A popular American series, Scandal, tells the story of a character named Olivia Pope who thrives in fixing problems for the powerful - celebrities, politicians and even the government.
The lead character is inspired by Judy Smith - a lawyer who was a special assistant and deputy press secretary to President George H. W. Bush - now running her own crisis management firm - Smith & Company Limited.
In Kenya, one woman has slowly built a reputation as a reliable fixer for President Uhuru Kenyatta and by extension, the Jubilee government.
Pauline Njoroge does not hold a formal position in government, but those who know her attest that she wields soft power that few people can rival.
Indeed, on Sunday, February 13, Pauline was the second trending topic on Twitter after Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi released a video hurling unprintable epithets at the Jubilee operative.
Sudi, a member of Deputy President William Ruto’s inner circle, appeared to have been infuriated by Pauline for reportedly organising the mass youth meeting that President Kenyatta chaired at State House on Saturday.
Politicians rarely waste their ammunition and to see it directed at her is perhaps a statement of the power she wields.
Pauline’s story starts out in Githiga - a village in Githunguri, Kiambu County where she was born in a humble household.
She had a tough childhood - losing her mother at the age of 10 while her father struggled with school fees after losing his job while she was in class eight.
Despite performing well in high school, where she was also the school captain in her year, she was unable to continue her studies and left home in search of employment.
In Nairobi, she hoped to get work as a house help but switched to hawking and later became an attendant at a local posho mill.
It was while working at the posho mill that she developed an interest in social media - initially as a leisure activity before she discovered the power the new tool provided. The big break would soon beckon after then Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth picked her to join his team as a communications assistant - mainly running his social media communication as he prepared for the 2013 presidential run.
Uhuru Kenyatta would later poach her to the TNA communications office. In the first term of Uhuru’s administration, the Jubilee government’s social media network was synonymous with Dennis Itumbi.
Pauline, at the time, was relatively less known and spent most of her time at New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)’s offices at Liasion House, State House road.
In 2018, Itumbi’s boisterous reign at State House came to a halt after he and a number of his colleagues were let go as Uhuru’s handlers were concerned by their eccentric style of running the President’s communications.
The Itumbi exit created space for Pauline to extend her wings and has slowly become one of the most influential individuals shaping President Kenyatta’s communication.
Unlike her predecessors, she rarely creates attention around herself and prefers quiet power - leading a disciplined team of influencers, photographers and even journalists to showcase the President’s legacy. Beyond social media, she is also a known organiser and mobiliser and has played a role in bringing youth delegations in meetings with President Kenyatta as well as with ODM Leader Raila Odinga.
As the 2022 election heats up, Pauline will definitely be a face to watch as she proves her “Miss Fix It” bonafides and weathers the storm from those uncomfortable with her power.