Of The State Of Hypernormalisation and Murder

 

I did not know Chris Msando. I was only able to attach his name to a familiar face I had seen on TV, making a case for technology on TV panels. Before his passing, he was a nobody. Just another Kenyan with unenviable task of managing a national election and like most people who work for public institutions, I supposed that he was beholden to the vested interests in his place of work.

On the day IEBC put out a report that one of their employees had gone missing, I remember feeling somewhat apprehensive. There was no name given and with the amount of propaganda flying about in this election period, it could fake news for all I cared. Nonetheless, public officials who go missing tend to wind up dead. “It is normal?” a friend a commented as matter of fact.

Please, Pick Up That Vote.

I swung by my polling station, my village primary school in Sinaga, in Siaya County to ensure that I was on the National Voters Register. I chose the mid-morning because I assumed that the early morning would be buzzing with excited first time voters and political party mobilisers. When I arrived, I thought it was the wrong venue until I noticed the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) officials seated behind a desk under a lone tree in the school compound. A young man and woman in bright green branded reflective jackets, were glued to their phones, like they were surfing Facebook. After confirming my details, I asked them where everyone was and they shot back a blank look. Traffic had been near absent. We made a joke about Kenyans and our last-minute culture.

The next day, I passed by the same venue to collect some details from the primary school and found the same IEBC duo having chapatti and dengu. They looked relieved to see a familiar face and even invited me for lunch. The numbers were not even trickling in at all.

The Anatomy Of A Kenyan Demonstrator

A politician, a civil society lawyer, a hustler, a curious mwananchi and an activist met at an anti-government protest and started talking about what got them to be part of it.

The lawyer said, “I have always been curious about the social dynamics of people power, in exercising rights to dissent against institutionalized polity and how they organize as non-institutionalized political actors”.

The veteran activist said, “I have been active since the late 70s. I demonstrated with Tito Adungosi and Jimmy Orengo before he was expelled from University of Nairobi. I walked with Matiba and Rubia. Raila several times and even shared a cell with him briefly in Kamiti. We ate tear gas with Uhuru during his KANU days and I was there for Kibaki during the NARC era. Bwana, we are the original TeamCourage”.

Of Social Media And Weapons Of Mass Distraction

A man named Boniface Manono was the focus of a headline story about the anti-IEBC demonstrations in Nairobi and police brutality that was turned on demonstrators. Mr. Manono moved from obscurity, to sympathy, notoriety and fame in under 48 hours. He was killed, resurrected, castigated and celebrated on social media. Boniface Manono may have been a victim of police brutality, in what appeared to be a near death beating captured on camera but by the next day, he was up and bouncy defending his version of events in newsrooms. He was beaten to death and lived to tell the story.

I stumbled on the Boniface Manono episode on my compulsive Facebook visits, scanning for trending stories which now passes for research in my profession. I had not even made sense of Saleh “James Bond” Wanjala, (the man who hanged precariously from to an airborne helicopter for over a mile and lived to tell his story), before Manono intriguing tale of survival flooded my Facebook timeline, Twitter feed and Whatsapp groups.