This survey of the growing role of social media in Kenyan society and politics does not offer a straightforward answer to the implicit question in its subtitle. Nonetheless, it develops some keen insights into the effects of the Internet in Kenya. With more than seven million of its citizens on Facebook and over a million on Twitter, Kenya may well be sub-Saharan Africa’s most online country. Nyabola describes a sophisticated community of users who have found agency through the Internet, whether in criticizing CNN for what they see as its Eurocentric coverage or in publicizing corruption and incompetence by Kenyan officials. The Kenyan government, Nyabola reveals, is deeply ambivalent about the Internet, attracted to it as a symbol of modernity but wary of the hard-to-control political spaces it creates. Nyabola’s conclusions are far from optimistic. She documents how the Internet allowed foreign actors, such as the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, to manipulate voters during the 2017 Kenyan elections and explores how social media may come to undermine Kenyan democracy.
In This Review
In This Review
Most Read Articles
The Sources of Chinese Conduct
Are Washington and Beijing Fighting a New Cold War?
The Population Bust
Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It
History Repeats Itself in Zimbabwe
New President, Same Old Problems
Putin the Great
Russia’s Imperial Impostor
How America Lost Faith in Expertise
And Why That’s a Giant Problem