I have a nine by five point five card in my pocket. It has my name an elector’s number and a serial number. I got it long before the deadline trust me, and this card is as constitutional as it can be. It gives me the power to exercise national choice and as they say nowadays gives me individual leverage to exercise my democratic rights. That’s my voters’ card. Funny enough I use this card once in five years. This means, I have only one opportunity in five years to voluntarily participate constitutionally in an exercise of national choice, except when there is a referendum, or when you try to negotiate yourself into a Nairobi building and have to leave it for ‘safe’ passage.
I have another card it is about a centimeter by a centimeter and a half. It is green in color and embedded in it is other people’s numbers (about three hundred) and it in itself identified as a number, my cell phone number. My mobile service provider has my name my identification number and of course the number that my SIM card is identified by. Unlike the constitutional one, my voter’s card, I use this other card almost daily to call and receive calls, to carry money, to transfer money, to incubate messages and send them too. I do not use this one to exercise any democratic rights, except of course when I am deluded to contribute in the nine o’clock news polls.
Which would you rather forget at home on Monday morning the SIM card or the voters’ card? Both are forms of media. One amplifies our daily social interactions ‘micro largely’ integrating other forms of social dependency namely banking, calling plus texting, and storage of data. The other amplifies a vital albeit minor contribution of political and national participation every five years. It is the closest I get to politics outside of a party. How do we judge which of the cards is important? Or are they equal? How do we measure this importance? Both seem needful but one has become the centerpiece of collective and individual daily decision making – the SIM.
Why the SIM Card . . .
Both the SIM and Voters’ card present you with choices at different levels.
A SIM card allows you to reset unlike a voters card. The digital platform of the SIM allows you to reconfigure any piece of information. You can add or delete or store. The voters’ card is very analog and requires a once in five year’s event like registration or referendum to change any details.
The voters’ card is a reductionist item. In as much as we would like to assume a lot goes into making a political choices, the voters’ card has only two opposing choices yes or no. the SIM card makes us use quite some brain energy, do I reply the text, as I punch away what am I responding to? What was the password again . . . the SIM card is more engaging mentally. The voters card needs only to be submitted and details clarified by an election clerk, everything is done for you to say Yes or No then carry it once again in your wallet for the next five years as you make and unmake your mind about the politics of the day.
Sim is easily replaceable. The Sim costs under Ksh. 100 that’s a dollar plus or under sometimes. If you lose your voters card you might want to wait till the next voters registration exercise. It is not easily replaceable because of the nature of its function. You need an event to replace it, It false slightly short of the national identity card. In fact it has your national identity card number on it. I wonder whether its national importance contributes towards its minimal use.
Sim and digital- at the push of a button using your cell phone you can plug into the virtual world and be virtually and globally connected. The Sim has the dual ability to localize you and also globalize you. It allows you to move between identities from nationalism to globalism. It plugs you into a complicated web of social networks. The voters’ card isolates you even from those who you share a common political decision that is why we vote secretly.
Last modified: April 14, 2020