“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” Charles Dickens writing in 1859.
As the dust of the Nairobi political parties primaries settles, these famous words from Charles Dicken’s masterpiece came to mind. The duality of reality in Kenya‘s capital manifested itself from Mathare to Muthaiga, those on digital platforms of twitter and Facebook against who don’t know the difference between Follow, #, Like, RT and Reply. Those who painstakingly queue contrasted with those who refresh Timelines from their air-conditioned offices.
The differentiated realities between the rich, wealthy and posh against the slum-dwellers, oppressed and ‘hustlers’ reflected themselves on Friday night when Ferdinand Waititu, a popular politician and mobilizer defeated Jimnah mbaru, a corporate figure and investment banker for the The National Alliance (TNA) party ticket to face off with Orange Democratic Party (ODM) candidate Evans Kidero. The two cities of Nairobi had their derby, and the lower city hit a hat-trick with little ease.
What is intriguing is the extent to which social media users seems surprised and ‘angry’ at the candidature of Waititu. He has been portrayed as street, rough and rowdy. Mbaru on his part is branded as presentable and corporate. So, why would Nairobi, Kenya‘s capital, choose a stone throwing man than a polished gentleman, or so they asked.
The answer could be in Dicken’s work. The duality of reality and the apparent subordination of one by the powerful and colourful other. When the middle class of UpperCity were hitting F5 on their computers, the LowerCity were queueing and waiting for hours on end to air their voice.
Twitter is not a polling station. Numbers don’t lie and yes, march 4 will be no different.
Waititu did not win because of his opponents weaknesses, he won because of his strength; identifying with LowerCity, what he refers to as Ground. Mbaru focused on both cities, but his case felt choreographed. Come March 4th 2013, the two cities will queue, and history might just repeat itself perfectly.
Social media enthusiasts must know there is more to politics than RTs, #’s and SMH. It is the content of whatever they tweet that matters. That is why, for someone without a Twitter account, he was the global trending topic on Saturday morning.
The die has been cast, Hannibal has crossed the Alps, the moving finger has written , and having writ, moves on. Hate him or love him, Waititu is a master politician and Kidero will meet his match.