Nairobi News


BLOG: Parody accounts and the art of impersonation

It’s said that everyone in the world has at least one lookalike. Most people though give up their ghost before meeting their duplicates.

Doppelgängers have existed throughout history. Sometimes the semblance is so remarkable that you can’t’ tell a tad of a difference between them.

Then there are those who don’t bear the obscurest similarities with their subject, but will spend their life trying to look like someone they admire, and doing anything possible to achieve this mission: Makeup, dressing and in far serious cases, procuring surgery.

Yet, nowhere is the knack of impersonation as polished up as it is online. Particularly on Twitter. The aspect of anonymity and the ability to delete an account whenever there is a threat offers enough latitude for the administrator to express themselves –before a dragnet closes in on them.

There is an extremely smart class of parodies on Twitter, and who have been on the rise lately. They imitate top celebrities, politicians and even corporates. They tweet parallel content in terms that are more relatable with by the common folks.


They churn out daily doses of humorous content, in a topsy-turvy take of everyday events around them, and beyond. It is satirical finesse at is purest form.

These set agenda on current topics, allowing people to air their view on various subjects of interest to them.

Furthermore, they mock non-performing public servants for lethargy, inefficiency and corruption in their departments.

Unlike human parodies who sometimes accost their idols, these particular crop exist entirely independent of their subjects of impersonation.

Sample these ones:

Elsewhere in the world, parody Twitter accounts for US President Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and even Syrian strongman Bashar al Assad exist, where tweets capture the state of world politics in a satirised fashion.

Tragedy is, people often confuse them with the genuine accounts, tweeting and retweeting them.


Notwithstanding that impersonation is criminal, these lot have admirably creative minds, personages who keep abreast of information, and generously share it with their followers.

With utmost ruthlessness, they clobber, insult and drag their victim through mire, you would imagine the poor person has committed upon the public the worst felonious iniquity.

Sadly, such malevolence has lent the erstwhile harmless “Twitterville” an unnecessary fear factor, creepier than the dreaded passage through Congo River in Joseph Conrad’s epic tale of Heart of Darkness.

I hear there’s even a High Court on Twitter. Ahem. Here, “suspects” are frogmarched to the public courtyard where they are undressed, beaten and spited. Ironically, anyone, any human soul, is party to this case. You only need to be passing by to be a witness.

Anyone who has been roasted in this crucible would have no trouble grasping this. It is a subject that many writers cannot touch with a barge pole, for fear of rattling the snakes. I had enough gall to pick up the slack nonetheless.

But I hope not to fall to the vicious sword of this faceless army. Or am I eating my cake and still want to have it? You determine that.