Pope Benedict XVI shocked many when he resigned from papacy. This was not an ordinary move as most of us grew up knowing that a new pope is always elected when the predecessors have passed on. But most shocking was to the most African leaders who have made their presidency to be a life time affair and for them whether they are re- elected or not a white smoke always appears due to massive rigging and manipulation of the electoral process. As I am told the process of electing a new pope is normally done 15 days after the predecessor has died, or resigned. The Camerlingo assembles the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City and the official voting is done in a process called “conclave literally” meaning “with key” by cardinals who are sworn to absolute secrecy. (Vote by secret ballot)
The cardinals pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and voting normally takes place every morning and afternoon and a two- thirds majority plus one is required for election for the first 30 ballots. After that, a simple majority is required. After each vote, they burn the ballots and add special chemicals to make the smoke white or black. A black smoke means no new pope yet while white smoke announces that a new pope has been elected. This system perpetuates democracy in church even though it is only limited to a few (Cardinals) who make the choice on behalf of the massive Catholic followers.
This system at Vatican closely resembles how our electoral system is, especially under the constitution that was overwhelmingly voted for. The only difference is that while as the Cardinals are guided by the Holy Spirit we Kenyans are normally guided by the tribal and ethnic affiliation, more so the predecessor doesn’t get a chance to name his successor like how the Former president Moi did in 2002 elections. Moi the self proclaimed Professor of politics long term reign came to an end mostly not out of free will as some school of thought may try to suggest but it was mostly out of both internal (citizens) and external (international community) pressure.
Moi before taking his last bow in active politics told Kenyans that he had searched his soul, reflected and prayed and that the only man he could endorse as the “Kenyan Pope” is Uhuru Kenyatta who was still very immature and a toddler in the Kenyan politics. But Moi stood his ground and went ahead to campaign for him but his dream was crushed by an overwhelmingly vote to President Kibaki a clear sign that the Cardinal’s (Voters) have spoken and its time Moi and his reign came to an end. A black smoke was seen at “Vatican’s” state house chimney and the former president Moi had no choice but to retire to his kabarak home.
The former president never gave up on his dream and his prophecy of Uhuru becoming the president in Kenya. Every morning and afternoon for a period of 10 years he would cast his vote at his kabarak home and mostly a black smoke continued to appear. Once in a while when he gets a chance like the way he did during the burial of the Former defence Minister and his long time friend Njenga Karume he would throw one or two statements to endorse Uhuru as the next leader and when he retires back to his Kabarak home he would cast his daily vote which he burns and a black smoke appears. I do believe this is something that the former president has done over and over again until recently during the general election where he was the first person to cast his vote at the polling station.
During the provisional results tally at Bomas of Kenya, in Moi’s heart and mind a white smoke was emerging. It was a sweet smelling white smoke of victory that had been awaited for since 2002. In his mind he was giving thanks to the Holy Spirit for finally agreeing with his 2002 preferred choice of leader but that was short lived as immediately the IEBC announced Uhuru as the President-elect the Cord coalition and Africog poured a wrong chemical through filing a petition that almost resulted to a black smoke. No sooner had the black smoke emerged than the petition was rejected by an unanimous vote by the supreme court and finally the Former president Moi can sit comfortably outside his house and whisper gently, “at last, at last I can see the white smoke “.
A Political Scientist.