Tuesday the 8th of August 2017 was a historic day for Kenya. It was the day Kenyan voters made big decisions on who would govern them for the next five years. Many Kenyans woke up early and queued, some for long hours, to make a decision that comes only once in five years. You could see it in their faces that they were ecstatic and full of hope for the next leadership.
Even before the elections had taken place, there were warnings that there would be violence. National and international observers and human rights actors had warned about the possible risk of election violence. The violence would target people based on their ethnic groups. Before the elections, some Kenyans living in the informal settlements in urban areas had relocated their families to their ancestral home for fear of violence.
Yet, Kenyans voted in peace and the IEBC released the results for the six positions they voted for throughout the week. On Friday, I was in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) and most of the streets were deserted. I could not get public transport back to my place and I had to use a taxi. Even then, it took a while to get the taxi because they were rare. Nevertheless, the day was a tense moment because that was when the IEBC announced the presidential results.
Things are back to normal
Still, there is proof that things are going back to normal. The elections paralyzed major sectors of the formal and the informal economies. I was out yesterday and today and I could see cars on the highways that were absent most of last week. Walking through Moi and Kenyatta Avenues, I also saw many shops open and the street hawkers and peddlers selling their wares.
I called a friend on Saturday who was in Nyeri to inquire about the situation there. He informed me all was fine. I called someone else in Nakuru. Things seem to be stable also in Nakuru and he assured me that everyone was back doing their business and that traffic was picking up from where it left the week before elections.
Another indication of stability is the financial markets. The Kenyan Shilling has remained stable against major currencies such as the US Dollar and the British Pound. For example, on 7th August, the mean exchange rate for the US$ and GB£ to KShs was 103 and 135 respectively. On 9th August, just a day after the elections, the mean was still 103 and 135. It remained stable across that week up to now.
The money markets have also picked up from where they left before the elections. Trading activity at the Nairobi Securities Exchange has finally returned to pre-election levels of more than Ksh1 billion on Friday after several days of below par participation by investors.
Another good thing about this election is that Kenyans have showed a lot of maturity. The message of stability and the need to care about their neighbors no matter the ethnic group has taken root in many parts of the country. Kenyans are becoming aware that elections are a one-time thing and they seem to know that they are affected the most when the country is not stable.
They have upheld that spirit of togetherness, peace, and stability even after the elections. Kenyans are an entrepreneurial community. With the prevailing peace and stability in the elections, many are moving on with their life and working hard to make a living for themselves and their families. Government services have also began to pick up, which is a sure sign that Kenya is moving forward.
The government is also reiterating this message of stability to instill confidence in Kenyans that business is as usual. “It’s time to get back to work and move Kenya forward,” said State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu at his first briefing after the elections. He urged Kenyans that it is now time for all of us to move forward in nation building activities aimed at achieving prosperity and development for the country. He went on to say that is time to showcase to the world that Kenya is moving forward towards the attainment of its development objectives.
Even with the indication that Kenya is moving forward, there is still a prevailing situation of unrest in a few areas. Despite that, much of the country is safe and almost everyone is back to their daily routine. The State should intervene in the areas with unrest to bring about stability and should do it in a more humane way.