The by- elections- the first real test of democracy in the new constitutional dispensation
September 20, 2010 witnessed landmark by-elections spurning surprising results and seemingly heralding a new era for politics in Kenya while at the same time acting as a mirror of what Kenyans can expect in the General Elections of 2012. The elections were widely reported to be free and fair with only minimal cases of electoral malpractice and the The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) was once again praised for its exemplary running of the process.

The major story of the day out of a batch of interesting stories was the upset caused by a political novice in the form of businessman Gideon Mbuvi Kioko who only joined national politics three months ago yet managed to defeat two veteran politicians to win the Makadara parliamentary seat in Nairobi. Former MPs Dick Wathika and Reuben Ndolo, hitherto seen as political heavyweights in the constituency, were beaten by Mr. Kioko, popularly known as Sonko (the local moniker or slang for a rich person)  by nearly 3,000. His victory has been seen as signifying that the  youth are now a major force to reckon with in the socio-economic and political arena since Sonko is believed to have been mainly supported and voted for by the youth. With his youthful persona and hip hop- inspired attire, Mike Sonko is a rarity in local politics and it is yet to be seen if his win heralds a new era for politics in which the youth have greater chances of holding elective office or if it is merely a continuation of the past trend where money, and not youth or leadership qualities, carried the day for Kenyan politics. Only time will tell.    

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