- The coronavirus outbreak is exposing China’s dangerous influence over the Kenyan government.
- Kenya’s President allowed Chinese airlines to bring hundreds of potentially infected passengers into the country.
- Kenyan netizens use social media to mount an online rebellion. They strong armed their government into stopping flights from China.
Kenyan netizens take matters into their own hands as the Chinese-dominated government of Uhuru Kenyatta refuses to take adequate precautions amid the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
The disease, which has killed over 3,000 people around the world, threatens to overwhelm Kenya’s ill-equipped healthcare system if it enters the country.
Despite the risks, Kenya’s government allowed multiple airlines to fly passengers from China, stoking fears that the illness could be spreading undetected among the population.
China, the epicenter of the outbreak, is Kenya’s most important trade partner. Kenyan authorities may be afraid to offend their new “friend.” However, through a massive social media campaign, the people of Kenya managed to strong-arm their government into ending flights from China.
Will this be enough to stop the deadly disease?
Coronavirus Has Spread to Sub-Saharan Africa
The people of Kenya have good reason to be worried about the Wuhan coronavirus. The novel disease has infected almost 90,000 people with 3,048 deaths across 66 countries. The caseload outside of China has soared with major hot spots developing in Iran, South Korea and Italy.
The new hot spots are in nations that experience a large volume of Chinese tourism. Kenya could be next if it doesn’t act fast.
Covid-19 has also appeared in Sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria reporting its first case on Feb. 25. The patient came from Northern Italy, not China. This indicates that the coronavirus has become a multi-pronged threat.
If Kenya continues to allow visitors from hard-hit areas, it’s only a matter of time before Covid-19 takes root in the country
International Airlines Poured Chinese Visitors Into Kenya
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s biggest carrier, has maintained its controversial decision to continue flights from China amid the coronavirus outbreak. China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines also run routes from Guangzhou to Nairobi via Bangkok, Thailand.
Guangzhou is part of China’s Guangdong province, which has at least 1,350 confirmed cases of Covid-19. After a brief suspension, China Southern Airlines resumed direct flights from Guangzhou to Kenya on Feb. 25.
We are only suspending the flights from 11th to 24th to resume thereafter. We have already communicated with our customers
China Southern expected to quietly resume flights into Kenya. But what they didn’t expect was a social media rebellion from young Kenyans who accuse their government of selling out to China and putting the nation’s health at risk to appease the Chinese government.
Kenyans Use Social Media to Strong Arm their Government
As soon as China Southern’s flight landed. Ali Gire, a security guard at Jomo Kenyatta Airport, was ready. He used his mobile phone camera to record the plane along with Chinese state media discussing the event on the tarmac.
His video went viral and prompted outrage among Kenya’s online population.
Boniface Mwangi, a social media influencer with 1.4 million followers, had scathing words for Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
President Uhuru borrowed billions from the Chinese and wasted the money. The borrower is a slave to the lender. Uhuru has allowed the resumption of direct flights from China to Kenya to please the lenders. Uhuru is risking the lives of Kenyans to please China.
Does Uhuru love this country? If he did, no Chinese flight would be allowed to land in China as long as the coronavirus remains a threat. Our health system can’t handle a coronavirus outbreak. Is Uhuru simply tired and wants all of us dead, so that his Chinese masters can take over Kenya?
Others poked fun at Kenya’s limp-wristed voluntary quarantine.
Kenya’s Government Bows to the People
In response to the social media backlash, Kenya’s high court superseded Kenyatta Uhuru and ordered the temporary suspension of all incoming flights from China. The court also instructed the government to track down and isolate all 239 of the passengers who came into the country aboard the China Southern flight.
Justice James Makau had this to say on Friday:
Kenyans will continue to be exposed to the deadly coronavirus unless the government is stopped from allowing more flights from China
Kenya’s netizens scored a massive victory against their corrupt and incompetent government. It’s up to them to keep up the pressure amid the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.