To help encourage peaceful turnouts in national elections being held this week, an independent electoral commission partnered with Kenya’s largest mobile phone network to distribute 9.5 million copies of a popular comic book to schoolchildren. Inside each copy is a form, “Parents’ Pledge,” that encourages parents to vote. The campaign offers prizes to children who return forms with their parents’ signatures. One parent who signed the form says, “We see it as good advice from our children…When we vote wisely and peacefully we determine their future.”
What’s the Big Idea?
With eight candidates on this year’s ballot, and memories of the violence that accompanied the last general election in 2007-2008 still lingering, many different efforts have been made to ensure a better outcome this time around. All forms of media, from TV and radio to the Internet and even graffiti, have been used to promote peaceful participation. The comic book approach is an example of “pester power,” says the commission’s Joel Mabonga: “When the child presents the comics to their parents so that they can read for them, they ask them if they are going to vote…They want to be assured their parents are not left out.”
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