Many observers have watched Kenya’s presidential election with bated breath, largely out of fear that the country could again see the kind of violence that killed 1,000 people in 2007. But on Twitter, at least, some Kenyans are sick of the attention -- and want the media to know it.
Two hashtags mocking foreign media went viral on Kenyan Twitter today, both directed at outlets that reported on the possibility of violence and disorganization at the polls. The first, #SomeoneTellCNN, lampooned a CNN report on militias were preparing for conflict in Kenya’s Rift Valley. #PicturesforStuart took aim at Stuart Norval, an anchor on France 24, who tweeted about “dramatic pictures” of “huge crowds fall[ing] over each other to vote.” Kenyans tweeted their own "dramatic pictures" back.
— Stuart Norval (@stuartf24) March 4, 2013
— Jackie Lebo (@lebo7) March 4, 2013
— Doris king'ori(@sheex_doris) March 4, 2013
These criticisms aren’t news to foreign media, who have heard them before -- both on Twitter and in more official forums. The hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN first surfaced in March 2012, when CNN aired a segment on a bus-station bombing with the graphic “Violence in Kenya.” Twitter-users complained so loudly about the allegedly misleading banner that the hashtag trended worldwide and CNN’s David McKenzie apologized for the graphic.
Since then, Kenyans have flung more playful jabs at the foreign press -- like this version of the ubiquitous “brace yourself” meme, which appeared on Twitter March 1.
— Njambi Mahinda (@kajams) March 1, 2013
— Calestous Juma (@calestous) March 3, 2013
The Kenyan government also issued a formal warning to news outlets ahead of this election. At a breakfast with foreign media, government spokesman Muthui Kariuki blamed the 2007-08 violence in large part on “information that journalists wrote and passed on to our people," Reuters reports.
"We will set you on fire before you set us on fire," Kariuki said, warning the journalists to tread carefully when reporting violence and ethnic issues.
This round of elections has seen some violence: 19 died in Mombasa after a series of secessionist attacks, and as the Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan reported on March 2, many Kenyans prepared for the type of conflict they saw in 2007.
But as dozens of Twitter users point out, Kenya saw lots of positive news in this election, too.
— Ory Okolloh (@kenyanpundit) March 4, 2013
— Marcus (@MarcusKwikiriza) March 4, 2013