It's an election year in Kenya. The official nomination is near, the candidates have been positioning themselves for a while. Among other things, the president, the parliament and the provincial governours will be elected. As we were recently driving through the city, a colleague asked me what I think of all the banners on the houses. I had to ask what she meant exactly.
It turned out that many houses along the main street have banners advertising their preferred candidates on their fronts - which I missed. The only things I noticed were the banners that were hung across the street and the text that was painted on the ditches. I can't actually read either of them (i.e. not without making a specific effort and using my smartphone's zoom). Apparently, it is all about electoral advertisement.
This applies not only to election advertising but also to normal product advertising. I only notice posters in public spaces if they have a pretty picture as a background. I rarely recognize what it is about or even which brand is being advertised. With time, I learned not to look anymore. The advertising space coincides with the street scene and at best adds a couple of coloured dots to it. When certain posters are controversial, usually for political reasons, I have to be on the lookout for them to know what the discussion is about. Or better yet, let someone show me such a poster.
Incidentally, this also applies to the Internet: Here I am a nightmare for the advertising industry. On the pages that I use or visit frequently, I've learned where the ads are placed. When I'm reading a piece of text (always with a magnifier) and reach an ad-block, I just scroll over it.
Back to Kenya: What is decidedly different about the election campaign here is the noise. Various loudspeaker vans drive through the streets every day playing loud music and advertising for this or that candidate. I hear those of course.
This article is part of the series "Stargardt in Africa".