Coronavirus pandemic might have changed billions of lives across the world, but that did not make it the most searched topic in Kenya. Instead, football and the US elections dominated what Kenyans wanted to know about online.
This is according to the “year in search-2020” list released by Google yesterday. The list analysed the search habits of different countries throughout the year.
Unlike most African countries, including South Africa and Nigeria, where Covid-19 became the most searched topic for 2020, Kenyan’s obsession with football and politics showed; pushing coronavirus topics behind.
“People searched to know the league standings, fixtures, and results of their favourite football clubs. Kenyans keenly followed the US elections - comparing with their own and drew comical similarities between the two,” said Dorothy Ooko, Google’s head of communications and public affairs in Africa.
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Interestingly, among the most searched phrases was “how to be successful in life,” meaning many Kenyans are still looking for ways to get out of their current situations. This was followed by inquiries on “how to become rich.” Oddly enough, there were many questions on how to grow onions. The interest in onions has been attributed to the anecdotal tales of farmers making a kill from the business.
Curfew and quarantine
On topics around coronavirus, some of the searches Kenyans were making online are: what is a coronavirus, how to boost immunity, the meaning of curfew and quarantine, and definition of fever.
They also wanted to know how to make their own masks and sanitisers. The effect of coronavirus in Italy was also a subject of interest. Jack Ma, who donated items to control coronavirus in Kenya, was also among the most searched.
A new entry in what Kenyans searched for was “how to play chess”. This phenomenon was not restricted to the country. The chess wave swept the globe, and it is attributed to the Netflix show “Queen’s Gambit” that got more than 62 million viewers in the first month it aired. The show focuses on a chess wiz who learnt the game in childhood. It was reported that there was close to a 400 per cent global increase in the searches relating to chess items.
Just like last year, 2020 also got a fair share of Kenyans looking for ways to conceive a baby boy. On the issue of conception, there was a big number of searches that wanted to know how to get pregnant. Ooko said the searches were specifically on issues around fertility, solidifying the fact that many people who struggle with conceiving use internet sources to find solutions.
School reopening dates and Education CS George Magoha were also subjects that many searched. Teachers also searched for how to fill their appraisal online.
The “Jerusalema” bug that bit corporates, churches, businesses and parliaments also got Kenyans running to the world wide web to find out what the dance was all about and how they can get into it.
For local personalities, Miguna Miguna was the most searched person in 2020, followed by Babu Owino, Raphael Tuju and Ruth Matete. Most of the people on the list were subjects of news. Global personalities who got the attention of Kenyans were Joe Biden, Kim Jong-Un, Kamala Harris and Boris Johnson.
The word “entanglement” made it to the 2020 most searched items. When Jada Smith, wife of American celebrity Will Smith, admitted to having been in an “entanglement” with another man to insinuate she cheated. The word interested many people who went online to check the video where she made the confession. Other terms that Kenyans were interested in were ventilators and asymptomatic.
There was a time, just after the first cases of Covid-19 were announced when it seemed everyone was baking banana bread. There were many videos and images of people baking at home. It was anticipated that how to make banana bread would be among the most searched recipes. It did not make the list. Omena did. Most Kenyans in 2020 wanted to know how to “make yummy omena”. There was also a spike on the number that was interested in making soft chapati and mandazi and how to bake cake on a jiko.
Despite numerous campaigns by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) urging people to file taxes, many still turned to online searches to find out how to do it. “How to File nil returns was the most searched” item on Google.
“Government bodies should look at the list and come up with items to meet the needs of people,” said Ooko.