It started with Chief Francis Kariuki of Lanet Umoja Location in Bahati Constituency. Using the twitter handle @Chiefkariuki the local administrator has risen to international fame for using twitter as a tool of communicating government policy and for checking security in his area of jurisdiction.
“I am using twitter as a tool for community policing, neighborhood watch and crime – reporting activities,”
so reads his twitter handle page that is followed by close to 50,000 people from which he only follows about 1,300 people. His, is a story that has been told locally and internationally since it was broken several years ago with calls that more local administrators should emulate him.
And as that would be, other local administrators in the County have started using the tool for the same purposes. Or let us just say, they have been doing it only their stories have been told as that of Chief Kariuki.
“I have been telling journalists who come to cover my story to report about other Chiefs on twitter but they never seem interested. They always say they have come for my story,” Chief Kariuki told Kenya Monitor.
To confirm his word, you only need to do a quick search on twitter starting with @Chief upon which you will get at least five substantial responses: @Chiefkihara; @CHIEFKIMANI; @ChiefKaranja; @CHIEFRASHID and @Chiefkariuki, the last one being his.
Interestingly all the five Chiefs are from Nakuru County and they are all on twitter for the same purpose – to optimize modern technology in their communication with the people they serve. Together they seem to be forming a movement, however small it may be at the moment, of the ‘Tweeting Chiefs’.
@Chiefkihara is a Chief at Free Area in Nakuru East Constituency while @Chiefkaranja is a Chief at Mireroni location in Bahati Constituency. @CHIEFRASHID is a Chief at Kapkures Location in Nakuru West Constituency while @CHIEFKIMANI is an Assistant Chief at Githioro Sub Location, Githioro Location, Bahati Constituency.
“We were taught by Chief Kariuki,” says Chief Karanja of Mireroni Location whose full name if James Karanja before adding that he uses twitter “for total communication.”
But it is his Kapkures counterpart who has the best definition of how the Chiefs are using twitter at the grassroots.
“These days we use twitter to scream,” he says reminding you of the most immediate action that residents do when attacked – that is to scream and call for assistance.
“One day a woman in my location fell in a ditch with her child. They spent the whole night there, but when I got wind of it I used the tool to mobilize people to come and rescue them and we succeeded,”
he says picking on one of the moments he has been made to ‘scream’ to save a life on his twitter handle.