That social media is big in Kenya is no doubt. That it has changed the lives of many Kenyans is clearly visible. Today is Social Media Day in Kenya and although most mainstream media houses have shunned publicizing the day, it did not go unnoticed.
Twitter was buzzing with #SMdayKE and #SocialMediaDayKenya tweets from the thousands of Kenyan Twitter users who have left a mark in the social media service. Of course we don’t need any survey to determine the social media kings in East and Central Africa. Kenya leads the pack. Kenyan application developers have kept the Kenyan “Twitterverse” alive with customized local clients. Heads up to all of them.
My previous blogpost focused on Chief Justice Mutunga’s entry into social media. That should tell any skeptics how big, important and influential social media is in Kenya. It has transformed our lives in ways never seen before. To start with, the Finance Minister posted the budget estimates on his Facebook page a day before the formal reading of the budget statement in Parliament. Before then, he had requested for Kenyans input in the budget making process and Kenyans, for the first time, tweeted their thoughts and suggestions. A noticeable example is that of the Kenyan who tweeted requesting the scraping of filing tax returns at KRA for single salaried employees. The Minister did just that! That’s a very positive stride.
Today, all media houses in Kenya engage widely on social media. Newspaper publishers are using Facebook and Twitter to drive massive traffic to their news websites. TV stations are widely engaging their viewers on social media. Corporates are interacting with their clients on social media. Even top government parastatals like utility service providers have embraced social media.
There was the #KenyaFeb28 initiative whose success can be widely attributed to social media. Thanks to Facebook groups, pages and Kenyans on Twitter, the day turned out to be a major event that brought out the patriotism of Kenyans on social media platforms.
Coincidentally, Kenya’s social media day comes only a day after search giant Google unveiled its new social networking service, Google+. Whether it will succeed in Kenya and make inroads the way Facebook and Twitter have managed to or it will sink into oblivion like Google Buzz and Google Wave, only time will tell.
Of course there are many social media platforms, some startups, some on their death beds(MySpace, Friendster etc) and others that serve several purposes like exclusive photo sharing, video sharing etc.
YouTube is one service that has been phenomenal in Kenya. Today, missing a popular TV show like Churchill Live(which sadly ended today. Season three should come soon), Capital Talk, Bulls Eye, Kukurukakara etc isn’t much stressful, YouTube has it all.
Today, not embracing social media at an individual or organizational level is suicidal. Social media is here to stay, it is part and parcel of us.
Happy Social Media Day!
Also posted at ECHENZE KENYA
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Late on Friday afternoon word went round in Kenyan internet circles and the blogosphere that the new Chief Justice, Dr Willy Munyoki Mutunga(just call him Willy, he says) had joined the revolutionary social media world to connect with “his bosses” as he clearly put it. That’s my CJ people!
That is such a great gesture of interaction never witnessed before. For a man of his stature, to look down and tell his fellow countrymen that it’s not all about himself but themselves is commendable. It is not lost on Kenyans that this is otherwise one of the very conservative offices in the land. However, thanks to Dr Mutunga and his equally reform minded deputy, Mrs Nancy Baraza, the judiciary is fast establishing a connection with the common man on the street.
I had a feeling right from the start that things would be different when he showed up for his swearing in at State House in a simple suit. That’s my CJ people! Not only did the previous dress code of the CJ look archaic, it was intimidating. Simply put, it had no connection with the bosses, the Kenyan taxpayers nor did it reflect on our national ideals as a Kenya independent of colonial practices. Away with the colonial wigs any flowing red robes!
That this would be a judiciary with a independence is not lost on anyone. Not only did Dr Mutunga join Facebook and Twitter, he expressed his hope that the whole judiciary should be connected. Well said Willy, I look forward to following all the judges on Twitter. Hope they follow suit. That tweet he posted about his colleagues on the bench joining him on social media reminds me of the tech savvy Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta who recently, while presenting the 2011-2012 budget statement, urged other MPs to embrace social media. Of course the Kenyan political class has tried with the DPM, Narc Kenya chairperson Martha Karua and Presidential hopeful Peter Kenneth being the other active MPs on social media.
I believe the greatest lesson we can learn from Dr Mutunga is that servant leadership is what Kenya has lacked for long. It is this servant leadership that kenyans yearn for. Leaders who can go where their bosses, the people of Kenya, are and engage them meaningfully. The CJ enjoys alot of public goodwill and as I wrote on his Facebook wall, “Great expectations” is all Kenyans have.
All the best Willy!
Also posted at ECHENZE KENYA.
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