‘Kenyans on Twitter’ take online demonstrations to the streets

The online protest group Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) took their demonstrations to the streets for the first time today as they expressed their anger over the move by Kenyan MPs to award themselves hefty send-off packages ahead of the country’s general elections next year.

Orchestrated by popular tech blogger Robert Alai, KOT assembled in Nairobi’s central business district (CBD) at exactly 10 a.m., responding to an online mass action call using the hashtag #KOTAgainstMPsBonus.

Reports suggest that Kenyan citizens are generally infuriated by the MPs’ move to award themselves the sum of KSh2 Billion (US$24 million) barely two weeks after the country experienced strikes by the teachers, doctors and lectures over poor pay.

Robert Alai said: “We as the social media fraternity decided to come together and voice our dissatisfaction with what the MPs have decided to do. We have a letter for the MPs and also requesting the president not to ascent to the bill.”

Young Kenyans left their daily schedules to show support for the peaceful demonstrations, with one, Michael Kamau, telling HumanIPO: “Some of us left our jobs pending just to be here and express our anger. Better lose one day’s income than KSh2 billion!”

The dissatisfaction was also evident on the placards that demonstrators carried, with one reading: “The tragedy of having 200 hyenas in charge of 2 billion to themselves.”

Another one read: “CCK Please switch off the MPs”, a satirical statement in reference to the Communications Commission of Kenya’s (CCK) recent move to switch off fake mobile phones in the country.

The protestors assembled next to Nairobi’s Hilton Hotel and marched towards the parliament buildings, singing songs full of satire mocking the parliamentarians for their actions.

However, nobody from inside parliament addressed the crowd, with any MP who entered the parliament buildings received shouts of “Mwizi! Mwizi!”, Swahili for “Thief! Thief!”

Kenyans are beginning to realise the full power of social media in addressing public issues, which is evident from other recent examples, such as the use of the same medium to condemn hate speech by one MP.

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