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No, photo of 2016 protest – not ‘youths’ demanding Nairobi governor Sonko’s release in 2019

Friday 6 December 2019 was an eventful day for Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and one of its 47 counties. It began with the collapse of a building in Tassia, a neighbourhood in the east of the city.

Then Mike Sonko, the county’s governor, was arrested on corruption charges in Voi, a town about 320 kilometres south east of Nairobi. He was flown back to the city in a police helicopter.

Later that day, a Facebook user posted a photo of what seemed to be a street protest.

“ROWDY YOUTHS NOW IN NAIROBI MAIN ROADS DEMANDING THE RELEASE OF SONKO,” he said, in an all-caps caption with little punctuation.

“WE ARE READY TO DEFEND OUR GOVERNOR WITH OUR SOULS AND BLOOD, WE ADVISE MOTORISTS TO AVOID ALL ROADS LEADING TO NAIROBI CBD AS IT'S NOW GOING TO BE MESSY NOISY AND WITH CASUALTIES.” The caption ends with the hashtag #RELEASESONKO.

Does the photo show young people who took to the streets of Nairobi on 6 December 2019 to demand Sonko’s release? We checked.



Demonstration against electoral commission in 2016


A reverse image search reveals that the photo was published in an article by the Star, a Nairobi newspaper, on 6 June 2016 – more than three years ago.

Here the caption reads: “Cord supporters from Kibera in Nairobi county during demonstrations for the forceful removal of commissioners at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, June 6, 2016.”

The protestors were reportedly demanding that members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission be fired before Kenya’s August 2017 general election. Collins Kweyu, a Kenyan photographer, is credited in the caption.

Africa Check reached out to Kweyu, who has since left the Star and now works with the Standard newspaper. He confirmed that he took the photo.

“Yes, it’s mine. They were coming from Kibera along Ngong Road.” He added that the location was around China Centre, after the city mortuary roundabout. 

Road a dual carriageway


Africa Check looked up the area on Google Maps. Kweyu’s description matches the area in the photo. The Maziwa Gardens apartments behind the Shell Petrol Station are clearly visible in the image, to the left. 

While Google Maps indicates the road is a dual carriageway, the photo shows it was a single carriageway. The dualling of the road was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 24 August 2016, according to a tweet by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority. This was more than two months after Kweyu took the picture.

The photo does not show “rowdy youths” demanding Sonko’s release on 6 December 2019. – Vincent Ng’ethe




 

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