Reporters on the Job

Not Just a Kenyan Party: Covering his first Kenyan election, staff writer Scott Baldauf found the experience one of exuberance mixed with an element of something sinister beneath the surface (See story).

"There's a party atmosphere at campaign rallies and in the streets of Nairobi," he says. He was waiting at a cafe for a campaign cavalcade sponsored by incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, when a sound truck pulled up outside. "They weren't playing Kenyan tunes, but Congalese rumba music. That's not too unusual," says Scott, because Congalese music is basically the sound track for most of Africa. "It's hugely popular and excellent dance music."

Unlike political campaigns in, say the US, the emphasis was on the music, not the candidate or the issues. "No one was saying, 'Let's get out there and vote on Dec. 27,' or 'Vote for Kibaki,' even. There were just 20 girls dancing in the truck plastered with posters of the candidate," he says.

The ominous part? Opposition candidates are claiming vote rigging and threatening violence. There was a report of polling police killed in the hinterlands. "It's not just a big carnival. It seems there's something dark below the surface. But some here say, 'Don't worry about it. It's just a lot of posturing. We'll see," says Scott.

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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