Kenyan governor woos future voters by putting portrait on mock exam papers

Cornell Rasanga has been reprimanded by the Kenyan government and all 10,000 papers cancelled

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A Kenyan politician has found an innovative way to reach out to school leavers who will be eligible to vote in the country’s general election next year.

Regional governor Cornell Rasanga has placed his portrait on the front cover of some 10,000 mock examination papers distributed in the western county of Siaya.

The decision has been criticised by some Kenyans on social media, particularly after the Siaya education minister Pamela Okello openly described it as “a campaign bid for Governor Rasanga in the next general election”.

And according to the Daily Nation newspaper, the move has been met with anger from the Kenyan government, which has cancelled the mock exams and sacked the county’s entire education board.

Ms Okello had welcomed the portraits in a speech at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology on Tuesday, saying they would ensure “pupils know their governor and have a closer relation with him”.

She said the move was “just”, adding that it was particularly effective “because even close relatives to the candidates will get to see the governor in the papers”.

“We are in the process of boosting the performance of our pupils and also as a campaign bid for Governor Rasanga in the next general election,” she said.

The local government had spent KSH1.7 million (£13,700) on staging the mock exams, and the decision to cancel them was handed down on Tuesday afternoon by the education minister, Fred Matiangi. 

On social media, Kenyans had hit out at the portrait stunt as “narcissistic”, “juvenile” and “a bad omen” for the exams themselves.

It is understood seven local officials face government reprimands for the stunt, though it is unclear whether Governor Rasanga himself will face punishment.