Five days from now, Rwandans will queue to vote for the person they prefer to lead them for the next seven years. Shortly after that the Kenyans will do the same and if you are to peep down south, you will notice that the Angolans will also get to elect the person who will take over from the long serving Jose Eduardo dos Santos at the end of August.
Elections everywhere in the world are quite interesting to follow given the unusual atmosphere they bring along. In many places it is the time for ordinary citizens to feel loved by the politicians who come to them promise all sorts of changes to their lives. The politicians obviously do not like it that much given that it is a time their performance is evaluated and could mean the end of their juicy jobs.
The political rallies obviously result in some businesses being disrupted like when a rally is held in a town and all potential customers as well as service providers turn their attention to the rally instead of what they normally do. It is wise therefore for one to keep tabs on the timetable of the rallies so as not to be surprised by the interruptions to business that may arise.
However it is not all gloom on the campaign trail. For some people the campaigns are indeed good for business and they silently wish elections were even more regularly held for the goodies to keep flowing their way. I have been observing the campaigns in Rwanda and I have noticed some interesting developments.
The most obvious observation is that the rallies for the incumbent Paul Kagame of RPF Inkontanyi are the ones with real action. It is at his rallies that masses of people can be seen and each venue seemingly trying to outperform the previous one in terms of numbers and creativity regarding the decorations.
In my view the people enjoying the campaigns the most are the photographers and the artists. This is clearly the best time for them to show off their skills as far as writing with light is concerned. Some of the best photos I have seen have been off the campaign trail. And because of the mood even sharing them without attribution is allowed to pass. Some of the great shots are wide angle shots of the massive crowds; others are of individual rally goers as well as those of the main candidate Paul Kagame.
Interestingly some of the amazing shots were taken by mobile phones proof that it is not always the machine but the skill that matters most as far as photography is concerned. I just hope that after all this; people do not struggle looking for the best photographers in town. The best works are there for all to see on social media platforms.
The artists have also had a field day coming up with stunning designs for T-Shirts and other apparels with some ideas inspired by great photographs from the campaign trail. The campaigns are in some ways a fashion extravaganza with new designs being showcased at each rally.
The other group that must be smiling each time they check their bank balance must be the hotel owners outside Kigali. You see the rallies are not only attended by residents from nearby, more people travel from the city to go and support their candidate at the upcountry rallies. Some are so enthusiastic that they travel a day before just so they can be at the rally early in the morning.
Others stay behind after a day of rallies and check into a hotel so as to avoid driving back to Kigali with fatigue. This has meant that hotels upcountry get full bookings on such days. Others cash in on the increased demand for food and beverages during such moments. I have seen friends frantically making phone calls trying to book for accommodation in different upcountry towns.
In away the campaigns have served as a chance for many to see remarkable Rwanda by stepping out of the city and heading to the countryside. Also this has been a plus for the incumbent since many get to see the state of the roads outside the city or gauge other developments as they traverse the country. And again, my prayer is that after the elections Kigali residents make time to visit the countryside even after the elections. Rwanda is beautiful and this is true even after elections.