Kenyans Online are now feeling the heat. Many are attacking them for various reasons and it is mostly out of ignorance, fear, or just the need to control everybody and everything. Mzalendo Kibunja and his bunch of snoops have been bragging how they are watching Kenyans online. They are not only watching Kenyans in Kenya but also those living out of the country. I sought to know which laws have been broken and which ones are being used to target these vibrant communities. Mzalendo disappeared from his own office. Apparently someone warned him that I am not easy in an interview.
Kenyans Online are segmented. There are the Facebook generation or users, net trawlers, bloggers, online addicts, news makers, social media professionals and those who just depend on it for getting the news back home. You find those don’t know that forums like Mashada, Mwanyangetinge, Kalenjine, Jaluo.Com, Jukwaa, KCA, Mwananchi, Walalahoi or RC Bowen exists. But there are those who have been online for some time and knows where to get anything they need about Kenya. Then there is the new young, vibrant and crazy community of users and activists who are on the new social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. They are the new targets of desperate NGO, government, scared mainstream media and politicians.
The young have come under the scrutiny of the Kenyan intelligence, media practitioners and the politicians. The Kenyan intelligence fears these young men because they are very determined and vibrant. The pose the greatest danger to a regime which doesn’t lie change. The Kenyan National Security and Intelligence Service (NSIS) has been taunted online as lacking focus and concentrating its energy in the wrong places. The young people online knows their game and they wont hesitate to dare the NSIS to come for them. They know that they are doing less illegal and mostly legal things online. They know which buttons to press and they sure are pressing them.
The Kenyan mainstream media is a lot in denial. They would rather believe that community journalism is crap. I did a post on how I once found it hard to convince some mainstream media editors that citizen journalism is here to stay. They have launched various campaigns through what they call the National Cohesion and Integration Commission declarations. In a week, all the Kenyan dailies have been threatening the Kenyans Online on how they should stop fanning hatred. We know hate of tribes, races or religions is not exclusive to Kenyans online. Infact the likes of Nation Media, Standard Group, Royal Media, Baraka, Kass, Radio Africa and other mainstream media outlets churn it out alot. Listening to one of the Royal Media owned, Ramogi FM, late night programmes showed me what kind of country we live in. Just 11 hour of listening was full of the “our people targeted by them” thing.
The mainstream media have such a wide reach and have not cleaned their act. They are blaming Kenyans online for the hate messages. The internet is like Gikomba. There are all kinds of people and no matter how much you would like to control the net, you will never control it. If you succeed in controlling the net, you will break a record. Even the mighty USA has failed to block the torrent sites, wikileaks and child porn they would so much like to see go off radar.
The campaign to control Kenyans on Twitter and Facebook is not by NCIC. But it is by some mainstream media owners and practitioners who would like to see either the slow down of the growth of citizen journalism or total clampdown. They use their journalists to force the NCIC’s Kibunja, Onyango and Wako to threaten Kenyans on various social media sites. The standard called the same Kenyans online “Young guerrillas” and the Daily Nation has maintained the onslaught and threats warning the community of ‘dire consequences’ if they are convicted of spreading hate messages.
And just tonight, we hear that KTN did a feature on “Cyber Bullying” and in the featured, they used the accounts of some Kenyans on Twitter and Facebook as the background of their story. You remember the #KalekyeMumo tag. It did trend for some time. Don’t tell me that the radio presenter did now enjoy the tag. She did. See from her tweets on that day. She stirred the controversy to gain more followers. And that #KalekyeMumo was being used by KTN as the basis of their story and an example of bullying. Has the definition of bullying changed? Why should KTN use the actual accounts of Kenyans online as the basis of their story? Did Standard Group stop being professional in their journalism? And then they don’t even blurr the accounts they are featuring in a story. Why didn’t they even use dummy accounts?
They do it all the time. Clay Muganda tried and he failed. They even did it with the #actualexperts issue. The desperation of gaining online followers has pushed those who think that because they are on radio or TV, then they are ‘celebs’. Kenyans online don’t give much of a hoot. They know who is a true celebrity and they wont hesitate to tell-off the wannabes.
But it is all ignorance. You remember how the Star did a story how Kenyan bloggers are yet to make money? IGNORANCE and relying on ass kissing for stories. I know six bloggers and forum owners making good money ( I mean good. yaani Ksh 100k and above) doing nothing but running blogs, forums and online communities. The writer was doing nothing but just scaring others from the profession. The article was shallow and stupidly researched. SERIOUSLY!! Then Standard did the one on online bullying. Again petty settling of scores. Relying on an online forum discussion and call it “research”. Then the story done by a Fred Obura is listed as done by James Ratemo (they changed the online version but not the physical copy) and the article is one sided and full of Giggles rumours. Even the scribes detailed to cover tech stories knows nothing in tech, web and social media beyond covering their usual corporate advertisers.
The bottom-line is that the Kenyan media, politicians, corporates and celebrities are scared of the online community. They better join it or be swallowed by it. Mzalendo Kibunja should deploy the internet into the NCIC offices first before threatening Kenyans online. I was at the office and the lady wearing grillz on her teeth is arrogant and does not even know what a “blogger” is.
I believe that we Kenyans online are being unfairly targeted and we are being targeted by people who fears change. It is like the late 90s cry by the media that the advent of computers would lead to loss of jobs. In fact more jobs were created.