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Romancing the Media: A Critical Interrogation of Political Communication in Presidential Elections in Kenya

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Perspectives on Political Communication in Africa


This chapter examines the political use of the media—both traditional and new, including social media—in Kenya’s political and democratic processes. It argues that political use of the media is premised on the fact that they provide information, platforms and forums for information sharing, debate and analysis, and space and tools for political engagement, networking, mobilisation and propaganda. However, a critical interrogation of media use reveals that access and use is skewed towards the political elite and their issues. Accordingly, the ordinary populace is at the receiving end of political communication but is not actively involved in creating and disseminating political messages. Yet, despite the growing appropriation and use of media for political communication and propaganda, there is no guarantee that media will help generate the votes needed to win political contests and presidential elections.

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  1. 1.

    NASA is an amalgamation of various parties including the Orange Democratic Movement, the Wiper Democratic Movement and the Amani National Congress.

  2. 2.

    The current Jubilee government is a coalition arrangement comprising two political parties, namely the United Republican Party and the National Alliance Party. The coalition has since been dissolved.

  3. 3.

    Both Ory Okolloh and Daudi Were have established themselves as bloggers and online activists. Ory Okolloh, a co-founder of, pioneered the adoption and use of Google Maps to map out election-related violence in Kenya.

  4. 4.

    Kamau, J. (2017). Photos: Kenyans on Twitter take on President Uhuru Kenyatta with #uhuruchallenge. The Standard Online, 9 January. Available at Accessed 28 February 2017.


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Correspondence to George Nyabuga .

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Nyabuga, G., Ugangu, W. (2018). Romancing the Media: A Critical Interrogation of Political Communication in Presidential Elections in Kenya. In: Mutsvairo, B., Karam, B. (eds) Perspectives on Political Communication in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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