The last time the IEBC was carrying out voter registration, I was very eager to be registered. I was keen to get my voter’s card and God willing this year participate for the first time in shaping the future of this great nation. Though eligible, I could not vote in the last two elections due to geographical circumstances. During the registration I kept asking people at home, in church and at work whether they had registered as voters during that voter registration exercise.
Some had registered but others said they did not see the need to. The argued that their vote will not change anything, that it would not matter in the elections since it is just one vote, it would make no difference. Some would boldly declare that they don’t need to vote, they don’t have time for things political.
I argued the case for voting to those around me, some agreed but some still felt that it’s not that important. I remember speaking to quite a number of people and it became apparent to me that about 3 out of 10 young people have not registered to vote. That translates to about 1 in every 3 which I think is a conservative figure. In other settings the number is 1 in every 2.
1 in 3 doesn’t seem like much but these figures disturb your mind when you look at them under a magnifier. If Kenya has 15 million youth who are eligible to vote, this means that 5 million of them are not registered to vote. Suddenly those numbers matter, no matter the political affiliation 5 million is a number to swing any election, especially if those youth are making voting decisions with their heads and not their pockets.
Am talking about youth who have some privileges; those who are in colleges and universities, those who have recently graduated from universities and colleges and those who have worked for a few years.
These are the young people who are most active in online activism, calling out the leaders who fail Kenyans, complaining of corruption and tribalism at every opportunity, pushing hashtags, calling for arrests, getting behind causes from the other side of their screens but come election day they will retreat to their habitats with no voters cards and no power to make the ultimate change they always talk about.
If hashtags were ballot papers, our president would come from a party called KOT.
Here is what my age group quickly forgets; that political decisions influence the jobs they are seeking, the rising cost of living, the security of Kenya and their neighbourhoods, the cost of doing business and much more.
In short, all the factors that these young people need to thrive in this nation are directly related to political decisions. If things went well in this country, the youth would benefit the most. Yet they don’t want to protest via the ballot box.
Most young people like me truly mean well for this nation. We want the best for this nation, we pray for its prosperity, we speak against the vices and are extremely proud of it success. Some of us though, think that we are alone in thinking out of the box or wanting real meaningful change. So some youth end up voting for the most popular candidates because they think the person they actually like will not win.
We follow the crowd and end up where we began. If you believe in a candidate however unpopular they are, vote for them, because you are letting your voice be heard and you are giving that candidate the confidence they need to come back in the next election if they lose. It also means that the popular candidate you don’t agree with will get a vote less. If many other people do the same, then it becomes significant and sometimes significant change takes some time.
Now that I am registered to vote, how should I approach this election?
Voting as a Christian
I am a believer in God and I would like to approach this election prayerfully. I want to go to God and ask him to help me choose for a leader that he approves of. I want to be in the will of God this coming election and I propose the same to you. The first step though is getting a voter’s card.
You see, no president has ever been prayed into state house. However good you are and whatever good you mean for this nation, no amount of prayer alone can get you into leadership. Faith here has to be followed by the action of voting. Believers all over the nation are praying for the nation, which is a good thing, but they will need to show some action. They will need to come out and vote for the person they believe God is leading them to vote for.
Leaders from God
I know you may be thinking, ‘but all leaders are chosen by God.’ Well, I thought so too until I started doing some research. Let me show you why I think it’s not that black and white.
Did Saul become king of Israel? Yes, he did. How did he become king? People wanted a king. Did God try to stop them? Yes he did. Did they listen? No they didn’t.
This story is found in 1 Samuel 8:4-9. The elders of Israel came to Samuel and asked him to appoint them a king to rule them like the other nations. Samuel was angered but nonetheless consulted God about it. God told Samuel to allow them to have a king for it was not Samuel they were rejecting but God, he also asked Samuel to warn them about the kind of king that shall reign over them.
That is how they got King Saul, and we all know how bad this story ends.
I believe that God ordains leaders to fulfil his purpose but I don’t think that all leaders are from God. This is simply because God cannot bypass our free will; our right to choose, the very thing that makes us human. God will not stand in our way just like he did not stand in the way of Israel when they demanded for a king.
In Hosea 8:4 God speaks, he says ‘they made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not. With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction.’
This is rebellious Israel at its best, transgressing God’s covenant, disregarding his laws, worshipping idols and setting up their own kings. Clearly some leaders are not God ordained but man ordained.
Have we, in this nation, through the ballot, sought for our own kings? Have we insisted on having some kind of leaders, the ones who speak what we want to hear, the ones who do the things we approve of, the ones who reflect who we are?
I know you might be having trouble relating all this to Romans 13 where it says that God establishes authorities. I do too, but am sure there is a way to understand that which we can discuss another time. God does not contradict himself and am sure he can bring understanding to that too. For now, it is clear from scripture that sometimes we insist raising up our own leaders.
God knows who our leaders will be, come August, but will they be our choice or God’s?
This does not mean that God cannot use leaders he did not ordain, he can still use them, the same way he can use our mistakes for his glory, but that does not mean he approves of the mistakes.
If God really chose all leaders for us, why does he ‘allow’ us to vote? Why go through the voting process for him to come and override our free will and install a leader? Why does he ask us to be his light and salt in this world? Does being light include the decisions that we make, accepting his guidance and not leaning on our own understanding? Do those decisions include voting? I believe that God wants us to display his character in the choices we make, including in voting.
Praying in an election year
As a Christian what are you praying for? Peace I suppose, unity most likely but are you praying for God to reveal his will concerning the candidates and eventually vote according to that revelation?
We need to be honest with ourselves, have we given voting decisions to God or have we held on to that one? Do we retreat to our default which is our tribes and our selfish desires on Election Day? Yes, the person you want to vote for may be from your tribe but have you asked God if that is his will. Surely God cannot lead us to always vote for a person from our tribe. God is not a respecter of persons.
We usually pray for God to give direction in choosing church leaders, why not for country leaders?
Let us ask God to guide us in choosing all ranks of leaders, from the MCA to the president.
Voting is participating with God in deciding the future. It is an expression of the free will that God has given us. All God is asking is for us to let him guide us, He wants to help us choose the correct leaders with his help.
As we pray for this nation, let us add this one prayer to our list; let us ask God who His choice is among the candidates. Let us diligently seek Him for direction, let us listen to His prophetic word and as true patriots let us exercise our faith by using the power that God has put in our hands, the vote, to fulfil his will.