We crossed the border on February 28th. Many were pleased to be leaving Ethiopia yet there were also mixed feelings about the next section of our trip. Sad to leave the scenery, overjoyed to escape the stone throwing yet apprehensive of entering Kenya too. The election takes place here on 4th March. Today.
After the last elections in 2007, 1000 people lost their lives and 600,000 people were made homeless. The effect on the Kenyan economy was significant however.Many dollars were lost from tourism alone and this is an episode no-one wants to see repeated. Not officials, residents, neighbouring countries or us as riders. Safety is of course paramount and the reason we signed up for a supported tour through Africa too.
We were informed at a riders meeting in Yabello that our bike days would be reduced. Over two days we would travel around 500km by bus before the election to Nanyuki and then sit tight, awaiting the results – not necessarily the who but the what that would follow. Arriving late afternoon yesterday we settled into our room and prepared for our period of rest.
Given this section of the trip is known as “meltdown madnesss” due to the difficulty of the off road terrain we would cover I think there was also a big sigh of relief as well as disapointment. Many people have been unwell and this could be good recouperation. I plan to blog, read and generally relax. Maybe a pedicure today.
I doubt I’ll ever be in an African country again during elections so I plan to go into town later. There are no reports of problems here. Voting takes place between 6am and 6pm. The annoucement of the new president is expected relatively quickly with final results for all local officials etc by March 11th. The winner needs to take 50% of the vote and as results are confirmed how the election has gone will likely depend on whether false play is called. That’s what sparked the problems last time.
It’s a shame we have missed some riding through Kenya – at least once we saw tarmac again but, as with other riders and TDA staff the most important thing is safety. I have resigned myself to the fact that we may not ride any part of this route – other than maybe an 18km trip to the equator from Nanyuki. This way any additional riding will be a bonus. The bus is still better than a fly over.
As for my vote for Kenya – it’s simply one for peace.