Kenya: Netizens Discuss Kenya's Referendum

Kenyan citizens will vote in a referendum on August 4, 2010 on a new constitution. The Proposed Constitution of Kenya was the final document resulting from the revision of the Harmonized draft constitution of Kenya written by the Committee of Experts.

The campaigns for the referendum involved two camps: “Yes” camp led by the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga and “No” camp led by the church.
Two months ago six people were killed and 75 injured in an explosion at a political rally in Nairobi organized by the “No” camp.

Let's see what Kenyan citizens are saying online about the referendum. According to Chris, “No” voters fall into 4 categories:

If you feel offended by some of these reasons then you know the truth usually hurts, especially when you look in the mirror

Those voting No fall into 4 neat categories as follows.

1. Born again Christians too lazy to go on their knees and seek God (because He says in the good book that those who seek him will find him) and find out what His will is as concerns the new constitution. Instead they blindly follow what their church leaders are telling them and shut down their own thinking.

Anyway this group will blindly vote NO whatever arguments anybody tries to put forward.

2. Kenyans who believe that since the majority seem to be in favour, they will look more intelligent and independent minded by arguing against the said new constitution. Many have made a total fool of themselves interpreting the draft constitution. Some are sure that the new constitution will abolish the current penal code. Even some well educated Kenyans (including lawyers) have fallen into this trap of interpreting the draft whilst ignoring the penal code. Or interpreting individual sections out of context. My message to these guys trying to show people that they are extremely intelligent and can grasp things is that this is NOT the time. We are talking about matters of life and death here.

3. Skeptical Kenyans whose experience has convinced them that the political class can NEVER support anything that is genuinely good for the ordinary folk. To be honest I too am amazed at the way things have worked out so that we are on the verge of getting what in my view is the best constitution in Africa—by far. I am totally puzzled that some people would campaign so vigorously for something that will finish them forever. The only way to explain it is to say that there has been divine intervention in this matter and that is why Christians in Kenya should pray very hard lest they vote against the will of God on Tuesday.

4. Those who see red and plug their ears when the word “Abortion” is mentioned. Or shut their eyes tight when they read it somewhere. My message to this group is simple. I will not be sucked into the silly argument of whether or not abortion is allowed in the draft constitution. Instead I will say that abortion is NOT something that should be in any constitution. Even the holy Land Israel does not have it in their constitution, so who do Kenyans think they are?

“Kenya is in a voting mood,” says Lindsay:

Still on the same, Kenya is in a voting mood. We are voting either for or against the constitution. Oh, wait, THEY are voting. Oh no, not me. The government doesn't know I exist! Okay, I can do something about it and I am doing it, but if youve been following this, you know that I started it like three months ago! So that means, I cant vote YES. I am rooting for the constitution. It has good things for us. But I cant vote. I have an ID that doesn't look like me! Huh!

Taabu believes that the referendum will radically alter the political landscape in the country:

Whatever the outcome of next week's referendum on the proposed constitution, the political landscape and chemistry will be radically altered forever. Whether Kibaki will reshuffle his cabinet is neither here nor there but the writing is boldly imprinted on the wall. The church too must brace itself for rebranding after next Wednesday.

First the trophy goes to Moi for standing up to Kibaki to remind him he has all the right to trash the proposed constitution. At least Moi unwittingly accepted that we needed a new constitution 100 days after Kibaki took power. But his beef that the promise was not kept leaves him exposed as very petty. Is it not better to have it in less than 3000 days (8 years) than not at all after close to 9000 days (24 years) of ruin?

Granted, neither Moi nor Kibaki should be criticising each other in public. It is just not right given their ages and our African culture. But Moi should walk his talk of speaking the truth instead of selective interpretation of the draft for political and personal expediency.

Onyango writes about young Kenyan women who are pushing for “Yes” agenda:

From a few green clad women lolling around the park at around 9 am, by an hour later, things were revving up.

First a vivacious and confident delegation from the Coast rolled in speaking in animated Kiswahili about the proposed constitution. Next from the direction of Haile Selassie Avenue and the Railway Club there was a convoy of mikokoteni (yes, that's right, hand carts!) hauling young women from Eastlands, resplendent in their Warembo ni YES! green t-shirts and matching head gear. Soon, a big patch of the usually green Uhuru Park was suffused even more by that colour as the tens mushroomed into hundreds and more with women, and several men arriving for the procession.

By eleven, the blare of music from a flatbed truck equally covered in green banners and green women could be heard as it traversed the Nyayo House- Parliament section of Uhuru Highway. A very feisty twentysomething young woman who I was later introduced to as DJ Sasha (real name Benter Wasonga) was very busy exhorting women to come out in huge numbers not just to Warembo Ni YES! rally at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. Volunteers were in the meantime busy handing out flyers listing fourteen reasons why young women should vote YES, apart from handing out stickers supported by the G10 Coalition captioned in Kiswahili “Ili kuhakisha kwamba una haki ya kuishi, piga kura kwa YES” and green plastic bracelets written, ” I Vote Yes for Change”, not to forget the inevitable Green Cards to counter the Red Cards of the NO campaign.

Rombo observes that the proposed new constitution represents considerable progress for Kenyans. But…:

Here’s the drill:Most people seem to agree that this proposed new constitution has some merits and that it represents considerable progress for us as a nation in many ways and on many fronts.
However, there’s no getting away from the fact that there are two camps, ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ standing diametrically opposed to each other.
Pastor M recently offered two refreshingly eloquent analogies to explain the positions of the two opposing camps.
Folk in the ‘Yes’ camp consider Kenyans as people on a journey.
They need to get to a particular destination. Let’s call that destination Z. Z is faraway. Far, faraway. They’ve been waiting for the bus that’ll get them to this far faraway destination for a long time. Maybe they’re even beginning to despair. And then along comes a bus.
The bus will get them to point M. That’s just far, not far faraway. It’s not where they were aiming to go, exactly, but it’s much closer to Z than they are right now. And when they get to M, they know they’ll be able to find another bus that’ll enable them connect to Z.

Folk in the ‘No’ camp take a different tack:
In their view, the new constitution is like a sumptuous meal, painstakingly prepared and beautifully laid out… then served with just a touch of poison. What does one do with that? Do you ignore the poison and eat it? Would you eat it?
The important thing to underscore is that many naysayers too acknowledge the proposed new constitution is progressive in many aspects. The point is they feel it contains some deal breakers and they want those resolved before the big vote.

Sue thinks the campaings have been a bit dull:

This time round the campaigns are not as interesting as the past one, I believe it is because most politicians who make campaigns lively are not in the opposition side. There are also rumors of threats from those living in strongholds of those opposed to the Proposed Constitution; this has caused many Kenyans, whose tribes are believed to support the document vacating the regions to their homes or to other safer areas. Many are scared of a repeat of what happened after 2007 elections, when many were affected in the same region. This is very wrong; no one chose to be what they are and should not be victimized because they are of a certain tribe.

The Government is doing all they can to make sure peace prevails, all SIM Cards are to be registered (today is the deadline, many of us wait till last minute and will ask for extension) so that they can apprehend those sending threats and stop crime. Security agents have also been deployed in the affected areas. The Government cannot be everywhere, so it is up to us Kenyans and especially our political leaders to preach peace and stop being primitive. Despite the differences and the uncertainties we face in the coming referendum, we hope to get the best for Kenya and pray for peace during and after.

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