As Kenya prepares for the presidential election, why are some Kenyans campaigning for both sides? world News

Two front-runners for Kenya’s presidential seat held their final campaign rallies ahead of next week’s voting.

At the Nyobi National Stadium in Nairobi, supporters chant the name of Vice President William Ruto with yellow flags on stands.

In the polls, he is only six points behind his rival and former prime minister Raila Odinga – both men say they are confident of victory.

Supporters in yellow at the William Ruto rally
Supporters in yellow at the William Ruto rally

Mr Ruto’s campaign has focused on an obvious theme: supporting the “Hustler Nation”, with him positioned as Hustler-in-Chief.

This is a catchy slogan for the youth here, who are facing a staggering unemployment rate and nearly 40% of the registered vote.

In these difficult times, young Kenyans are looking for creative ways to meet their needs.

At the stadium, we met a group of Nairobians who seemed deeply invested in the Ruto victory. dressed in bright yellow, hoisting their posters above their heads and singing along to promotional songs.

We talked to him in the car park outside.

“We are hustlers,” said Sylvester, when asked who they were.

By “hustlers” he does not mean the generic label coined by the Ruto campaign, but rather real-life hustlers operating on the political scene.

Some are campaigning for both the candidates to earn extra money

“We get paid” he says. “Rates are from 500 shillings – about $5 – $10.”

The election comes against the backdrop of a rising cost of living crisis as rising fuel and food prices have plagued millions across the country.

Sylvester explains that accepting this money from neighborhood recruiters, whom he calls “political brokers,” has become a necessity during this time of economic suffocation.

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After an hour of showing their “support” for the Vice President, they leave the stadium and travel 30 minutes across the city to attend their next paid campaign rally.

They stop by the side of the road and are safely transformed into the blue and white of Mr Ruto’s main rival Raila Odinga, with supporters on both sides.

When you face an opposing side, you have to be very cautious,” says Sylvester.

Supporters in dark blue at Raila Odinga rally
Supporters in dark blue at Raila Odinga rally
Supporters in dark blue at Raila Odinga rally

Many Kenyans are concerned about public safety during this time of tension.

In 2007, widespread violence in a contested election displaced more than five million people and killed at least a thousand. This was Mr. Odinga’s second bid for the presidency and will be his fifth.

We met him at the back of his last election rally and asked if he would accept the result if he lost.

“We will acknowledge and congratulate the winner if he wins fairly and expect him to do the same,” Mr Odinga said.

Despite these assurances, there is no certainty that fairness and peace will prevail next week.

On the eve of the final rallies, Mr. Ruto shared his belief in a clear victory.

“By all indications we have won this election,” he said, ignoring the polls.