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Huge crowd greeting Kenya’s deputy president? No, fans at 1973 rock concert in US

Politicians and their supporters in Kenya, as in many other countries, often use large crowds at rallies as evidence of their popularity.

On 6 July 2019, during deputy president William Ruto’s visit to Migori County, a Facebook user posted a photo of a massive crowd.

He wrote: “William Ruto received like a King in Migori County. All Migori women have promised to walk naked if Ruto does not become president.” Another user also shared the photo,  with a similar claim.

Ruto is a perceived frontrunner for Kenya’s presidency in the 2022 elections.

The photo was also published on the website Friends of Nigeria in February, this time with the claim it showed a campaign rally for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Summer Jam music festival in 1973

A reverse image search, however, reveals the photo is of the Summer Jam rock festival at Watkins Glen in the US state of New York – in 1973.

According to website of Capitol Theatre, a historic theatre renowned for music concerts in New York, the photo shows the estimated 600,000 people who came to the festival.

Capitol Theatre posted the photo on Facebook and Twitter in 2018 to mark the concert’s 45th anniversary.

Its caption reads: “Groovy, man! Today in 1973, over 600,000 descended upon Watkins Glen for Summer Jam featuring Allman Brothers Band, The Band, and the Grateful Dead. Long live the 1970s.”

The photo can be found in a Watkins Glen Travel and Tourism article on Summer Jam, and in a blog post about the concert.

‘Largest rock festival ever held in US’

A 1973 New York Times report describes Summer Jam as “a mammoth muddy outdoor dance hall” with “600,000 fans”, and “the largest rock festival ever held in the United States”. The crowd was “larger than the 300,000 to 400,000 who had gathered at the Woodstock Festival 160 miles east of here in 1969”.

The Guardian, in a 2013 report on the concert’s 40th anniversary, also puts the crowd at 600,000.

Other photos of the event have been posted on Flickr, and there’s a video of it on YouTube.

Another claim made in Kenya is that a “million people” turn up at political rallies in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park. But as Africa Check found in 2018, the park simply can’t hold that many people. – Dancan Bwire


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