Tomorrow, the media houses will break camp. Like nomads looking for water and fresh pasture, the journalists will squint into the yellow sun for a tell-tale sign of which direction they should head next.

In all likelihood, the next battlefield will be the Supreme Court. For now, journalists are done with Bomas. Crickets may chirp, but the snoring of the media’s generators will be silenced tonight.

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