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Starlet and Matara trend, but not true EACC raided Orengo’s home

This trends report covers January 2 to 7, 2024. The report unveils the online discussions, spotlighting impactful stories that resonated within the online space and their impact on the media. Some of the topics we picked include Judiciary and Ruto, Starlet Wahu and John Matara, and Baba.

Judiciary & Ruto

Over the past week, President William Ruto found himself embroiled in a fight with the Judiciary after he openly contested court orders limiting the implementation of his key policies while accusing judges of corruption. During a public address on January 2, 2024, Ruto asserted that certain unnamed judges were colluding with the opposition to obstruct crucial government initiatives, such as a housing fund and universal healthcare. Consequently, this has sparked concern among Kenyans, who expressed fear of regression to authoritarianism. On January 7, the President adopted a conciliatory tone towards the judiciary, advocating for collaboration among the three arms of government.

The judiciary became a focal point of discussion on January 3, 2024, trending at #️1 with 33, 000 tweets for over 21 hours, and remaining tops until January 5.

Impact on media

The conflict generated heightened media attention, with news outlets covering the developments extensively. This increased coverage not only reflects the significance of the issue but also contributes to shaping public understanding.

Media organisations face the challenge of maintaining objectivity and providing balanced coverage amid a politically charged situation. Balancing the reporting of President Ruto’s perspective, the Judiciary’s response, and public sentiments requires journalistic integrity.

Starlet Wahu & John Matara

Starlet Wahu, 24, described as a “socialite”, made headlines as she trended at #3 on social media, amassing 10,000 tweets over an eight-hour period. The surge in online activity followed the arrest of a suspect, John Matara, on January 5, 2024, in connection with the brutal murder of the young woman. Wahu’s lifeless body was discovered on Thursday morning in room in in Nairobi’s South B. It was revealed that Wahu and Matara had spent time together there. Matara was traced to Mbagathi Hospital where he was seeking treatment and arrested.

Impact on media

Media outlets covering sensitive topics like suspected murder must navigate ethical considerations carefully. Balancing the need for information with respect for the privacy and dignity of the individuals involved is crucial. News organisations may face scrutiny for how they handle and present such stories.

Media outlets covering this story can expect increased online traffic and viewership, both on traditional platforms and digital channels. The public’s curiosity about the details of the murder case, the suspect’s arrest, and the ongoing investigation may lead to higher ratings and readership.

Reporting on ongoing investigations carries legal implications. Media outlets must ensure accuracy, avoid speculation, and adhere to ethical standards. Inaccurate reporting could lead to legal consequences and damage media credibility.

Baba Jakom

Kenyans set aside their political differences to joyously celebrate the 79th birthday of ODM leader Raila Odinga. Social media platforms witnessed an outpouring of admiration for the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party leader, with many expressing gratitude for his significant contributions to democracy. Despite the festive mood, Raila’s supporters in Nairobi faced a setback when their celebration was disrupted by exploding teargas canisters lobbed by police officers.

“Baba” and “Jakom” dominated X trends, securing the top spot with 98,000 tweets for over 13 hours.

Impact on media

Media coverage plays a crucial role in shaping narratives around political figures. Positive coverage of the celebration can contribute to a favourable public perception of Raila.

The disruption of the Nairobi street bash may also influence media narratives, potentially highlighting tensions, or clashes, and emphasising the challenges associated with political gatherings.

Fact Checks

  1. The image that circulated on X, claiming to depict ENA Coach’s Tesla bus was false. The company has not acquired any Tesla buses. The image is manipulated featuring the ENA Coach logo seamlessly photoshopped onto a bus to create the false impression. As of December 2023, Tesla was yet to release a bus.
  2. The photo shared on X purportedly capturing the awe of a Nigerian man experiencing a streetlight for the first time was misleading. The Media Observer team performed a reverse image search, revealing that the photograph was initially posted on X on December 16, 2023, by an individual engaged in the solar lights and solar products industry. The individual shared the image, highlighting a streetlight powered by solar energy.
  3. On December 31, 2023, the hashtag #KenyaVsNigeria gained momentum on X, comparing the two nations. A reverse image search conducted on the showcased picture indicates that it was initially taken and published on July 10, 2014, by Alamy—a platform specializing in the sale of stock images, videos, and various visual content. The photograph portrays Dharavi, a slum in Mumbai, India, skillfully captured by photographer Rafiq Maqbool  
  4. The photos circulated on X comparing the First Ladies of Nigeria and Kenya were misleading. The Media Observer team performed a reverse image search on the woman in the first photograph and discovered an article dated March 13, 2020, from PM News Nigeria, a daily newspaper published in Lagos. The article correctly identified the woman as Margaret Bandele Olayinka, widely recognized by the moniker Iya Gbonkan, a distinguished veteran in the Nollywood industry. She is not Nigeria’s First Lady. Oluremi “Remi” Tinubu is.


  1. The video that circulated on TikTok claiming to announce the official commencement date for the National Police Service recruitment as January 5, 2024, was misleading. On January 3, 2024, the Media Observer team reached out to the Police Service, who promptly dismissed the claim, categorizing it as false. Additionally, on January 2, the NPS refuted the allegation through their official X account, advising the public to disregard the misleading information, as it holds no truth.
  2. The images circulated on Twitter depicting food donations in Nyanza (Kisumu) allegedly led by President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto were misleading. After conducting a reverse image search, the Media Observer team identified the origin of the image, confirming that it was taken and posted on December 22, 2023, on the official social media accounts of President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto. The photo captured their generous hosting of over 1000 neighbours from Uasin Gishu, Nandi, and some from Kakamega counties at their rural residence in Sugoi.

  3. 7. The claim that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission carried out a raid on the residence of Siaya Governor James Orengo in Siaya was false. On January 5, 2024, the Media Observer team reached out to Yassin Amaro, the spokesperson for the EACC, who clarified that the commission had not undertaken any such operation.

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