Kenya: Tribal hatred claims its first online casualty

When conflicts erupted in Kenya after the elections, many fingers pointed at the newspapers and radio as the sources of hatred and fanning the fires of tribal hatred that have been lit over time. None focussed much on blogs and online forums. But it has proved that even online forums have been breeding grounds for war mongers.

Mashada forum, Kenya's first online chat room was forced to close after discussions got out of control. White Africa reports about his shock:

As you may already know, I’ve been having quite a problem regulating, despite having recently hired people to moderate the forums. It is starting to become a reflection of what is going on on the ground in Kenya. I’d hate for it to hinder our current efforts since I’m directly connected to it, therefore I’m having to shut down the forums until further notice. Facilitating civil discussions and debates has become virtually impossible.

White African further notes that:

The post-election violence in Kenya is horrible. Most of the people who use Mashada are part of the Kenyan diaspora based in the US and Europe, but also a healthy amount from Kenya. So, the vast majority of people using it are seeing and hearing about the atrocities happening to their friends and family and are rightfully upset.

The situation has been so bad that some comments have had to be deleted by the moderators. Kenyan Pundits gives an example:

I’ve deleted a comment made by someone about the hate speech on Mashada, not because I disagree with the concerns raised but because I know the links included would have been bait for guys to respond with their own hateful comments.

I have recently had a conversation with David about the kinds of inciteful and hateful speech that people are putting up on Mashada, and what he was doing about it – beyond my disgust with what people are putting up there… I was/am concerned that it would undermine the wonderful work that he is doing with Ushahidi. David says he’s swamped and the moderators are burning out fast. He tried to shut down the website for a week, but that didn’t help. He is considering paying moderators, but is also welcoming ideas from others (any willing to help him with moderating).

During the times of heightened animosity, bloggers virtually took sides. Recently, Kumekucha wrote “the truth about the Kikuyus” and noted:

There cannot be and should not be any attempt to negotiate an obvious violation and abuse of office. Doing so will only further worsen an already deeply troubling situation. None of the so called high profile mediators currently in Kenya, voted in the general election of 27th December 2007, and their presence is of no value whatsoever to the masses who voted for the “de facto” President of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The continued presence of these impostors on Kenyan soil and their empty attempts at purported mediation,only serves to further infuriate and insult the overwhelming majority that voted for Raila Odinga and ODM.

On the other hand, Kenyan enterprenuer writes about Raila as an evil man hell bent on capturing power:

This idea by Raila that Kibaki is trying to kill his way to a majority in parliament is crazy and it is where Raila’s evil treachery comes into play. He is using these deaths to score political points and to spur continued violence (he knows these deaths are not connected to Kibaki!!).

Look at his speech right after Were’s death:

**Raila’s Hyperbole: An emotional Raila eulogised the slain MP, saying his life and blood would not go in vain. “His blood will water the tree of liberation… we will walk tall and stronger, we shall plant a flag on top of the mountain to remember him … Were shall be remembered … we will remember you brother.” Please Negroe , please.

Raila and Ruto have decided that if they don’t get power, they are going to plunge the country into chaos (but of course, they will not do the fighting; they’ll get others to do it for them). I believe Kibaki is being told to forget about negotiating with these two thugs. They must fight them to the end and bring them down (with the ultimate knockdown reserved for William Ruto).

Siasa duni offers to demonstrate how President Kibaki stole the election and draws a parallel between Kibaki and the Bush administration:

The events also have deeply unsettled the Bush administration, which has relied on Kenya as an ally in the war on terror and a bulwark of stability in East Africa. Official results gave Kibaki an edge of 231,728 votes, or 2 percent, out of about 10 million cast. Initial results of an exit poll by the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute found that Raila Odinga had won by an 8 percent margin. Election officials allowed five accredited Kenyan observers into the tallying centre only in the final phase of vote-counting, and three of them shared their accounts: all said that the gravest cheating occurred in that room, where commissioners—all appointed by Kibaki— compiled returns before announcing them to the public.


  • […] acrimony, Kenyans are now rooting for peace and reconciliation. While blogs and other online forums had become new avenues of channelling tribal prejudices, bloggers are now using the same avenues to express the need for peace and […]

  • […] ya tovuti ya kuanza kutumiwa kama uwanja wa kusambaza chuki za kikabila kufuatia ujambazi wa demokrasia uliofanyika nchini Kenya, David Kobia ameamua kuja na kampeni ya […]

  • James

    Let there be peace to that we can build Kenya again. In more ways than one

  • More on SMS in Kenya, from NPR.

    The story includes reporting on the viral networks that spread texts promoting violence, as well as one telecommunication company sending peace messages.

  • Linda Simmons

    I have just returned from Kenya and found that things in Nairobi seem to be back to normal. I was driving around by myself and the only thing that was really tricky was navigating the traffic that has gotten worse since I was there last summer doing Humanitarian work in Kibera with HIV/AIDS babies and their mothers. We have not been able to locate them yet.
    Kenya survives on tourism and unless we can try to get the Embassies to change their recommendation on travel there it will be a very sad situation.
    Most of the hotels were filled but filled with diplomats and buisiness people. Most of the Safari Camps in the Masai Mara have almost litterally had to close down most of their camps. I think there is a way to get people safely from Nairobi Airport, with a possible overnight at a hotel called the “Palacina” and then taken directly to Wilson airport and collected by the camps when they land.
    My Kenyan son is an amazing guide and Calvin and Louise Cottar of Cottars 1920 Safari Camp (where we have spent a great deal of time) is one of the best camps in the Mara. I feel that this is very possible and can be done without travel agents or tour guides as that can be handled by Cottars themselves. I know how to do this safely since my return about a week ago. I love Kenya and want to see it start to prosper again..

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