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‘Ruto must go’, but which one? Social media distortions of Baringo protest


This report covers issues picked from November 27 to December 3, 2023. They include President William Ruto’s climate endeavours at COP28, Ruto Must Go, #Dubai, #FinanceAct2023, Housing Levy & High Court, and World Aids Day. The report delves into the resonating echoes of the week’s digital dialogues, exploring their impact on media landscapes and public perception.

Ruto must go

On November 26, the Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport Kipchumba Murkomen experienced an agitated reception from Baringo residents as he sought to address them following the County Governor’s Cup match. The disruptive atmosphere prompted the Roads CS to cut short his speech abruptly, exiting the Kabarnet ASK showground with other political leaders in tow. During the chaos, the crowd voiced their dissatisfaction by chanting, “Ruto must go,” reflecting their frustration towards Football Kenya Federation officials. It’s worth noting that the Ruto in question was not President William Ruto, but rather a specific FKF official responsible for grassroots football, who had evidently provoked the ire of the gathered crowd.

The rallying cry, “Ruto must go,” echoed through the incident, eventually gaining considerable traction online. Remarkably, the hashtag trended at the top spot for more than seven hours, further amplifying the intensity of the community’s displeasure towards the FKF official in question.

Impact on media

The dramatic and sensational nature of the incident led to increased news consumption. People are more inclined to follow and engage with stories that involve political figures, public disruption, and trending hashtags.

The hashtag “Ruto must go” trending for over 7 hours suggests a substantial impact on social media. Social media platforms become primary spaces for discussions, with users sharing, commenting, and creating additional content related to the incident.

#FinanceAct2023, Housing Levy and High Court

In a significant development, the High Court in Nairobi declared President William Ruto’s new housing levy as unconstitutional. Justices Lawrence Mugambi, Christine Meoli, and David Majanja cited discrimination in imposition of the tax solely on salaried Kenyans, excluding those in the informal sector. In response to this ruling, lawyer George Murungara appealed to the three-judge bench for a 45-day stay, allowing time for the government to consider its next steps.

The hashtag #FinanceAct2023 gained significant traction, trending for over 21 hours. Furthermore, the topic of Housing Levy garnered attention with 25,000 tweets, also trending for more than 21 hours. Simultaneously, the term “High Court” trended extensively with 39,000 tweets for a similar duration. These trends underscore the public’s keen interest and engagement with the legal developments surrounding the housing levy and associated matters.

Impact on media

The ruling led to an immediate surge in media coverage, with news outlets, both traditional and digital, extensively reporting on the court’s decision. This heightened coverage contributes to increased public awareness of the issue. The trending hashtags and prolonged discussions on social media platforms indicate heightened public engagement with the news. This increased interaction reflects a strong interest and active participation of the public in discussions related to the housing levy, taxation policies, and legal matters.


#WorldAIDSDay made a powerful impact, trending with 48,000 tweets for over 21 hours. Observed annually on December 1, World AIDS Day serves as a crucial platform to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS while building solidarity with those affected by the global health issue. It is also a moment to spotlight ongoing efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS.

Impact on media

The hashtag’s widespread use, with 48,000 tweets over 21 hours, signifies a substantial increase in awareness. This extended reach ensures that the message around HIV and AIDS, especially on World AIDS Day, is disseminated to diverse and global audiences.

The digital space, particularly social media platforms, serves as a crucial arena for advocacy. The trending of the hashtag suggests that the online community actively participated in discussions related to HIV and AIDS. This prompted media outlets to prioritise such topics in their coverage, recognising the public’s interest and engagement.


On December 1, President Ruto and his delegation participated in the unveiling of the Climate Club during the COP28 summit in the UAE. The impact of their presence resonated widely, capturing attention and discussions that persisted until December 3. COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber lauded President Ruto for his “unprecedented climate brilliance,” specifically commending his efforts in uniting Africa for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS). Al Jaber emphasized that the ACS played a pivotal role in setting the stage for this year’s most significant climate event, COP28.

Notably, Dubai itself became a focal point of the online conversation, with 314,000 tweets dedicated to the event circulating for an impressive duration of over 21 hours. The trending discussions reflected the global significance of the COP28 summit and underscored the acknowledgment of President Ruto’s contributions to advancing climate goals on both regional and international scales.

Impact on media

The positive acknowledgment from COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber and the significant social media trends in Dubai indicate a heightened level of interest in President Ruto’s activities. Media outlets increased their coverage of Ruto’s role in climate initiatives, both at the regional and global levels.

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