Kenya had a comparably slow news week this week. Domestically, legacy media groups spent a good part of their column inches discussing the development of one bombshell story from last week: the ODM expulsions. As the week progressed, the focus on X (or the app formerly known as Twitter) shifted to president William Ruto’s one year scorecard.
North Africa, harrowingly, did not have a slow news week. The top half of this continent witnessed two once-in-a-lifetime catastrophes this week, and there are many thousands of people still reeling from the two devastating natural disasters.
Earthquake in Morocco
The 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Al Haouz province of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains actually happened last week, at 11pm local time on Friday the 8th of September.
We reported on this event through our X handle, however, Morocco’s worst earthquake in over 100 years happened hours after we’d already published last week’s news round-up so we didn’t cover it then. Now, a full week after the awful event, there are few signs that the situation is improving for the worst affected.
According to the Red Cross charity’s website, some 2,800 people were killed and a further 300,000 people have been affected by the quake and its aftershocks. Footage of one of those aftershocks, which struck on Wednesday this week, has been widely circulated and shows rescuers fleeing the surroundings of buildings fearing their collapse.
Many of those affected have been left homeless and emergency shelters have been set up to provide drinking water and provisions to the area. The aftershocks that have hit the area have been hampering relief efforts and there are fears that more aftershocks are still incoming.
Those displaced are, as result, sleeping outside, with the buildings considered too unsafe to sleep inside. Power, mobile and internet coverage are all still down in the worst affected areas.
Flooding in Libya
It seems as if we were just coming to terms with the magnitude of the devastation in Morocco when, to Morocco’s East, Libya was hit by devastating flooding. On the 10th of September, Storm Daniel, made landfall in Libya resulting in severe weather conditions.
The storm resulted in widespread flooding and significant infrastructure damage. Including in that damage was the destruction of two dams. The subsequent torrent of water washed away entire neighbourhoods in the port city of Derna, in Libya’s east.
Without pause to consider the many thousands of lives lost in Morocco, the world bore witness to an even more chilling death count as NGOs and Libya’s government tallied up the dead and displaced. Presently, the estimate of lives lost stands between 6,000 and 11,000 people.
This is, however, early on in the timeframe of this crisis’ management. Those numbers are, as a result, expected to rise. The population of the city of Derna was estimated at around 85,000 people. According to the BBC, some 30,000 people have been left homeless as a result of the flooding. Though these numbers are for Libya as a whole, the devastation wrought on Derna is undoubtedly massive. Libya, and more specifically Derna, will be dealing with the after affects of this tragedy for many years to come.
Ruto’s one-year scorecard and the ODM expulsions
On to domestic, and less tragic, news. This week saw the one year anniversary of the Ruto presidential term and, as a result, X saw the hashtag #Ruto1YearScorecard trending. Kenyans of X used the hashtag to either vent frustrations at promises unmet or praise those promises that they perceived as having been fulfilled.
It is no secret that here in Kenya, as in many (if not all the) other countries of the world, politics is a partisan game. As a result, the one-year-scorecard hashtags were unsurprisingly shaped by one-sidedness.
From some X posters, we saw pithy predictions that Ruto would be Kenya’s first one-term president. His presidency has been so bad, say these individuals, that he simply cannot win again. Those of this mind point to rises in the price of fuel and basic foodstuffs, or the president’s failure to bring about a 50-50 gender split in his cabinet as illustration of the president’s failings.
Conversely, those inclined to praise the president can see no wrong done in his first year. These commentators stressed the importance of certain figures illustrating how Ruto has curbed the worst affects of the cost of living crisis.
What is clear is that both sides are not beneath relying on some degree of artistic license when it comes to presenting certain figures. Go on X yourself and you’ll see a wide array of prices and price changes for the foodstuffs often analysed in this debate.
We’ll wait to see whether even his most staunch supporters are as inclined to talk positively of him when this new wave of proposed taxes comes into effect.
Rigathi Gachagua abroad in Columbia
To finish this week’s news round-up, we wanted to present a considerably more light-hearted story than the pair of news stories we started with. Presently, president Ruto is in New York and the deputy president, Rigathi Gachagua, is in Columbia.
With the president and his deputy both abroad, that leaves National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, nominally, in charge of the country.
The purpose of Gachagua’s Columbia trip is to facilitate better trade links between the South American country and Kenya, especially with regards to the marketing of coffee. There have been positive comments made from both groups regarding the Kenyan delegation’s visit.
However, the deputy president, and the team behind him, will presently be trying to hide their blushes. On one of the many occasions the DP has taken to the podium in order to make a speech, he confidently asserted that Kenya can count tigers as a species worth seeing when one visits Kenya.
These were his comments:
“Again, as you come to invest in Kenya, we have many facilities for tourism. We have rare species of wildlife; the elephant, rhino, buffalo and the tiger.”
Tigers, of course, are not native to Kenya or, indeed, any other African country. Perhaps Gachagua should consider going on a safari in Kenya before he takes to the stand again, vouching for what we have in our national parks.