7 Times Kenyans' Uproar on Social Media Was a Force for Good

  • From left: Pauline Njoroge, Alvan Gatitu (Centre) and Lucy Gatimu (right).
    From left: Pauline Njoroge, Alvan Gatitu (Centre) and Lucy Gatimu (right).
  • Social media is a double-edged sword which can be used either positively or negatively as more Kenyans express themselves online.

    Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) are a force to reckon with, they can build and destroy. In recent times, there are a number of issues, socially, politically and economically that have received the attention they deserve away from mainstream media.

    Highlighting some of these stories has led to positive change from users of social media platforms oftentimes villified for various other not-so-positive actions.

    Here are some of the times uproar by Kenyans on social media has prompted change.

    Pauline Njoroge, a digital strategist and a vocal political commentator
    Pauline Njoroge, a digital strategist and a vocal political commentator

    Pauline Njoroge Appointment to Tourism Board

    Most recently is the appointment of Pauline Njoroge who was gazetted as a new board member of the Tourism Regulatory Authority. Following her past comments advocating for the development of residential areas in the Nairobi National Park, Kenyans on social media were up in arms against her selection to the committee in charge of safeguarding such natural treasures.

    A day after the gazettement, Tourism CS revoked her appointment stating that the Ministry was not aware of the past comments prior to her gazettement.

    "I am revoking Pauline Njoroge's appointment as a board member of Tourism Regulatory Authourity because we have just seen what she had tweeted in the past that Nairobi National Park was useless. We do not want to be associated with such people and such thinking," read an excerpt of the statement.

    Artcaffe Competition

    Popular restaurant chain, Artcaffe, came under fire from a section of Kenyans on Tuesday, August 4, after announcing rewards for an art competition that many viewed to be taking advantage of artists.

    Winners were to be rewarded with the opportunity to have their artworks displayed in one of the restaurant's locations or a chance to intern with their creative team. In addition, they would have been entitled to a year's supply of coffee, redeemable at one cup a day.

    The prizes ignited the debate on how creatives are 'paid in exposure' in exchange for their work which did not amuse many of those online.

    The Artcaffe logo displayed as one of its locations
    The Artcaffe logo displayed as one of its locations

    After the outrage, Artcaffe issued a statement announcing cash prizes for winners in its cup design competition.

    Under the revised reward plan, the winning designer was expected to receive a Ksh100,000 cash prize or free daily coffee for a year. They would also be offered a paid internship with the Artcaffe design team for two months.

    Syokimau Residents Choking from pollution

    In another case of important stories being amplified by social media, an exposé on the plight of Syokimau residents suffering under alleged pollution by Endmor Steel Millers that was aired on Citizen TV ignited an uproar on digital platforms.

    Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua moved to close the  factory to protect the residents from further environmental pollution. 

    Syokimau residents were embroiled in a protracted battle with the steel factory, with residents complaining of industrial pollution: from noise, water to air. 

    Mary Wambui appointment

    In 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated Mary Wambui as chair of the National Employment Authority board which sparked public debate.

    Wambui's appointment was later suspended on Wednesday, October 23, by the Employment and Labour Relations Court as infuriated Kenyans who held the opinion that the 69-year-old ex-legislator was unqualified to have any meaningful impact on youth unemployment in Kenya. 

    Former Othaya MP Mary Wambui
    Former Othaya MP Mary Wambui.
    Daily Nation

    Lucy Gatimu - Mama Fua

    Lucy Gatimu (Mama Fua) who was cyberbullied after asking for assistance to feed her children was the beneficiary of the helpful act of Kenyans who banded together to help her cope with life's struggles.

    To support the mother of two, Kenyans were urged to send money to her mobile money account with her number shared online. Others invited her to their homes and offices to offer cleaning services.

    As she received multiple offers, she was able to fend for her family.

    TikTok star Alvan Gatitu

    Kenyan internet star Alvan Gatitu was forced to sleep in the cold on Saturday night, July 4, after being locked out by his landlord - an experience she shared online.

    Upon his video going viral, Kenyans supported him by sending money to his M-Pesa and bank accounts.

    After he was rescue, Alvan bought the watchman who offered him a place to sleep a motorbike to run a boda boda business.

    Alvan Gatitu.
    Alvan Gatitu.

    Viral carpenters

    Kenyans on social media also embrace innovation as two carpenters based along Ngong Road designed a moving seat to act as a park bench when folded and a table seat when unfolded.

    In a previous interview, the duo told Kenyans.co.ke that they had gotten the idea to make the moving seats from the internet.

    "Since the video was shared, we have received a number of offers to design them," they stated as they revealed plans to create social media pages where they could capitalize on the growing demand online.