The last time Kenya went for elections in 2007, things didn’t turn out well. A William Ruto death rumor that enormously went viral by text from cellphone to another is said to have been one of the major causes of the inter-tribal bloodbaths — an estimated 1,200 people were killed, thousands displaced alongside destruction of property worth millions.
In the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, James talks of how it only takes a computer to rig a Ugandan (African) election. Whether the 2007 Kenya elections were rigged or not, that is an issue for another day but technically speaking, technology has become integral part of our daily lives; right from the speaking alarm clock mobile app to M-Pesa mobile money service.
Today, 4th March 2013, Kenyans vote a president to the highest office in the land and here is why technology takes the center position in the 2013 Kenya elections.
Aware of the influence they have, the Kenya new media community is actively engaged in promoting peace this time around through social media – over 25% of Kenyans are now online. With an estimated 11,000 bloggers and almost 3 million tweets in the last 3 months, many based around political messaging.
However, a plethora of problems of poor information reach to the impoverished slums still looms. Unfortunately, these places are where all the post-election chaos breaks loose. Regardless, different platforms and initiatives have been set for various distribution channels to reach the very last person on the pyramid by impartial organizations like Ushahidi spearheading Umati, SMS based initiatives such as Uchaguzi, Google’s Kenya election hub among others to ensure a peaceful election period and aftermath.
As it all boils down, “It is not the people who vote that counts, it’s the people who count the votes.” Josef Stalin. All Kenyans should be vigilant, use the platforms created to report election malpractices, violence outbreaks, rectify rumors and promote peace. The future lies in their hands and so do their mobile phones.
Follow the hash-tag on twitter #KenyaDecides for the latest information world over about the Kenya elections in real time.