The US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter is not afraid of showing displeasure. His verified Twitter page is one of the places he goes to express his unfiltered opinions on emerging issues. On Friday evening, he engaged his followers in an animated debate over Nairobi-Mombasa Highway. He was reacting to media reports that the US government has ditched the project due to corruption by Kenyan government.
“There is so much wrong with this article, I do not know where to start to respond. Total RUBBISH,” he said.
When one Twitter user responded that Kenyans are against mega projects that add no value, McCarter called his views nonsense.
Many people wondered if there was someone else tweeting for him. His language, and aggression in the responses, at least for many of his followers, was not the language of a diplomat.
One thing that he makes clear from his social media interactions is that he does not want to be compared with his predecessors. On several occasions, he has reminded his followers that he is himself, and does not intend to change.
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A Twitter user once accused him of giving the same promises former ambassador Robert Godec had done, and McCarter said: “I am not my predecessor and you do not know what you are talking about. Please write a book about all these backroom deals you know about. I want to hear them. I will assume you are telling the truth. Unlike your assumption I am lying.”
His feisty tweets are a sharp contradiction to what his colleagues in the neighbouring East African regions are doing. The US ambassadors in Uganda and Tanzania barely engage their followers, and McCarter has a different approach.
Some of his followers find his tweets charming, while others compare him with US President Donald Trump, who nominated him to be the US Ambassador to Kenya. He was a State Senator in the Illinois General Assembly from 2009 and his active engagement on social media can be attributed to his political background. ?
He has also tweeted about corruption. Under the hashtag StopTheseThieves, Mccarter has posted several tweets on the fight against corruption.
“I Appreciate the friendship of fellow Brother from Meru DCI George Kinoti and the great work he is doing to #StopTheseThieves. Let us pray that the DCI can catch the big fish and make an example of how thievery will not be tolerated in Kenya. The US is backing you 100 per cent,” he posted.
His character and personal life comes alive on social media. His Twitter page is coloured with selfies from the many places he visits, and at times he posts about his spouse.
“Happy birthday msupuu wangu Victoria. You are keeping me young! My life is so wonderful because of you,” he captioned the photos of his wife’s birthday celebration, attracting a lot of likes and comments.
On July 31 this year, he attempted to explain why he is passionate about tweeting and using social media to communicate by saying: “40-year-old friend ask why I tweet. Remember Aerograms? I do. He remembered telegrams being charged per character. Imagine that on Twitter. Ouch. So today social media is affordable and effective - why not use it to deliver important messaging - even as a diplomat or even a president?”