Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Vol. 10 No. 3: September issue

'We Still Living': The Digital Media and Fake-talk around COVID-19 in Tanzania

July 1, 2022


In Tanzania, as COVID-19 emerged and became a pandemic, many claims about the fakeness of virus-related news began to appear in the digital media. These claims, or what I refer to as ‘fake-talk’, served to expose and discredit ostensibly false information and distinguish it from real news. However, I suggest that these instances of ‘fake-talk’ have a deeper sociopolitical meaning. Analysing posts collected between August 2020 and May 2022, I argue that such instances are performative acts of citizenship, whereby Tanzanians enacted and embodied ‘good’ citizenship when ‘fake news’ appeared to criticise their country and its leaders. This fake-talk, the paper shows, follows a pattern in Africa of criticising Western science and medicine, and can therefore be understood as an example of a specific form of postcolonial citizenship. Additionally, the paper reveals that claims about fakeness do not necessarily discredit the entities referred to as ‘fake’. Instead, in the very process of decrying something as ‘fake’, fake-talk can create a spectacle. Further attention still may be directed to it when fake-talk gives rise to moral and legal concerns that require intervention.