Kenyans on the micro-blogging sites Twitter and Facebook on Sunday heavily criticised global television network CNN for depicting grenade blasts in Nairobi as an eruption of “violence” in the country.
The news channel was forced to pull down a video seen as misrepresenting events by depicting Saturday’s grenade attacks that killed six and injured 63 as being widespread.
The east African economic and political powerhouse is on the edge as it is only months away from its next election after disputed polls in 2007 led to violence that claimed over 1,000 lives and displaced close to 600,000 others.
The anti-CNN offensive quickly gained momentum with hash-tags (keywords used to follow conversations on the platform) #SomeoneTellCNN and #CNNApologise rapidly gaining popularity. For a time the former was the most “trending” globally, a measure of what people are talking about on the site.
The US-based network had on its news report about the attacks used a banner with a scorching Kenyan flag and a screaming message of “Violence in Kenya”.
Irked Kenyans pushed for an official apology but this was yet to be done, although its correspondent in Nairobi, Mr David McKenzie, eventually offered one.
“Our reporting last night was accurate, the banner used in the bulletin was not. Apologies to all,” Mr McKenzie, under siege from the Kenyan online community, tweeted.
“We’re having the offending video pulled. Again apologies for the mistake. It was changed on air, but not online,” he added.
But, even as he promised that future bulletins would not have the controversial banner, the microbloggers’ anger did not abate.
“Africans are not going to let anyone hijack the narratives of their individual countries,” tweeted a user, while the country’s vibrant online community oozed patriotism and countered about Kenya being “the country with the best athletes on the planet, MPesa (mobile transfer service)” and other historical and tourist attractions.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka also weighed in. “It is extremely irresponsible of CNN to paint Kenya as a nation in chaos while we are victims of terror,” he wrote on his official Twitter account, praising Kenyans’ patriotism and zeal in defending the country’s image.
Most Kenyans called for balanced and factual reporting.
Brand Kenya, the body tasked with marketing Kenya, ought to sue CNN for tarnishing Kenya’s image, the bloggers said.
Depictions of violence and strife, have in the past led to travel advisories being slapped on Kenya.
As a result, tourists and businessmen, who flock to the country, are usually forced to change their itineraries, leading to a loss of revenue to Kenya.
“We’re not perfect, we have our dark moments, but we won’t be part of their ‘white saviour’ agenda,” said another blogger.