Imagining the Kenyan Canaan dream journey in cyber space
With technological advances made in contemporary times, new literary genres have emerged in digital space, with an attendant rise in the
performance of rhetorical discourse on social media platforms. In the run up to Kenyan elections on 8 August 2017, the opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga wrote a book titled Not Yet Uhuru, packaged himself as the biblical Joshua with a quest to liberate Kenyans and take them to the Promised Land, Canaan. This biblical analogy depicted in Odinga’s speeches propelled Kenyans to engage in creative descriptions of the Canaan journey using social media. This play on imaginings of a Canaan journey, as displayed in cyber space, became a performance of biblical analogies, dreams, and expectations by rival characters in an ensuing online drama. In this article I examine the digital orality in the emergent texts found on Kenyan social media platforms as a form of online liveness. It focuses on social media exchanges that are inspired by Odinga’s quest (as captured in his speeches) to take Kenyans to Canaan. Placed within the framework of online liveness studies, it analyses how, using digital media, spatially dispersed Kenyans shared creative memes, messages, and tweets that allowed them to vicariously undertake the Canaan journey online. I utilise Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes and collective unconscious to explore the journey motif, framed within an analogy of the Israelites’ journey from captivity, with Odinga portrayed as a hero who pursues the political quest of delivering Kenyans to the land of Canaan.
Keywords: cyberspace, journey motif, emerging genres, online liveness, digital orality.