With a government elected by its citizens and almost every aspect of our lives affected by the decision of the leaders we elect, voting becomes one of the most important decisions that one can make. Ever since we gained the power to vote; the citizens of Kenya have had the power to decide who and how the country is run. From aspects dealing with health, infrastructure, education, economic and overall financial development of the nation, we place this critical constitutional right on who we decide to elect.
The US Embassy on Tuesday announced the launch of niShowPower, a campaign that sets to encourage the Kenyan youth to take part in this important process by registering to vote and pledging to refrain from violence.
#NiShowPower which stands for ‘Show me your power’ is a new youth voter registration and information campaign which will kick off a free concert at the University of Nairobi’s Chancellor’s Court from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday, May 15. The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials will be at the venue to register voters from Nairobi’s 17 constituencies. Kenyans who wish to register must bring a valid national ID with them to the event. Information on voting procedures will also be available at the concert, including a “mock vote” that walks voters through the poll process. In addition to all this, civil society groups will have displays to offer young people information about how to participate in their democracy.
U.S. Ambassador Bob Godec said that the participation of youth in Kenya’s elections was critical to the future of the country. As he announced the #niShowPower at the National Youth Summit last week he said, “You matter. Your voice matters. Register and vote!”
In attendance will be some of Kenya’s top Kenyan artists Juliani, Khaligraph Jones, Octopizzo, Sarabi, Dela and Sauti Sol who will perform at this free concert.
Performer Octopizzo said, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised…make a choice!”
One of the principles that holds the power of democratic participation in Kenya is the right of citizens to have a say in shaping the government but we face a major challenge – majority of Kenyan youth don’t want to register as voters leave alone vote. Many have the strong belief that they do not have a say and that their one vote won’t matter. So why should you come and register to vote?
- You do have a say
Kenya is one of the counties that has a major youth bulge, with more than half of the population consisting of youth who are old enough to vote. This gives the youth leverage in whom they elect since they have majority of the vote in their hands.
- Shape your future and that of the country
We have the power to make the ultimate decision about the leaders and laws that shape our society. Instead of focusing only on matters like fashion, music and the social scene, we also need to focus more on the decision to elect leaders who have the best interests of the nation at heart; and not just their two-week muse where they promise development that they cannot deliver.
- Voting is a right we should enjoy
In a society where we enjoy certain rights and freedoms like the freedom of worship and speech, other countries do not even have the right to vote, for example the Vatican city. It is only until 2015 when women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to vote; and this can be taken lightly but in a nation where simple day-to-day activities like driving are forbidden, the decision to vote still is a huge step forward for the country. We are therefore very lucky to live in a country where we can vote and our voices can be heard.
- You lose your right to complain when you don’t vote
If you choose not to vote, you automatically don’t have a right to get up and complain when things go wrong. Why? Because you had a choice that you didn’t take advantage of. Voting represents the fact that you want to see change. Sometimes things don’t really go the way we want them to but the fact that you decided to stand up and make a difference counts.
- Stay connected
Committing to vote automatically puts you in a position where you want to know what’s happening. You will also be interested in the key policies and initiatives that politicians on the ballot paper represent. It is important to know who your candidates are, their agenda and policies. Your vote counts so don’t just get a voter’s card be interested in what’s going on around you.
I do concur that most of the times Kenyan politics can be a bit too much to take in but some of these issues are greatly aligned to not just our future but that of generations to come. So will you just sit at home and waive your right to vote or will you decide to make a difference?
Come have a great time at the University of Nairobi. If you already have a voter’s card it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attend. Come and have fun with your friends and also make sure you bring along those friends who haven’t yet registered as voters. Please note that while the #niShowPower concert is free of charge, everyone who wants to attend must have a valid ticket in advance. Tickets can be booked and printed online at www.nishowpower.com or through niShowPower Facebook page. No one will be admitted without a valid ticket.