On 4th Aug 2010, Kenya made history by holding a referendum for a new constitution.  Despite a few isolated and rudimentary administrative problems that naturally affect processes of such magnitude, the elections were well managed and peaceful.

As a young democracy, Kenya still is experiencing growing pains but it is has been evident, that Kenya as country and its constituent peoples have the resolve to move and take their country to greater heights. Nowhere has this resolve and attitude been more evident than on Twitter. #KenyaDecides carved out a new frontier for Kenyan tweeps and the local twitterspace. For the first time politics and governance took to the centre stage of the conversation. People from different backgrounds and colours engaged in an issue of national significance. In my estimates well over 80% of the tweets resulted in positive dialogue on an issue of great ramifications.

#KenyaDecides became a local trending topic as per reports from other sources. It is not clear whether it officially hit the Twitter trending topic list but it certainly hit cloud nine via engagement with Twitter users in Kenya. Anyone who follows a number of Kenyans in their list should have noticed. I have been advocating for Twitter to open up their local trending topics services to countries like Kenya which may comparatively have low usage and adoption rates but high throughput of information per user. Local trending topics would make it easier to track and find real time information and open up new ways of communication in areas where mobile phones are pervasive.

Unfounded and negative reports referencing previous incidents of violence raising fears and pessimism on the process were quickly overshadowed by real-time on the ground information from Twitter users. Twitter provided a better real time picture of the process that no traditional media house could possibly portray. In fact, a higher throughput of tweets from both local and foreign correspondents covering the story on the day implies that many were using Twitter as a source of information.

Kenyan ‘peculiarities’ did not go unchecked on the very day. Naturally, Kenyans have a tendency of being a tad bit too humorous. Such an incident of national significance was not spared of this comic relief. This satirical piece on International Media Outrage made its way to the blogosphere and soon hit Twitter tagged with #KenyaDecides . There was also a tweet with the following text circulating at some point “Woman goes into labour at Kabete polling station. Voters have pre-named the baby ‘Red Wafula Green’.”

#KenyaDecides moved on to #KenyaDecided on the morning of 5th Aug 2010 with both hashtags registering activity till the time of this posting albeit with much less tenacity that on the mentioned dates. Unfortunately Twitter search does not allow one to search way past a few days; however there are about 1000+ cached tweets on the topic at topsy.com . Given the barrage of real-time microblogging on the day, the total of #KenyaDecides tweets could have been well over 10,000 at its peak.

Reuters also covered the story with a social media twist as can be seen here. The Ushahidi team also had a local instance running at www.uchaguzi.co.ke. All in all the writing is on the wall, Kenyans are increasingly adapting to social media in its various forms and this paves way for disruptive changes in the way information and services will be consumed and procured.


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Soud Hyder, Soud Hyder. Soud Hyder said: [BLOGGED]: #KenyaDecides to Take The Local Twitterspace A Notch Higher http://www.soudhyder.com/?p=54 [...]

Tweets that mention SoudHyder.com | Technologist | Futurist | Strategist » Blog Archive » #KenyaDecides to Take The Local Twitterspace A Notch Higher -- Topsy.com added these pithy words on Aug 14 10 at 22:39

Fantastic piece Soud. I was following the vote. Not from CNN or CBC but via Twitter. And more specifically via the #KenyaDecides hashtag. Congrats to you and all Kenyans on an amazing feat and for adopting social media.

karim kanji added these pithy words on Aug 18 10 at 20:12

#rutoplaylist made it top 10 two weeks ago

Roger added these pithy words on Nov 24 10 at 08:31

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#KenyaDecides to Take The Local Twitterspace A Notch Higher



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