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The demented postings on social media must stop before blood flows

Monday March 18 2013

By MACHARIA GAITHO

On the very same day I proudly cast my vote, no, votes — at the General Election, I penned a piece for this very page expressing my undying optimism that we’d have a result and thereafter go back to the humdrum life without smashing out each other’s brains.

But I also had a word of caution with this final sentence: “Please, fellow Kenyans, whatever the outcome, don’t let me down. Don’t make me look foolish”.

Oh well, Kenyans turned out in the millions to peacefully vote and then patiently await the results as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s much ballyhooed high-tech digital wizardry went awol.

We got a result that was not accepted, so Mr Raila Odinga of the Cord coalition has filed an election petition challenging the Electoral Commission’s declaration that Mr Kenyatta of the Jubilee alliance won the presidential election.

Right now I feel let down, and very ashamed to be a Kenyan, for the level of post-election violence assaulting my eyes and ears every day is worse now than it was before and during the elections.

This violence is not being fought on bloody streets; it is warfare waged on the pristine, modern, middle-class avenues of Twitter and Facebook.

The level of malevolent hate, ethnic bigotry, incendiary words and totally criminal incitement would put to shame the infamous hate media outlets of the Rwanda Genocide, the newspaper, Kangura, and Radio Télévision Libre Mille-Collines.

If the owners, managers and staffers of the two media outlets that pumped-up the carnage could be found guilty of genocide and mass murder by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, it follows that those Kenyans presently polluting social media with sick and demented drivel against fellow Kenyans should not be spared if there is justice.

Now, justice does not have to wait until blood is flowing in the streets. I will sincerely give up any Facebook and Twitter “friends” and “followers” engaging in this criminal behaviour.

Meanwhile, I have a little message for them. Any time there is bloodshed in Kenya, you will never see Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto or their families in the line of fire. They may be in political competition, but they will be swilling champagne and cutting business deals in the same members’ clubs.

Their children and grandchildren will not be wielding weapons in the battlegrounds, but will be safely squirrelled away in some posh boarding schools in England, Switzerland or South Africa; or if of age, gambling and drinking away a fraction of daddy’s fortune.

A cursory look at the social media war will indicate that the “principals” are not typing out a single word in anger. They leave that to their rabid followers and hired guns who, out of misplaced sense of some ethnic comradeship or some promised reward, will throw all caution to the wind and put their bodies on the line.

The problem is that fanaticism knows no bounds. The more the rabid followers of either post angry and hateful drivel, just as fierce comes the riposte.

The din will grow louder, but eventually something might burst and the violence will move from keyboard to actual machete. This foolishness must be stopped before it gets out of hand.

Meanwhile, it is clear the Twitter and Facebook bloodletting has been fuelled by Mr Odinga’s legal challenge of Mr Kenyatta’s victory. The former’s supporters are all over the place expressing confidence they have a watertight case and accusing the media of refusing to expose the alleged rigging.

If they do have evidence that would help the petition, I would suggest they help the quest for justice through the right channels instead of demented postings on social media.

Mr Kenyatta’s acolytes are just as busy on social media with their own angry expressions of confidence that the case will be thrown out and the presidency will be back where it belongs.

I wonder, then why they must try to subvert the cause of justice by launching on social media hate campaigns against the Chief Justice and other Supreme Court judges they seem nervous about.