NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenyans on Tuesday relied on social media for
updates on the swearing-in of opposition leader Raila Odinga as
the People’s President in the capital of Nairobi after the
government switched off mainstream TV stations.
media platforms that include Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
became the only channels that anxious citizens could access the
information on the event.
Odinga took oath as the people’s president, a move that the
government had termed illegal.
Initially, there were fears of chaos due to confrontation
between the police and opposition supporters after the
government banned the event.
However, police officers who had been sent to man Uhuru Park,
the venue of the ceremony, withdrew allowing thousands of
opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters to attend
But the government, through the Communication Authority of
Kenya (CA), switched off several mainstream TV stations,
plunging millions of people hungry for information into
The popular TV stations switched off included Citizen, NTV
and KTN News.
Social media, therefore, became the only channel where the TV
and citizens posted the happenings of oath-taking ceremony.
"Watch our live updates on our YouTube channels," announced
NTV, Citizens and KTN News.
However, while the broadcasts ran for several minutes, the CA
also switched off the channels leading to frustrations among
"I am trying to catch up with you on YouTube but I am being
told the channel is not available, what is the problem?" Fred
Oriko, a viewer, asked KTN News and Citizen.
The stations later turned to posting short video clips and
pictures accompanied with write ups on both Facebook and Twitter
to keep their audiences informed.
Among the information they passed was a telephone
conversation of Odinga, the opposition leader, speaking from
"Today is very historical day for the nation of Kenya.
"I would say the most important day since independence.
"We don’t recognize the Oct. 26 election because 80 percent
of people did not show up.
"Our journey to Canaan is unstoppable," Odinga told
supporters, assuring them that he would take oath, which he
later did at about 3 p.m. local time.
Even as the media tried to circumvent the switch off,
citizens too took it upon themselves to inform others of what
was happening at Uhuru Park in the capital and other towns
across the country as they shared messages and photos.
"The people have decided.
"No turning back.
"Today we have a new president," Twitted Abisai, a NASA
supporter under the hashtag #NASAOathDay, with photos of Odinga
taking oath at Uhuru Park.
"It is an oath.
"It is an oath.
"It is an oath," Dikembe, a NASA supporter, Tweeted the
message accompanied with photos.
Jubilee supporters, similarly, used the internet to pass
their messages in bid to play down the opposition event.
"The real president is in Addis Ababa with others before he
jets back into the country in the afternoon," Tweeted Jubilee MP
Ngunjiri Wambugu, mocking opposition supporters.
However, as internet remained abuzz with the event, there
were fears that it could also be the next victim.
The government prior to last year’s Aug. 8 and Oct. 26 polls
had severally warned that the internet would be shut down if it
becomes a threat to national security.
"They shut down radios and TV, then YouTube.
"Next would be internet, send your messages now but how long
can you deny people freedom?" noted Gabriel Dolan, a human
Kenya, according to the Communication Authority, had 30.6
million internet subscriptions as at the quarter ending
September, the majority of whom are on mobile phone. On the
other hand, there were about 5 million TV subscriptions.
However, while internet subscriptions are higher, TV reaches
millions of audiences because it is free, unlike mobile, where
fewer people who own smart phones can live stream events.
"Yes, TV has a bigger audience but millions today followed
the event on the internet because they had no any other choice.
"The media shutdown is certainly bad for democracy but
internet usage today has hit a historical level.
"When the service providers would announce the figures, they
would shock us," said Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT
Tuesday’s shutdown of TV stations in Kenya is the second in
about a decade, with the last seen in 2007 following a disputed
election pitting Odinga and former President Mwai Kibaki.
Kenya switches off TV
stations ahead of opposition swearing-in fete
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The Kenyan government on Tuesday shut down four
popular mainstream TV channels and several radio stations ahead
of the planned swearing-in of Opposition leader Raila Odinga as
the People’s President in the capital of Nairobi.
Odinga is to be sworn-in alongside his deputy Kalonzo Musyoka
in a controversial ceremony, which the government had outlawed,
terming the action treasonable.
Odinga and Musyoka have maintained that they won the August
election, in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the
winner and his election nullified by the Supreme Court later.
However, he was elected in a repeat poll on Oct. 26.
The shutting down of the stations followed a directive that
had asked media houses not to televise the opposition event.
Nearly all the private mainstream media stations had started
showing the event early Tuesday morning, an action that led to
Among those switched off by the Communication Commission of
Kenya (CA) were NTV, KTN and Citizen televisions and a host of
radio stations allied to the channels.
"We would like to confirm that this morning, the CA
disconnected Citizen TV and Inooro TV transmission.
"There has been no official communication as to why this
action was taken," said Wachira Waruru, the managing director of
Royal Media Services, which owns Citizen TV.
"We are actively engaging the relevant government authorities
to establish the reason for the action and we hope to resume
normal transmission soon," added Waruru, as the stations and
others turned to social media to update their audiences.
On Monday, it emerged President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy
William Ruto had held a meeting with several media executives in
which the government threatened to revoke licenses of the
stations that would air the event.
Kenya Editors Guild called the action of shutting down the
stations an affront to media freedom and noted that the media
was not an actor in the ongoing contest between ruling party
Jubilee and opposition National Super Alliance (NASA).
"The media remains a messenger and a chronicler of events
happenings in the country, which has a vibrant industry made up
of competent professional in journalists and editors that
continue to make sound decisions of what constitutes news," said
Linus Kaikai, chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild, in a
statement on Monday evening.
Some analysts on Tuesday blamed the Kenyan media for the
position it found itself in on Tuesday, noting that it had
participated in the making of its plight.
"The problem with Kenya media is that it refused to enjoy the
freedom it was given.
"It refused to occupy its own space as enshrined in the
constitution, so it should not complain," said Professor Herman
Manyora, a political analyst.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that
the shutdown of the media showed the great lengths the
government can go to deny people the right to information.
"The government has for a long time been warning the media to
tore the line or face sanctions.
"We are seeing it happen today and the entire country is now
in the dark yet a key event in the country’s history is
"Even if deemed bad, the government should have allowed
citizens to know what is happening and deal with any criminal
act in accordance with the law," said Wandera.
Human Rights activists Ndung’u Wainaina termed the shutdown
"deplorable, repugnant, appalling and showed how authoritarian
Kenyatta’s government was."
Opinion was, however, divided among ordinary supporters of
Jubilee and the opposition on the media shutdown. Jubilee
adherents welcomed the move noting that allowing TV stations to
air the ceremony amounted to incitement.
"It is the best thing to have happened to the country on
Tuesday because the ceremony would have had a spiral effect and
affected businesses in other parts of the nation," said Stephen
Kariuki, a businessman.
Moses Omolo, a NASA follower, said media shutdown amounted to
denial of basic human right.
"Information is as key as oxygen and water.
"The right to information is enshrined in the constitution
and must be guaranteed.
"With or without media, we would go on with the ceremony as
planned," he said.
The current stalemate between the government and the
opposition is expected to prolong Kenya’s political crisis,
which arose after the Aug. 8, 2017 polls.