As elections near amid soaring debt and a cost-of-living crisis, grassroots activists are turning to social media to propel change.

12 July 2022

When 1,700 Kenyans took to the streets of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa last week, they had one main demand of the government: to bring down the skyrocketing cost of living. Commemorating Saba Saba Day (“seven seven” in Swahili, when protesters on 7 July 1990 called for democracy under President Daniel Arap Moi), the demonstrators brandished placards that read #nofoodnoelections and #lowerfoodprices.

Crucially, they also took to social media with their demands. “There is an escalation in how online space is being used,” says Sungu Oyoo, a community organiser with grassroots political movement, Kongamano la Mapinduzi (which roughly translates as conference of the revolution).

“We are realising that we may not always get coverage in traditional media or may face media blackouts,” he says. “So many activists are using social media like an independent media outlet – where they can push the conversations and reach more people.”

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