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International Programme 2014
A Goat For a Vote Jeroen van Velzen

Student elections in rural Kenya. What do the candidates stand for? Who cares? It’s about prestige, and “little somethings” they distribute to the electorate. A basic course in democracy.

A Goat For a Vote

Documentary Film
52 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hasse van Nunen, Maarten van der Ven
Jeroen van Velzen
Alex Boon
Stef Tijdink
Daan Wijdeveld
Jeroen van Velzen
Robil Rahantoeknam
Let’s look at how democratic processes are practiced at a student election in rural Kenya: What exactly does the student representative do? Who cares. The point is the office, the prestige, the start of individual careers. The candidates: Magdalena, who traditionally has a tough stand as the only female candidate. Harry, who is dirt poor. To finance his campaign he sells fish and coconuts on the market. Said the charmer, who wants to be an army general. He is already a strategist: a photo call with the deputy who is made to stand a step behind him, putting up posters, asking relatives for money. And then this seductive smile! They all know that the only way to win is through campaign gifts. Or let’s call them by their real name, like Magdalena’s grandmother: bribes. So they distribute candy and “little somethings”. Harry even manages to wheedle a goat out of his relatives. Meat for all! Only Magdalena talks about content – which is why she will lose …
What does this teach us? School as a social microcosm teaches what promises to be successful. If the way there is through corruption, that’s a daily experience in many countries. What did they say at the beginning of the film? “The best way to understand our society is to look at one’s children”. In this sense: A vote for a goat!
Matthias Heeder