Raila should have spoken, Twitter users say

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s snub of National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate Raila Odinga at the Madaraka Day celebrations in Nyeri Town was the single most talked-about election related story by Kenyans on Twitter this week.

A review of Twitter data by Nation Newsplex and @Twitter reveals that tweets referring to the incident peaked at 1pm on June 1, when 1,873 tweets referred to Jubilee and the President with a majority of them citing the incident.

This was the highest hourly peak relating to the two parties or their leaders and the election since the Nation Media Group started tracking election conversations on Twitter on May 5.

Most comments were harsh, with the predominant view being that the President did not act like a statesman. @WachiraDennis1 said: “UHURUTO preaching to us unity yet they can’t act unity…Your brother leaves Kisumu to Nyeri & you can’t recognize his presence…Pretenders.”

Others felt that the President was being self-defeating.  @OsiriKefah said: “Give Raila a chance to speak, he makes news. Deny him a chance to speak, he still makes moooore news!!! #MadarakaDay”

A day-on-day analysis shows that from May 26 to June 1, conversations about Jubilee and Nasa both peaked on Madaraka Day, June 1. This was the first time comments on both parties peaked on the same day. However, Nasa was most talked about at 9pm.

Tweets referring to Jubilee were almost double (48,242) the ones that mentioned Nasa (23,035), just like in the previous two weeks. But the total number was 71 per cent more than last week’s, perhaps an indication that Kenyans are beginning to focus more on the election campaigns.

A tweet does not necessarily need to be supportive towards a political party to be included in either category.

A large proportion of the tweets that mentioned Jubilee, its leaders and flagship projects were driven by hashtags that initially came from digital and social media strategists allied to Jubilee, suggesting more aggressive social media campaigns.

For example, the hashtag #ivoteukbecause was first used on March 30, 2017 by @LordTanui_, @M_mless and @AlexAlekxis, all of whom identify themselves as social media strategists or brand activators.

In a repeat of last week, 23 per cent of the comments that referred to Jubilee were positive, 19 per cent were negative and 55 per cent were neutral. On the other hand, 25 per cent of the comments that mentioned Nasa were positive, 20 per cent were negative while 58 per cent were neutral.

Who was the most talked about?

During the week under analysis, President Kenyatta was the most talked-about candidate followed by Deputy President William Ruto and then Nasa leader Raila Odinga.

More than half (55 per cent) of tweets on the 10 topics that the Nation Media Group is tracking related to the President, while about a third (30 per cent) referred  to Ruto and 13  per cent of the tweets were related to Mr Odinga.

@Vndirangu said: @UKenyatta silent while our security personnel dying on the so called armoured cars.” But  @Kenyan_Geek  was more positive about the President: “Under President Kenyatta’s watch the Kenya police force numbers have seen a significant boost. #NyeriTukoPamoja”

Raila Odinga was similarly the target of tweets that focused on Corruption. @Bett254jr said: “@RailaOdinga promise zero tolerance on corruption if voted in as PRESIDENT yet NASA principals are corrupt themselves @leemakwiny @Mwolooto.”

But @jkiagemariita  is of the view that Odinga is the leader who can slay the corruption dragon. After Odinga was handed the certificate by Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission he said: “Congrats Mr Odinga please liberate Kenya end tribalism, nepotism, corruption and bad governance, we are fully supporting you.”

Which topics drove the social media conversation?

Education was on the mind of one quarter (23 per cent) of Kenyans who tweeted about the elections last week.  The topic dislodged the economy from the top position it has occupied for the last two weeks.

A total of tweets 4,848 from May 26-June 1 focused on the 10 topics that, in addition to education and security also include: economy, corruption, health, jobs, food and water, Kenyan spirit, devolution and land reforms. In total there 95,191 tweets that referenced Election 2017.