Kenyans react to opposition's strategist 'arrest'

Sunday December 3 2017

David NdiI

Kenyans have taken to social media to react to news of the arrest of Kenya opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) strategist David Ndii. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By The EastAfrican
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Kenyans have taken to social media to react to news of the arrest of Kenya opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) strategist David Ndii. 

Dr Ndii, a global economist and popular Saturday Nation columnist, was allegedly arrested at Leopard Beach Hotel in Diani, Kenyan coast, where he was with his wife, on Sunday evening.

Police denied Nasa claims that they were holding him at the Diani Police Station.

Dr Ndii is an ardent user of social media, particularly Twitter, with a legion of over 200,000 followers.

Known for his witty and sometimes humorous tweets, the economist has been one of the government’s harshest critics.

That he was a likely target of the Jubilee government’s crackdown on dissent, was an open secret.

20,000 Tweets

And as Nasa leaders on the ground followed up and demanded the reason for his alleged arrest, Kenyans took to social media to express their shock and disappointment.

Dr Ndii received an avalanche of support particularly from Kenyans on Twitter (KoT).

Using the hashtag #FreeNdii, KoT called for the immediate release of the self-proclaimed 'public intellectual'.

Even those who do not entirely agree with Dr Ndii condemned the government’s move to arrest the opposition leader.

Activists, prominent lawyers, bloggers and average social media users sent out tweets in Dr Ndii’s, with the majority praising him for his apparent “courage” and “patriotism.”

For this reason, “David Ndii” immediately topped Twitter’s trending topics in Kenya, with over 20,000 tweets sent about the topic as at Monday morning.

One of the most popular tweet was posted by activist Boniface Mwangi who said; “David Ndii is a patriot. A patriot is a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion,”

Maathai

Lawyer Donald B. Kipkorir, in an equally popular tweet, said; “For many years, Prof Wangari Maathai kept being harassed; the World celebrated & gave her Nobel Prize; the highest global award ... Kenya celebrated her only after she died ... Now we are arresting Prof David Ndii, a highly respected global Economist ... Kenya harasses its BEST!”

Others like advocate Nelson Havi pledged their support for Dr Ndii.

“We hope you have a bona fide sustainable charge against David Ndii. We will not plead, but shall demand his release and take remedial action,”

Fred Asira lamented government clampdown on Nasa and its campaign for “electoral justice”.

“They have arrested David Ndii already. Bad move,” he posted.

The economist has been on the forefront of calling for a secession of a part of Kenya and formation of the People’s Republic of Kenya.

Secession

His campaign was preceded by one of his most popular columns published in March 2016 titled “Kenya is a cruel marriage, it is time we talk divorce.”

In the article, Dr Ndii argued that Kenya “is an abusive relationship” and called for a “Luo Nation” and a “Mt Kenya Nation.”

Often engaging in intellectual talk about Nasa’s strategies and the government’s shortcomings, the University of Oxford-trained economist has attracted barbs and bouquets in equal measure.

Many social media users who do not agree with him often resort to insults and slurs, but Dr Ndii has managed to handle them gracefully— often responding in facts, figures and soft tackles.

Before his arrest, Dr Ndii has been picked by Nasa to lead formation and operationalisation of the People’s Assembly.