Kenyan voters let their little fingers do all the talking

Thursday August 10 2017

A Facebook user shows off the indelible ink between fingers after voting. Such photos have been doing rounds on social media, a prove that most Kenyans exercised their democratic right on August 8, 2017. PHOTO | COURTESY | FACEBOOK

A Facebook user shows off the indelible ink between fingers after voting. Such photos have been doing rounds on social media, a prove that most Kenyans exercised their democratic right on August 8, 2017. PHOTO | COURTESY | FACEBOOK 

The shape, size and texture of Kenyan fingers are as diverse as their voting preferences, if the photos posted on social media yesterday are anything to go by.

Many of those who voted shared the photos widely, mostly on Facebook and WhatsApp. For many, the photos were an expression of pride at having exercised their democratic right. But it was evident that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was being economical with the ink. In previous elections, officials used indelible ink liberally to cover up to a third of a voter’s finger. But this time round, they were content to apply it only on a portion of the nail on the little finger, or on a small part in-between two fingers. But then again, there were only about 12 million voters in 2013. This time, there are slightly over 19 million.

“Happy voter,” wrote Judy Ogutu, a journalist, on her Facebook timeline, displaying her dainty fingers with only half of the nail of her little finger showing the ink. “Just elected my preferred leaders like a boss.”

Many of those who posted their photos ensured they also displayed their accessories, including rings and watches. But the biscuit probably goes to human rights activist Kamanda Mucheke who posted a photo of his inked finger against the golden characters of the Land Rover insignia.

“Yes, I have voted,” he crowed. “Fellow Kenyans, come out and vote. It is your right.”

Indeed, there was much that was said in what was unsaid.

However, for those who did not have high quality phone cameras, the images ended up being blurred and it was not clear if they had indeed voted or it was a camera trick on the eye.

It was not just the photos that were interesting. So, too, were the comments that people made after seeing the fingers in their glory, eh, and their ignominy.

Milkah Righa, writing on Facebook, said: “Slay Queens. Please remember to do your gel polish and acrylics before posting your inked fingers. Slayers don’t spot chipped polish.”

Whereas many of the photos showed fingers with light blue ink or a shade of purple, Hellen Githaiga, displaying the blot on her finger, lamented: “Seen a lot of purple-inked fingers, mine was black.” However, her friends were at hand to console her, saying she probably got too much of what is otherwise a good thing.

There were some, like that of Mburu Karanja from Mombasa, which ended up looking more like henna. Indeed, one of his friends, Kamu Mwangi, quipped: “Hiyo ni Cutex?” Another one asked: “Hiyo si hiina?” Not to be outdone, he replied: “Ni wanja.” (It’s eyeliner).

A journalist with the East African newspaper, Munyao Mutinda, asked for someone who had voted to send him his photos so that he could photoshop the image to show that he too had done his civic duty. And he warned his friends against commenting on his short fingers. The image of his watch dominated the photo that also showed his fingers.

The comedian, Teacher Wanjiku, posted a photo of someone’s fingers that shocked her followers.

“Huyo akikuchuna unaendea sindano ya tetanus (if that one  pinches you, you will need to go for a tetanus jab,)” said Opepa Guya. Many of those who commented were shocked by the stubby fingers.

All this was not lost on Pasomi Mucha, a creative writer. “Maybe there should be low-priced or free manicures on the eve of elections...” she counselled. “Jus’ sayin’, don’t shoot me.”

“Thou doth see too much!” Robert Ndei admonished her.

When all was said and posted, however, what mattered was that Kenyans had voted.

“My vote has made its mark,” declared Morris Mwangi.

“For my children,” Lucie Ilado said, in her dedication. She took care to display her dainty fingers on the dashboard of her car.

At the end of the day, Kenyans spoke. And their fingers said it all.