Just a few days before the election I wondered aloud on Twitter what had happened to some my friends especially on Facebook to the extent that I could not recognize them anymore. They turned to tribal monster ready to pounce on anybody who is not from their tribes. Hate speech, right, left and centre. After the election a friend of mine took a pause from social media and explained to me that she could not stomach her friends anymore too. The last few days I have been thinking and looking closely at the demographic profiles of the Kenyans on Facebook. I found out that the largest age group is currently 25-34 and almost all of them have at least some Secondary education and above. Three facts, 1 They are well educated . 2. They are young. 3. Every Sunday they post bible quotes and do updates from the church…so they are religious.
A few things that we thought we knew about this group
- That they are not Tribal and don’t believe what they sometime hear from their fathers and mothers
- That they transcend tribal tags and make friends across the country
- That they are smart and far above the tribal politics
- That they know what is good for the country and the only people that let them down is the lower class masses who have no idea on what kind of the leadership this country needs
- That they are the thinking lot that cannot be cheated by the politicians or be bribed
- That they are the real middle class, and they really care about this country, you remember when some of them congregated to bury the 210 MPs…..including Uhuru Kenyatta , Raila Odinga , Peter Keneth, Martha Karua, Musalia Mudavadi….and Mzee Kibaki himself…..Yeah they were buried…if you get what I mean here
- That they are honest and will always demand accountability from the Public officials…
- That this is a Religious nation with religious young population
Guess what, whoever convinced us that these young, educated, religious Kenyans contain the shades of all the above in their DNA was wrong and need to come back and explain to us what really happened.
If you still believe that number one is true …Go to Facebook now and tell me what you see, what do you hear, what do you read from any wall where political discussion is taking place…on a scale of one to ten,.. measure the tribalism and the level of hate speech displayed on those walls!
If you still believe that the number two is true… Then login on Facebook and pretend or just say the side of you the two competing coalitions (Jubilee or Cord ) you support and rationally explain why you do so….then move across the aisle and pick a few weaknesses about the other candidate…log out of the Facebook and come back after 20 minutes, tell me, what you hear from some of the people who have been pretending to be your close friends from the other tribes but hold the opposite opinions….
If you think that number 3 is true …then you need to visit Oleitumbi’s Facebook wall, Gor is not club but a way of life page, Nation Media Facebook page, and other Media houses Facebook pages
If you think that the number four is true then, you have not met them justifying the actions of their tribal thieves…Maize, Kazi Kwa Vijana, Anglo Leasing, Funders of the PEV, The Land Grabbers, iebc waste of Ksh.8 billion and clearly flawed elections.
If you think that the number 5 is true ..then you have no idea where the daily propagandas on Facebook are coming from, …currently they are after the Supreme Court Judges… God help them
If you think that number 6 is true…then you don’t understand why Peter Keneth lost badly in Places like Nairobi where you would have expected him to do well with the high number of the so called middle class
If you think that number 7 is true…then ask Uhuru about land issue, and Raila about Kazi Kwa Vijana, Ruto about the Maize, Kalonzo on what he had done for his constituents in the last 20 years..come back and tell me the reactions from your dear honest friends…..
If you think that number 8 is true….then you need to talk to Dida, he publicly wondered during the debate why a country of almost 100 percent religious population will have signs of mganga in every corner. But if you look at the hatred displayed by some of the church going Facebookers, you will understand why the name of the Lord is normally being mentioned in vain.
So what it is next..if you ask me, honestly I have no idea. In ideal world Election is a process of electing Leaders to take a country to the next level but in Kenya it is a different animal. I always wonder why Politics and elections make Kenyans more tribal than anything else.
The next question is what happened and why is it that the hate speech is at its highest currently on social media? Many people including my friend are wondering how can normal learned people suddenly turned to be openly tribal and started to hate anybody else from other tribes who do not hold the same political views. My own personal view is, I don’t think people turned or started to be tribal with this election. This is something which has been happening for many years online and on living rooms. It used to happen online under the anonymous names and what I call underground blogs or forums. The forums like Mashada , blogs like Daily Post and Others used to be the home of the tribalists using fake names but then the Government and Dr. Ndemo came up with their crackdown on online hate speech. The Forums like Mashada were forced to close down and then the remaining blogs started to moderate the comments to avoid being shut down by the Government. So tribal hate mongers had nowhere to go but to use the platforms that Ndemo and the likes cannot shutdown.. FACEBOOK and to some extent TWITTER.
The above action by the Government has complicated everything for the people who love social networking sites like Facebook . Actually it sounds to me like a double edged sword for the Social Media users. On one hand it has exposed the fact that majority of Kenyans online are as tribal as it can be but used to hide it behind the fake names. On the other end it has made Facebook unbearable and shocking for many.
So will the Government succeed with their crusade to crack down on online hate speech? I don’t think so and I don’t think you can legislate or govern against the tribal thinking. It is culturally inbuilt in people and the Government telling people not say what they are think to me is not going to work. To start with the Government shutting down mashada for example did not solve anything, as people easily found new forums where they use to say the same things. The best way to go about it, is what Mark Kaigwa mentioned on the Trend with Larry Madowo: “Get the Online Community to police itself”. The best solution is for the Kenyans online to find a way to raise the collective consciousness about what they do and say online.
I always give an example of the evolution of Kenyans On Twitter #KOT, since the very early days in 2009. At the beginning there were very few people on twitter, the ones who are commonly referred to as early adopters. Back then the kind of issues people used to discuss on Twitter were high quality, top notch and beyond the simple minds. Then came the influx and Twitter became kitchen sink…worst than the famous gutter. Many would still remember Titty Tuesday and the likes but then there was a group called #TeamMorals which did not want to see that nonsense go on. They put it plain English to the newcomers that the gutter stupidity was not allowed. At long last the new #KOT emerged, ready to discuss national issues and defend the country whenever necessary. That was a simple example of a community policing itself. The few good people should not keep quiet to avoid arguments with the crazies from both sides…………I believe Team Morals can do the same with tribalists on Facebook.