Twitter Space like no other: For seven-hours, 1.2 million views, tweeps go hard on State, tax plans


Youthful protestors demonstrate against the Finance Bill 2024 on Kimathi Street, Nairobi on June 20 2024.


Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation

What you need to know:

  • The conversation became one of that offered a unique platform for digital accountability on the part of State officers.
  • The Twitter Space was joined by Kenyans in the diaspora, who encouraged their fellow citizens in Kenya.

Youth across the country who have been actively engaging with #RejectFinanceBill2024 are now redefining and refining the rules of engagement even as they agitate for the release of the abducted colleagues ahead of protests next week.

For seven hours on Saturday, over 60,000 X users joined a live space, hosted by @Osama otero, where a conversation concerning the ongoing Finance Bill, 2024 protests prominently featured with the youth discussing new strategies ahead of next week’s protests.

But while at least up to 60,000 X users were engaged at its highest point—the total views based on those that logged in, according to the platform, numbered a whopping 1.2 million.

The main agenda of the conversation was to ask for the whereabouts of X user, @CrazyNairobian, who was reported missing.

At some point, President William Ruto joined the conversation, albeit briefly, and exited—long before most of those in the discussion noticed him.

The conversation also featured government officials including Cabinet Secretaries  Kipchumba Murkomen (Transport), Prof Kithure Kindiki of Interior, and in charge of the police blamed for violent confrontation of unarmed protesters, as well as Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura, Digital Strategist Dennis Itumbi and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot, all of whom became target of terse questions and reactions on how the government has run its affairs, its priorities, and the force that the police used to repulse unarmed, peaceful anti-tax protesters this week.

For the social media enthusiasts, the conversation offered a unique platform for digital accountability on the part of State officers— with the youth keen to de-platform the politicians and State operatives.

In the end, it became one where the youth gave no respect for the offices the officials hold. They demanded answers on the use of their taxes, and why there was a need for more when they felt there was already too much wastage that none was being addressed.

The Twitter Space was joined by Kenyans in the diaspora, who encouraged their fellow citizens in Kenya to push back, and to explore opportunities outside, but to keep demanding the very best from the current administration.

 “I have checked with Police why Crazy Nairobian, Billy, is under arrest. I understand he sent threatening message/s. I get hundreds of those myself, & they do not bother me. But well, it is a crime. I am unable to intervene, though I strongly disagree. I will reach out to the complainant to see if he/she can withdraw,” Mr Itumbi said on his X account, at quarter to 1pm, further compounding the issue, as it is not clear which station he is held, and whether he has been allowed to talk to a lawyer.

“That said, when they used to arrest me, I used the court platform to argue truth and facts. I am of the view that INSULTS are part of free speech. Insulting and criticising public servants should not be treated as a crime. I will leave the jury to decide if sending threatening messages should be treated as a crime. I would personally not bother report to police, but that I leave to the courts to determine,” Mr Itumbi said.

“I also firmly hold that Public Servants should grow a thick skin. Some of these arrests based on your complaints are unnecessary. They may not be illegal, but they are sincerely stupid!” he added.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has said that a total of 105 people were arrested and 200 injured during the protests that happened in at least 19 cities and towns.

They include Nairobi (20), Garissa (2), Kisumu (3), Vihiga (4), Narok (4), Uasin Gishu (70), and Nakuru (2). Only 14 people have been released so far.

“The Commission therefore demands that thorough investigations to be carried out in regards to the death of Rex Masai and all those injured in the protest, especially those who suffered bullet wounds. All illegally detained persons following Thursday’s protests be released unconditionally,” Ms Odede said.

In the Twitter Space, one after another the youths expressed their frustrations about the high unemployment rate in the country that is denying thousands job opportunities.

“Many young people do not have anything to do. We have a few politicians such as Oscar Sudi who is walking with Sh20 million to a church fundraiser. How dare you take such an amount of money that can be used to create employment opportunities for thousands of Kenyans. The money is equivalent to wages that I pay employees for ten years,” posed one user Eric Amunga alias Amerix.

During the conversation, CS Murkomen who was part of the space got into a heated conversation as the users urged him to release one of the X influencers known as Crazy Nairobian alias Billy who was allegedly arrested.

“Some of the issues that you are raising are genuine. I have heard you and I will pass the message to the relevant authorities,” Mr Murkomen said before bolting out of the conversation.

The youths have also agreed to carry out a massive civic engagement in the country to increase the number of youth registered ahead of the 2027 polls.

This even as for the better part of Friday afternoon, youthful users of X and Tiktok posted concerns of friends and themselves being taken away by unknown people, in what appears to be the return of the old dark moi-era days when individuals who dissent either disappeared or were tortured and sometimes killed.

The distressed youth are posting and reposting incidents of people they know being whisked away. Popular Twitter influencer Billy also known as Crazy Nairobian is said to be missing after he was arrested at his house yesterday.               

Activist Boniface Mwangi posted on his X account that unknown assailants had attempted to kidnap him while at the City Mortuary in Nairobi. Mr Mwangi then shortly informed his followers that he would be offline to avoid any arrests.

In a video clip posted by lawyer James Wa Njeri, Mr Mwangi is seated outside City Mortuary when a green Subaru approached the gates of the funeral home. He would then be seen running towards the City Mortuary.

Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said the activist is being sought by police officers.

As of 5pm, lawyers representing comedian Erick Omondi and those from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) said they had failed to locate him after he was whisked away by police officers outside parliament where he was holding a peaceful demonstration.

His lawyer Ian Mutiso said efforts to locate Mr Omondi at the police station had proved futile.

 “We have called the regional Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and they have told us to ask the police station. The OCS also says that Erick Omondi has not been brought here. Who is this operating under the guise of police powers without being able to follow the due process? There is an attempt to curtail the rights of protesters and other Kenyans,” Mr Mutiso said.

The comedian was later released later in the night after the lawyers protested his arrest. X influencers took to the platform demanding the release of those who have been arrested.

Lawyer Willis Otieno compared the events to those being experienced during the Moi era.

Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi alleged that those who have been arrested are being questioned on the motive of the protests and asked to give names of those sponsoring the protests.

LSK President Faith Odhiambo told Nation.Africa that the society has been made aware of the ongoing arrests and is making follow-ups on a need basis.

“When we receive an alert, we are doing our best to follow up together with our teams,” Ms Odhiambo said.