Tomorrow, August 8th, the citizens of Kenya will head to the polls to cast their ballots. Here in the US, we’re blessed to have experienced years of peaceful transitions of power as our leaders change. Not every country has that experience. Election season in Kenya brings increased tensions and fear. In 2007 the country experienced horrific post-election violence with over 1,200 death and up to 600,000 people displaced. While the election cycle in 2012 went relatively smoothly, the country is still on edge as tomorrow’s elections near.
We don’t write this out of fear or to scare anyone, but rather to request your prayers as the election begins. At the end of the day tomorrow a leader for the country will be declared. We know our God holds the country of Kenya in His hands and we trust him to keep our precious children safe. The location of most of our children’s homes are quite rural. Even at the height of the violence in 2007, they were always safe.
We asked our friend Nahashon Mbugua, a Kenyan now residing in the US to share a few of his thoughts and insights about the election process in Kenya:
Like most democratic nations, it’s election season for Kenya. The Kenyan Constitution requires that there be a general election on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year. Using a modified version of the two-round system, the President of Kenya is elected and in order to win in the first round, a candidate is required to receive over 50% of the vote and 25% of the vote in at least 24 counties. The 337 members of the National Assembly are elected by two methods; 290 are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. The remaining 47 are reserved for women, and are elected from single-member constituencies based on the 47 counties, also using the first-past-the-post system. The 67 members of the Senate are elected by four methods; 47 are elected in single-member constituencies based on the counties by first-past-the-post voting. Parties are then assigned a share of 16 seats for women, two for youth and two for disabled people based on their vote share.
With 43 tribes, diversity becomes so evident especially during election times because different people tend to give support to the candidates who are either from their region or tribe. Also, religion is omnipresent in Kenya and the line between religion and politics is often thin. This is well illustrated by the fact that gospel music serves as an important vehicle for political mobilization and political leaders tend to affiliate themselves with religious groups from attending religious gatherings to changing their tones to sound more religious. Religion and politics are entwined, each to some extent complicit in the providential authority of the other.
I am requesting that we continue to pray for the current political situation and above all, that it may be a time for Kenyans to reflect on how much we need each other before and after the elections. Pray that that the Lord will graciously avail peace during this period. Pray for the children’s homes around the country, especially those supported by Chariots For Hope, that the precious kids and their staff experience calmness and God’s grace. Above all pray that Kenyans will be moved by the Scripture, in 2nd Chronicles 7: 13-16 ‘“When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”’