Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Republican & Democratic National Conventions: Wheels of Democracy? A dispatch from Kenya

Watching the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina last week & Republican National Convention the previous week in Tampa, Florida I couldn’t help but think what if Kenya had such conventions. This may sound farfetched but what we have in Kenya is National Delegates Conference. Though, both serve the same purpose, which is to oil the wheels of democracy. They serve as a sign of internal democracy [to nominate a presidential candidate] and fulfill party constitutions.  This and the scripted version of these events [well apart for the Clint Eastwood moment] may be the only similaries between conventions made in USA and conventions made in Kenya.
So what are the differences?
Well Kenyan conventions called National Delegates Conference are usually a one day affair. Party delegates are transported from all over the country booked in hotels and the due date they ‘just’ rubber stamp what is usually obvious. There are NO fancy speeches [like Michelle Obama well executed speech which had the Kenyan Social media was abuzz] or first ladies allowed anywhere near the podium.
However, things seem to be changing. Watching the TNA/Uhuru Kenya Party there we’re semblances with ‘conventions made in America’. There we’re fancy speeches [well ONLY Eugene Wamalwa did it for me with a well crafted speech. More like the Obama 2008 hope speech] and tele prompters. Well that’s the far as they would push it. So why was TNA able to pull this? This is because it is lead [we are so told] by young persons. Well, this would be true BUT would they call the shots if Uhuru won the 2013 polls? Or would the politicians high jack the professional party machinery… [This we can ONLY wait and see]
Going Forward
I am of the opinion the Raila camp which going by all indications might try to pull a ‘convention made in the USA’. The Raila Camp seems to be assembling a ‘kick ass’ machinery. This camp seems to be target the youthful vote. They have a presence in social media and are courting creatives [musicians-Jaguar & Redsan and reality TV celebrity Prezzo who almost won the Big Brother Africa] just like the democrats seem to have a hold of Hollywood. Also, NOT to be left behind are the other ‘youthful’ politicians [Ruto & Martha Karua]. This third force has gone forward to emulate the campaign fundraising tactics of their brethrens in the grand USA. Now they are holding fundraising dinners and a plate can go as high as Kshs 100, 000. How times change. Little has been written on campaign fund raising and politics in Kenya. But it has been an open secrets foreign funds play a key role in Kenyan politics. The big question is if the Chinese, Americans & Europeans have placed their bets on their horses. A telling sign has been the foreign trips undertaken by the presidential candidates. I bet an info-graph on this would be revealing!
Back to the USA Conventions
My favourite takes on this are; On the Republican convention I liked East Clintwood unscripted moment. I am a sucker for Clint Eastwood movies his monologue made me laugh.
On the Democrats front I liked Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton speeches.
Also appreciated we’re the artist who rocked the DNC convention. As a practitioner in Kenya’s Creative Economy this is something I will take stock of.
I think President Barack Obama speech lacked the oomph and style he had a while back when it was a joy to read his speeches. I guess being president in a declining America has its due pressures!
Now, I wait for the conventions made in Kenya. This is bound to happen because almost all presidential candidates have not named their running mates. Good times ahead await!

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