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Meet the IEBC clerks who registered voters on donkey-back

In Summary

  • Nyiro Ward in Samburu County is a remote area where cars are a rumour.
  • If the voters would not go to Maraka and Ethikon, Maraka and Ethikon, IEBC clerks, would go to the voters……by mule!

When the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) started the 30-day mass voter registration exercise on October 4, Steven Maraka and Lobuin Ethikon got themselves a donkey.

The duo, aged 24 and 28 respectively, were among the 9,570 registration clerks hired by IEBC.

Their role was to traverse Nyiro Ward, Samburu North Constituency, and scout for people who would register as voters.

Nyiro is a sparsely-populated, desolate area, with dusty dogs that are all cousins. Sometimes, it gets so hot that a blade of grass, to quote British author A.A Gill, “counts as air conditioning.”

In addition, residents of this area are nomadic pastoralists: They move from place to place, searching for water for their animals, and pasture. How do you reach them as an IEBC clerk? You get a donkey; a donkey that can outpace their cows and goats.

IEBC Clerks Get Creative

The two IEBC clerks learnt this on the third day of the voter registration exercise. Having started out at a stationary point – kitted with the BVR, a portable power source, laptop, camera and scanner, Maraka and Ethikon realised the pastoralists were more interested in their animals and not who becomes President in 2022. If the voters would not go to Maraka and Ethikon, Maraka and Ethikon would go to the voters……by mule!

TV47 Digital reached the duo on phone from Samburu.

Every day, they said, they would strap the IEBC kit on the back of a mule, and beat the dusty paths and rocky valleys of Parkati and Loriu ranges, calling on the pastoralists to fulfil their patriotic duty.

Why A Donkey?

A usual day started at 8am. They would not be back home until dark. By that time, the pitter-patter of the mule’s hooves rung in their ear drums.

Question: Why a donkey?

At KSh1,400 per day, with natural “four-wheel drive”, and relatively cheap to run (only needs to nibble at shrubbery to keep going), it was the most feasible mode of transport.

IEBC clerks on donkey in Samburu
Maraka and Ethikon (right) were without the basic comforts enjoyed by the other 9,000+ IEBC clerks. But they endured. PHOTOS/COURTESY

Maraka is an entrepreneur while Ethikon is a casual labourer. They say that in spite of the challenges, they surpassed the registration target set by the IEBC regional office.

They are hopeful the electoral body will accord them another opportunity when the next voter registration drive is conducted before the 2022 general elections.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati says the Commission registered 1,421,710 voters against a target of  six million new voters in the exercise.

Nairobi led with 139,560 new voters, Nakuru 58,436, Kiambu 54,668, Kisii 54,089 votes, Kakamega 53,055, Bungoma 49,186, and Kilifi 40,841.

-Edited by Alex Waithaka, Nom de plume


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