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In season of madness, stamp out social media propaganda before it fans out

You’ve heard of that silly game of multiple holes, a mole and a mallet, right? The Japanese started it and called it Mogura Taiji. Americans came along and dramatically called it whack-a-mole.

In this game, the contestant is faced with five holes, each having a “mole” ready to pop up. The player should smack it with the mallet to score. The problem is you don’t know when and where the mole will pop up. The creatures pop up randomly and quickly, and just when you think you have one, it disappears and another pops up a few inches away. You find yourself chasing the creatures, usually a half-second behind.

Belt up, everyone. Kenya’s season of political madness is here. And media is going to have a devil of a time trying to stamp out propaganda fast, whack-a-mole style.

Things will frequently look like the drama in Kondele, Kisumu, last Wednesday, where Deputy President William Ruto’s political campaign for president went from calm to deadly in the blink of an eye, ending up with broken car windows and everyone scampering off for dear life.

Propaganda popped up in social media just as fast. At around 1pm, digital and elections strategist Dennis Itumbi, the unapologetic master of Ruto’s media war room, posted on Facebook pictures of a mangled, black Toyota Prado.

A hashtag at the top said, #MaweDemocracy. The caption read: “To majority of Kisumu residents Asante. To the few misguided ODM leaders who think #MaweDecracy will stop #Hustlernation, be advised we will continue #PoweringDreams.”

It was propaganda at its finest. On face value, a seemingly responsible media man, albeit in the payroll of a political contestant, was condemning violence. But if you scratched the surface, you’d find that the picture of a pitiful looking Prado with broken windows, smashed side mirrors, torn roof rails – a picture meant to evoke rage – was a lie.

Kenya Union of Journalists secretary general Eric Oduor quickly smacked the mole by calling it out, with humour. At approximately 2pm Oduor reposted one of the pictures of the supposedly wrecked vehicle, parked by what appears to be a tea plantation.

The caption read: “We condemn violence, and it seems Kondele is a tea growing zone.”

There’s no tea plantation in Kondele. The nearest, in Kericho or Nandi Hills outskirts, cannot be reached by road within one hour. Or did a C4, that beast of an aircraft used by the US Airforce to ferry vehicles, lift a Prado from Kondele to a tea plantation?

From here on till the ballot box next August, gear up for many more moles popping up.

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