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Ignore rumours that prominent Kenyan trade union leader Francis Atwoli has died

IN SHORT: Despite rumours on social media, the secretary general of the Central Organization of Trade Unions is alive and well.

A video posted on TikTok on 21 March 2024 claims that Francis Atwoli, the secretary general of Kenya’s Central Organization of Trade Unions (Cotu), has died. 

Cotu is the umbrella organisation for trade unions in Kenya. Atwoli has been its secretary general since 2001.

The video, archived here, shows two photos of Atwoli, overlaid with sad music.

Text above the photos reads: “Am wondering whats wrong in Kenya. R.I.p atuoli francis.” Text below claims this is “breaking news”.

The video has been viewed more than 1.9 million times.

The rumours of Atwoli’s death follow the deaths of popular Kenyan TikToker Brian Chira on 16 March and renowned NTV journalist Rita Tinina on 17 March 2024. 

But has Atwoli died? We checked.


Ignore false rumours

News of Atwoli’s death, if true, would have been officially confirmed by Cotu. It would also have made headlines, as he is a prominent figure. But we found no news reports about it.

On 27 March, Atwoli posted a photo on his verified X account of himself and another man he identified as “brother Hussein”.

On 5 April, he posted photos of a meeting he held with secretaries general of other unions at Cotu headquarters.

Claims of Atwoli’s death are false.

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