About the Author: Joseph Kabiru is CAFOD’s Media and Communications Officer for the East and Horn of Africa.
At 2:50 am on the morning of Saturday March 9, 2013, the last constituency result was posted on the board. I grabbed a calculator and began to do the maths. The magic figure of 50.03% was registered. The moment had come, Kenyans had elected their fourth president in a peaceful general election in the full glare of the international community. Then it began to rain.
After many months of agonising over whether the post-election violence of 2007/2008 would be repeated, this general election passed off relatively peacefully, although we must not forget those who died in the coastal region of Mombasa.
The oldest independent television station in Kenya, the Kenya Television Network, broke the news at 3:15am that the Jubilee candidate, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, by a sliver was able to just attain the requisite 50% needed.
This general election was a landmark one in many ways. First, this was the general election when the peace movement in Kenya won. Everywhere I went, and the many people I met before and after the voting, it was evident Kenyans were determined that history would not repeat itself. They came out in large numbers, a record 86% voter turnout. The Catholic Church, which CAFOD has supported in its civic education and peace-building work for many years, said their message of peace had won the day.
I was very impressed with the way in which the Kenyan media covered the elections: their reporting was restrained and messages of peace and non-violence were given prominence across media outlets. This was complimented by the powerful coverage of voices of ordinary Kenyan people, who made it clear that the election wasn’t just about the politicians but also about a future that would be better for all.
Saturday turned into a carnival. Trumpets, whistles and car horns were blown to signify the end of a hard-won campaign and I, along with the rest of the country, breathed a huge sigh of relief.
However, we also know that the next fortnight will be crucial as Prime Minister Raila Odinga goes to the Supreme Court to challenge the results.
So we must continue to pray for peace.