Coverage of the Upcoming Elections in the Kenyan Press
Since arriving in Nairobi last week, I’ve picked up some Kenyan newspapers to get a feel for the political climate leading up to the March 2013 elections. Most papers bring a partisan perspective to ‘the news.’ A sampling of headlines gives a feel for some of the issues being put out by the press: “Unstable IEBC Timeline Causes Fear among Electorate,” “Women Call for Fair Nominations,” “Concern as Voter Registration Kits Still Lying in Nairobi, No Clerks,” “Kibaki Vows to Crush MRC,” “State Vows to Take Tough Stand on Hatemongers.”
Sisi ni Amani – Kenya (SNAK) is working amidst this big, complex, messy reality of Kenyan National politics. Yet inspiring, essential contributions of SNAK’s work to the country’s political future remain true – promoting civic engagement at the grassroots and ensuring that citizens’ voices are heard in the upcoming elections. In the coming weeks I look forward to learning from Sisi ni Amani Coordinators how they see their work playing out in this wider, local and national scene.
Visiting Sisi ni Amani’s Offices
Today I met Jackie (Project Manager) and Caleb (Assistant Project Manager) at Sisi ni Amani’s office on the west side of the city. I transferred Sisi ni Amani video footage and photographs from their Narok project to my hard drive. Jackie and Caleb shared a bit about how the role and impact of the SMS (text messaging) platform varies in the different parts of the country where they work. In Nairobi, SNAK is using text messaging mostly to promote civic engagement, to inform citizens about voter education opportunities and debates in their communities, and to solicit input from community members as part of ongoing civic engagement work. In Narok, located in the Rift Valley several hours west of Nairobi, tensions have already been surfacing, often over land rights issues. There, Sisi ni Amani has used its SMS platform to diffuse potential conflicts, in addition to engaging locals in grassroots organizing and education efforts around the upcoming elections. Over the next weeks, I will be learning more about the different ways Sisi ni Amani staff are adapting civic engagement strategies and mobile technology tools to local conditions and employing cell phones to support this important work.
Over the weekend, Sammy and Denno were my hosts at a soccer match in City Stadium. I’m looking forward to spending more time with Sammy at his home and in his community tomorrow afternoon.