Back to Africa Check

Did a Kenyan newspaper jab at tribal appointments to government? No, front page doctored

IN SHORT: The front page of a Kiswahili-language newspaper circulating on social media, with a headline story that appears to stoke tribal tensions, is falsified. It’s been digitally manipulated and has been dismissed by the paper.

“Kenya Ama Kale-nya” reads a headline circulating on Facebook. It appears to be from the front page of Kenyan Kiswahili-language newspaper Taifa Leo

“Kenya Ama Kale-nya” loosely translates to “Kenya or Kale-nya”. “Kale-nya” is the combination of the words “Kalenjin” and “Kenya”. 

The Kalenjin are an ethnic grouping of eight culturally and linguistically related groups who live in the Mount Elgon region, which overlaps the Kenya-Uganda border.

The intro of the lead story on the front page, dated 2 May 2023, reads: “Jamii moja nchini imebainika kuwa na uwakilishi mkubwa zaidi ndani ya serikali, na kuashiria ukosefu wa usawa wa uwakilishi wa makabila katika utendekazi wa umma, ripoti mpya imebainisha.”

This roughly translates from Kiswahili as: “One community in the country has been found to be over-represented in government, highlighting the unequal representation of ethnic groups in public service, a new report has noted.”

The front page shows a picture of Joseph Siror, who was recently appointed as the chief executive of Kenya Power and Lighting Company. This is a public utility company that distributes electricity throughout Kenya. Siror is from the Kalenjin tribe.

Following William Ruto’s successful presidential bid in August 2022, there have been complaints that Kalenjins have been overwhelmingly appointed to government roles, compared to other tribes. 

Ruto is Kalenjin and appointing his kin to government roles has been seen as rewarding loyalty rather than competence. Kenya is notorious for the role of tribalism in politics, ever since its colonisation by the British.

The front page has also been shared here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere and here.

But is this really the front page of the Taifa Leo newspaper? We checked.


Front page fake

Taifa Leo posts its daily front page on its official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Africa Check searched the newspaper's Twitter page for the front page of the 2 May edition and found it – and it's completely different.

The headline reads “Ruto Arusha Ahadi Zaidi”, or “Ruto Makes More Promises”.

On 4 May, Taifa Leo posted the altered front page on Facebook and Twitter, stamped “FEKI”, or “fake”.

The publication said: “TAHADHARI: Shabiki tunakufahamisha kwamba kichwa FEKI kinachoangazia suala la ukabila si kazi yetu. PUUZA.”

This translates as: “CAUTION: Fans, we inform you that the FAKE title that focuses on the issue of ethnicity is not our work. IGNORE IT.”

The front page circulating on social media has been doctored.

Republish our content for free

Please complete this form to receive the HTML sharing code.

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.