Kenya’s fight against the Islamic militant group al Shabaab in neighboring Somalia has spread to Twitter.
Kenya invaded Somalia in late October, its first incursion into a neighboring country since its post-colonial era started in 1963. Kenya’s public aim was to prevent kidnappings of Kenyan citizens it felt were being perpetrated by al Shabaab, an affiliate of al Qaeda.
A Kenyan spokesman, Emmanuel Chirchir (@MajorEChirchir), from the start was tweeting about Kenya’s progress. According to the South African online magazine The Daily Maverick, his blend of “unabashed jingoism” and “donkey paranoia” – it once tweeted about the dangers donkeys represented to the Kenyan military – has drawn about 10,000 followers on the messaging service.
December 7th saw al Shabaab launch a Twitter counterattack. The two opposing sides quickly entered into the Twitter version of a flame war. The Daily Maverick credits al Shabaab (@HSMPress) with a convincing early Twitter victory over the Kenyans, based mostly on coherence and ability to spell in English.