Top Kenyan official gives the finger to coronavirus ‘idiots’? No, photo manipulated

Karanja Kibicho, Kenya’s interior ministry principal secretary, shows the middle finger in what seems to be a screenshot of a Citizen TV article circulating on Facebook in late April 2020.

“Kibicho says 402 ‘idiots’ arrested on Sunday for violating curfew,” the headline reads. One Facebook user adds: “Kibicho using his finger to emphasise his point.”

Lifting the middle finger is an insulting and offensive gesture in many cultures including in Kenya.

The screenshot shows Kibicho behind a stack of microphones, indicating that he made the gesture at a news conference.

Did the top Kenyan official really flip the bird in public?

Statement on radio, not TV

Here is the original Citizen TV article, from 27 April. In its photo, Kibicho is raising his index finger.

The article reports that 402 people were arrested for violating the government’s stringent measures to slow the spread of Covid-19. Kibicho did reportedly call these people “idiots”. 

“We have 402 idiots we arrested yesterday trying to challenge and tell the government ‘stop saving my life’ because that is the message they are communicating,” the article quotes him as saying.

But Kibicho didn’t say this on TV. The quote comes from an interview on the radio station Inooro FM, which broadcasts in the Kikuyu language. 

Photo from 2019

In its article, Citizen TV used an old file photo of the official. A reverse image search reveals that the photo was published in the Star newspaper on 1 February 2019. It shows Kibicho speaking at a press conference on Huduma Number, Kenya’s national digital identity system.

The screenshot on Facebook has been manipulated. The official raised his index finger, not his middle finger. – Grace Gichuhi


 

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

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’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.

Fighting coronavirus misinformation

Africa Check is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers fighting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the alliance here.

© Copyright Africa Check 2020. Read our republishing guidelines. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.