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Deceptive caption in TikTok video misrepresents Kenyan governor's remarks at army chief’s funeral

IN SHORT: A caption on a TikTok video does not accurately reflect Siaya governor James Orengo’s speech at the funeral of Kenya's military chief, Francis Ogolla.

A video posted on TikTok has a politically inflammatory caption attributed to Siaya county governor James Orengo. It shows Orengo speaking at the funeral of Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Francis Ogolla.

The caption is in a mix of English and Kiswahili and can be roughly translated as: “It is me who wanted to overturn your victory, not Ogolla, and given a chance, I will do it again. Do whatever you want.”

The video has been viewed over 540,000 times, shared over 1,000 times, and has received over 500 comments.

Ogolla died in a helicopter crash on 18 April 2024 along with nine other officers. Two soldiers survived. Political leaders have called for an investigation, and president William Ruto said there would be a transparent inquiry.

Ruto appointed Ogolla as army chief on 28 April 2023. In May, Ruto said that Ogolla was among those who wanted to overturn his 2022 presidential election victory, but that he still chose him because he was the most qualified. 

In 2022, Wafula Chebukati, then chair of the electoral commission, named Ogolla as one of the leaders who went to the main tallying centre in Nairobi to try to sway the August election in favour of rival Raila Odinga. Orengo is part of the Azimio coalition that challenged Ruto’s win at the supreme court in 2022. The court upheld Ruto’s victory.

During Ogolla’s funeral, several senior political leaders, including Odinga and defence minister Aden Duale, said Ogolla was a man of integrity who would not interfere in elections and that these allegations should be cleared.  

But does the caption on the video accurately reflect what Orengo said at Ogolla’s funeral? We checked.

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Inaccurate representation

While the TikTok video is an unedited clip of Orengo’s speech, the caption accompanying it does not accurately reflect his remarks. 

We found his full speech, which begins at the 1:19:00 mark, in this complete recording of Ogolla’s funeral service. There is no evidence in any part of Orengo’s remarks to support the claim made in the caption. The clip being circulated is taken from 1:42:22 during Orengo’s speech.

His speech from 1:46:20 focused on his own actions at the tallying centre as he defended Ogolla’s integrity. Orengo said that if the allegations of vote rigging were made against him, he could plead guilty.

The governor mentioned that Ogolla had previously refused to engage in any political matters.

Orengo did not say he would repeat his actions, nor did he challenge Ruto to “do whatever he wants”, contrary to the misleading TikTok video caption.

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