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Kenyan Youth Protest Against President Ruto’s Punitive Tax Measures

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Kenyan Youth Protest

Kenya’s youth have sparked a nationwide movement against President William Ruto’s punitive tax measures, particularly the Finance Bill 2024.

Unlike past protests marred by violence, this new wave is marked by peaceful demonstrations and digital activism.

Using social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, they have rallied support, composed protest songs, and performed skits criticizing government policies.

Their innovative approach has drawn international attention and support, signifying a powerful shift in Kenya’s political landscape.

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This article delves into these groundbreaking protests’ origins, motivations, and impact.

Kenyan Youth Protest

Kenyan Youth Protest: New Era of Protests as Gen Z  Rise Up Against Ruto’s Punitive Tax Policies

Kenya’s stylish, fearless, and tech-savvy youth have taken to the streets in a countrywide protest against President William Ruto’s punitive tax measures, particularly the contentious Finance Bill 2024.

This wave of demonstrations marks a departure from past protests, characterized by stone-throwing and looting.

Instead, the youth are leveraging their energy and technology to voice their concerns.

Social Media as a Catalyst

The anger over the Finance Bill began on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

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Young Kenyans used these platforms to organize, share their frustrations, and rally support.

They have turned the internet into a powerful political tool, composing songs and performing skits that criticize the government’s economic and political policies.

Adapting Iconic Anthems

To further their cause, protesters have adapted the lyrics of legendary reggae musician Burning Spear as their protest anthem: “They told us things will be better, they told us things will be cheaper, they told us things will be easier.”

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This anthem resonates deeply with the frustrations of Kenyan youth, who feel betrayed by unfulfilled promises.

Government Response and International Attention

Initially, Presidential Advisor on economic affairs David Ndii dismissed the online protests, calling digital activism “just wanking.”

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However, after witnessing the resilience and impact of the protests, he acknowledged their importance. This shift in tone was a significant victory for the protesters.

The international hacktivist group Anonymous also waded into the fray, issuing a warning to President Ruto and Parliament via a video posted on their X account.

They condemned the harassment and arrest of peaceful demonstrators and threatened to expose the corruption within the Kenyan government if the Finance Bill was passed.

Kenyan Youth Protest vs Data Privacy Concerns

The Office of Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) issued a statement cautioning against the sharing of personal information, including MPs’ phone numbers, on social media.

Despite this, protesters continued to share the phone numbers of high-profile individuals, including the Data Protection Commissioner herself and IMF contacts, demonstrating their disregard for what they see as hypocritical warnings.

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Voices of the Youth

Generation Z in Kenya is well-informed about government policies and politics. Activist Anini Barasa emphasized the need for youth to raise their voices before the situation worsens.

She highlighted the widespread nature of the protests, with participation from Nairobi, Nyeri, Nakuru, and even Eldoret.

Barasa insisted that the movement is peaceful and organized, with no political affiliations but driven by the power of social media.

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Church Involvement and Discontent

The Catholic Church’s Holy Family Basilica faced backlash for denying protesters refuge.

This incident highlighted the tension between the protesters and institutions that they feel should support their cause.

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Despite these challenges, the demonstrators remained resolute, insisting on their independence from any political influence.

Misinformation and Reality Around Kenyan Youth Protest

Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie accused protesters of using fake photos to exaggerate the demonstrations.

He claimed that some images circulating online were edited and did not represent the actual events in Nairobi.

However, these accusations did little to dampen the spirit of the youth, who continue to stand firm in their protest against the Finance Bill.

Conclusion

Kenya’s youth have ushered in a new era of protests, characterized by peaceful demonstrations and digital activism.

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They have shown that they are not only aware of the issues affecting their country but also determined to make their voices heard.

The Finance Bill 2024 has become a rallying point for a generation that refuses to be silenced.

Their innovative use of technology and social media has not only drawn national attention but also garnered international support, signaling a shift in the political landscape of Kenya.

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