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Kenyans take to Twitter to protest the soaring cost of living


Kenyans have taken to Twitter using the hashtag Maandamano to voice their protests against the high cost of living in the country. These demonstrations have not only caused disruptions in public transportation but have also affected businesses offline.

On Wednesday, July 12, a significant protest, dubbed Maandamano, unfolded across Kenya in response to the ongoing crisis of the soaring cost of living. The demonstrations aim to halt the planned tax increase by the Kenya Kwanza government. Various groups, including the opposition coalition Azimio La Umoja, public service vehicles (PSVs), and the taxi association of Kenya, prepared for nationwide protests on this day. According to The Star, the cost of living in Kenya witnessed a 13.4% increase in March 2023 alone, primarily impacting essential services such as housing, transport, and electricity.

The #Maandamano hashtag has sparked polarized views. Supporters of the protests believe they represent a genuine outcry from ordinary citizens who are struggling to make ends meet in the current economic climate. Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has been vocal about issues such as the high cost of living, broken promises by the government, excessive taxation, and insufficient efforts to combat corruption, which has plagued the nation. Many of his followers share his concerns.

However, other Twitter users dismiss the protests as a strategy by the opposition to hinder any attempts by the Kenya Kwanza government to improve the country. The #Maandamano protests have become associated with violence and property destruction, with clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators occurring nationwide.

Critics have raised concerns about the disruptions caused by the protests. Public transportation came to a halt, posing significant challenges for individuals commuting to work, and numerous businesses closed their doors due to fears of vandalism.

Twitter has become a popular platform for Kenyans to share their experiences and opinions regarding the #Maandamano protests. One widely shared video depicts Matatu operators playing games at the Nanyuki main stage, where regular operations were disrupted.

Despite heavy police presence, protestors defied restrictions and gathered for the customary #Maandamano demonstrations. Some locations, including Kangemi, Machakos, Mlolongo, and Nakuru, witnessed clashes between stone-throwing protestors and armed police officers.

While the issue at hand is serious, some Twitter users have found humor in the #Maandamano protests, viewing them as a mid-week holiday or an early start to the weekend.

Kenyans’ anger and frustration stem from the significant increase in the cost of fuel, food, and other essential goods over the past few years. Elected officials have failed to address these grievances, prompting many citizens to take their frustrations to the streets.

Various public figures have expressed their opinions on the #Maandamano protests. A video featuring prominent businessman Jimi Wanjigi has been widely shared, showing his support for the demonstrations and the need to reduce the cost of living.

Kileleshwa MCA Rober Alai has also tweeted in support of the #Maandamano protests, urging his followers to join in.

On the other hand, public figures affiliated with the Kenya Kwanza government have downplayed the protests, encouraging people to continue with their daily activities and ignore the demonstrations.

Twitter has emerged as a platform where Kenyans can freely express their opinions on various national issues. One might wonder if it is gradually replacing traditional media as locals utilize the platform to voice their grievances on a broader scale.



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