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No, Kenyan governor Chelilim didn’t say Kalenjin community must not sell land to ‘outsiders’ – quote and graphic fake

IN SHORT: Politicians in Kenya have often stoked ethnic tensions. But a news graphic claiming a governor warned against selling property in his county to “outsiders” has been fabricated.

A graphic circulating on Facebook attributes an incendiary quote to the influential Kenyan politician Jonathan Bii Chelilim

It begins: “Let us guard Eldoret town at all costs. We cannot allow our town to be sold to outsiders.”

Chelilim, a Kalenjin, is the governor of Uasin Gishu county in western Kenya

The quote suggests he has urged the Kalenjin community in Eldoret, the county capital, not to sell property to people from other communities – the “outsiders”. Eldoret is the hometown of Kenyan president William Ruto, who is also Kalenjin.

The quote goes on to claim that the community has already lost Nakuru – a county and city with the same name – to “outsiders”. He names them as the Kisii, Luhya and Kikuyu, three of Kenya’s largest communities.

The neighbouring county of Trans Nzoia is also claimed to have been “lost”.

According to the latest census, the Kalenjin numbered 6.56 million in 2019. Kenya’s total population is 47.56 million. 

The graphic shows a photo of the governor and the logo and branding of the news site Kenyans.co.ke. It has also been posted on Facebook here, here, here and here.

Land ownership is a source of tension in Kenya. In the past, disputes have escalated into ethnic and political conflict, particularly during elections.

Uasin Gishu county has seen violent clashes between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin, notably after the disputed 2007 general election.

But did Kenyans.co.ke really quote Chelilim as saying this? We checked.

Chelilim_Fake

‘Did not emanate from our media house’

There is no sign of the graphic on the Kenyans.co.ke website or on its verified Facebook and Twitter pages.

And the controversial quote hasn’t been reported by any other mainstream media outlet.

Africa Check asked Adongo Kyalo, the social media manager at Kenyans.co.ke, if the website had produced the graphic.

“This post did not emanate from our media house,” he wrote in a text. “It does not conform to the in-house branding rules and did not go through the multiple approval checks set in place to prevent misreporting. We, therefore, flag it as FAKE.”

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