This week, Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) have it. KOT is the 21st-century meeting place for Kenyans; the mighty, the powerful and the wretched of the earth. They might lag far behind countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, France, India, and South Africa in terms of numbers, but they rank at the very top of online bullying. Like killer bees that attack in groups and pursue a victim for over a whole mile — KOT are notorious for consecutive stinging.
Whether they are debating the Building Bridges Initiative or the United States presidential elections, they have a global omnipresence and sapience.
In April, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report in which they described Kenyans on Twitter as the most vicious bullies. How do they do it? The KOT militia are snipers 24/7.
They have in their online engagement portfolio, a commendation for having bullied both the mighty and powerful; they spare none—even their own. For this reason, one must have a thick skin to engage KOT vitriol. Living testimonies from CNN, Al Jazeera, Nigeria, South Africa and China shows that engaging KOT in online combat is lethal.
Kenyans on Twitter have a service charter loaded with deliverables; they troll, seduce, tweet, retweet and like. They admit members to the bigwig club (by massively following) and ignore those of 'smallwig' club (few followers). They can retrieve one’s past tweets for the purpose of haunting them if need be or ignore someone’s current ‘classic’ tweets until the fullness of time.
Moreover, KOT have distinct hierarchies—a closed system within which a certain class, profession or a bunch of similar interests launch conversations at their level. Those outside the hierarchy only retweet and 'like' the content.
It is in public domain that the Kenyan government tried to tame them in vain. In 2018, the Judiciary dismissed government’s laws meant to contain the social media users — the courts termed them unconstitutional. Before long, Chief Justice David Maraga was heard wailing from his backyard after he was thoroughly whipped by KOT.
Concerned, President Uhuru Kenyatta shouted at him on Twitter, "Mr CJ, why are you crying? We tried passing some law to help us restrain these people, but the court told us it was unconstitutional. Like the rest of us, get used to it." Who else can’t they dare?
Notably, it’s not easy to endure KOT unless you are immune to bullying. President Uhuru Kenyatta, to remain safe and sane, suspended his Twitter account. See, KOT Baraza (meeting place) is not for a 'presidential-hearted'. Unlike countries such as the US where they have only one amature online bully; the embattled President Donald Trump — KOT Baraza has top-notch experts at its helm.
The troops are intelligent, informed and creative doyens in their own respect. It is one stop shop for renowned economists. With this clique, matters economics can be 'tortured' to achieve a goal.
The KOT Baraza is where top lawyers in the region are domiciled. They include renowned legislators (senators and Members of Parliament) as well as senior counsels who have handled legal matters locally and globally.
Also 'in the house' are Kenyan legal minds and scholars in the diaspora whose stinging nettle leave heads whizzing.
The platform also has the best moralists. The guys can sniff right into your mind when you are about to shoot an offending film, petition your ‘dirty’ content in court so that when you try to upload them on YouTube, Google has already debarred it. Jesus Christ!
Then there are political spin-doctors who toss political crystal balls until desired political mileage is achieved. They are sourced from Africa’s finest think-tanks. These political psychoanalysts don’t mislead unless they choose to; and they say it.
KOT Baraza also houses innovative whiz-kids who can overpower a 5-G internet with memes in all their forms and manifestations. This way, KOT can coordinate a multimedia attack on a target.
In short, when KOT attack, stones are felt on rooftops. UNODC said early this year about KOT: "When the Third World War is fought on social media, Kenyans will end up as superpowers." Hurray!
-Dr Ndonye is a political economist of media and communication