ASC-TUFS Working Papers
Online ISSN : 2436-1607
Print ISSN : 2436-1542
ISSN-L : 2436-1542
Decoding Political Discourse on Digital Platforms in Africa
Rumour Networks among Rural Populace in Kenya’s 2022 Elections
Laban Kithinji Kinyua
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2023 Volume 3 Pages 29-50


Rumour, a basic feature of rural livelihoods, has often been utilised to dispel fears and elaborate events deemed complicated. As ordinary people continue to adopt digital platforms to engage with the state and markets, rumours prominently feature on digital platforms, thus becoming definitive agents for political and social change. This study provides an in-depth analysis of how rumour was leveraged as a tool for political messaging on digital platforms in rural Kenya during the 2022 general elections. We argue that political actors made normative policy claims that were weaponised by the two dominant coalitions’ supporters at the grassroots level through dynamic networks that spread campaign information. The weaponisation of policy statements transformed normative claims into age-old rumours that have aided political discourse in contemporary Kenya. As the rumours spread, the networks informed the recipience of political messages and their popularity. To build this thesis, this study uses empirical evidence gathered through fieldwork in an ethnography of the residents of rural central Kenya. We use social network analysis (SNA) to analyse the subject matter by picking key spreaders of information on digital platforms to show the networks on which they relied to spread their information.

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© 2023 African Studies Center - Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

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