By Mukurima X Muriuki.
Louis Xvi posited society is hinged on 3 estates: first (clergy), second (nobles), and third (commoners). This assertion would years later be amplified by Edmurd Burke, a British politician who introduced the idea of the Fourth Estate.
Burke is quoted in Thomas Carlyle’s book, “Heros and Hero Worship in History” as saying that though society paid attention to the 3 Estates represented in Parliament, in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate far more important than the other 3- the press being a fourth branch of government and important to a functioning democracy.
This section on mukurimax.com will focus on presenting icons within society who are ‘influencers’ on social media, which I would safely call “Fifth Estate,” and which have arguably taken over from the traditional media as envisioned by Burke, in setting the agenda for the society. I talked to Pauline Njoroge, a social media icon and this is her story.
“My name is Pauline Njoki Njoroge. Currently I work as a Communication Officer under government of Kenya.
I was born and raised in Githiga village. Today, the village is represented in parliament by Njoroge Baiya and in the Senate by Paul Kimani Wamatangi. Githiga is in Kiambu County and falls under William Kabogo’s governorship.
I spent my early years with my maternal grandmother who had a coffee farm and it is here I learnt, at 8 of age, how to pick coffee and take it to the factory! After a while I joined my parents in Nairobi; sadly though, life would take a drastic turn after my mom died when I was only 10 years old. I had to move back to the village and the change of environment and having to deal with the reality that my mom was no more was a very heartbreaking experience. My pain and suffering would be exacerbated by one relative who would always remind me that my mom was dead and there was no one to mother me unless I followed her to the grave. It was very dehumanizing
When I got to class 8 and looking forward to sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCPE) examination, my dad lost his job. This welcomed us into a difficult financial time-we really struggled. In spite of the tough times, I did well in my KCPE and joined secondary school. All this time, I could not help but wonder why God had forsaken me yet I was His daughter. I felt as if society was laughing at my family’s incapacitation. Life appeared very humiliating. I would cry almost every night under my blankets wishing mom was alive, for I knew things would not have been as difficult for me.
After secondary school I could not proceed with college as my dad was not in a financial position to sponsor my education. After two years in the village I realized that I held the key to my own emancipation and if I did not stop feeling sorry for my situation and do something, I would end up getting married for the wrong reasons as an escape conduit to my perceived limitations.
Without informing my family, one day, I packed a few of my belongings in a torn bag (it was green in colour) and left for Nairobi. I asked my cousin Hellen to house me for a few weeks as I searched for a job and she agreed. The first job that I looked for granted my then limited credentials was becoming a house girl. I went to one bureau but unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.
My next attempt was hawking. I bought erasers, pens, T-shirts and packaged them nicely in an open box and started doing rounds within the streets of Nairobi. I did this for a few days but within my heart, I yearned for something more real. Later on I approached a certain church to help me go back to school as I really wanted to study. They saw my hunger for an education and gave me a Ksh 10,000 cheque. I took a bold step of faith, sent an application to Catholic University with the hope of pursuing political science, and I was admitted. However, tuition for the first semester was Ksh.85, 000- this did not keep me from hoping and praying that the church would give me more than the 10,000. Unfortunately, nothing was forthcoming and as a result I could not sit for the end of semester exams, even after attending classes for a whole semester. I dropped out of campus, and that marked another low moment in my life.
Later on, unable to raise rent a couple that I had shared my predicament with decided to house me and I lived with them for 3 years and they became a part of my family. When they opened a posho mill business, I offered to work in the posho mill as an attendant, and did this for a year. Meanwhile, when not serving customers, I would read magazines and newspapers, however, old, and would keep abreast of what was going on in the country. I had also registered as a member at the US embassy reference center and this became my resource for books on politics. The more I kept reading, the more I kept on believe in spite of my circumstances, that I had a brighter future. The reading materials in my possession enlightened me and inspired me to pursue something I was passionate about-youth empowerment and participation in issues of governance.
I did not have a platform where I could be an advocate for these issues, but then I realized I had a Facebook account and from what I read, other young people had used this medium and made it a powerful tool of engagement. Utilizing this tool, I would share what I was reading and my thoughts about specific issues and my friends would bring different perspectives and the more these discussions grew, the more people would join my page to express their opinions and positions. People started noticing and with time some started reaching out to me. This is how I ended up being involved in the 2013 presidential campaigns. I had become a voice on social media.
While still working at the posho mill, together with like-minded young people, we registered a non-profit organization called Eagles Leadership Foundation-an advocacy voice for youth involvement in governance and policy making. The US Embassy was very supportive of the initiative through the contacts I had made at the reference Centre. God asked his servant Moses what was in his hands, Moses had a walking stick and God used that to do many miracles. I my case the walking stick was social media and the non-profit organization. These two were instrumental in opening doors for me and I met very strategic contacts. The rest is history.
I have used Social media to communicate New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) programmes, to advance the Pan-African agenda among the youth especially relative to the African Union’s agenda 2063, and also to create a platform for discussions on government’s development agenda.
The biggest challenge I find in the use of social media is that most of the time people hold on to positions and do not want to listen to different perspectives-the other side of the argument. It becomes difficult to dialogue on issues in an objective way laced with facts and truths.
In terms of the state of our country, I argue that we are on the move and we are growing fast. There are major infrastructure projects underway e.g LAPSSET and Standard Gauge Railway which, once complete, will take the economy of this nation to the next level and help improve the state of doing business. The energy sector is growing bigger by the day. With more investments going into renewable energy, Kenya is set to meet its target of 5000MW in the next few years. On the diplomatic front we are doing remarkably well and our government continues to build very strategic partnerships internationally
I am keenly after the American politics and how Democrats and Republicans are campaigning for the 2016 elections, and more importantly, how both parties are running the presidential nominations process. It is quite interesting to watch and very unpredictable. I support Dr.Ben Carson because he is solid and firmly believes in what he stands for no matter what everyone else has to say about it. He is sincere and he does not say things just for the mare purpose of pleasing people. Also because he has Kenyan roots.
I also admire a number of people on social media, and every day I must read what these people have posted. Some of these men and women are: Wahome Thuku, Dennis Itumbi, Tsomnyazi wa Nganga, Gordon Opiyo, Mukurima Muriuki, Abraham Mutai, Jane Kogi, Kiborek Reuben, Soyinka Lempaa, Ory Okollo, among many others. Their updates revolve around my areas of interests especially the state of the nation, African Affairs, International politics and development news.
Social media has made the world a global village. Kenyans in the diaspora can follow what is happening in the motherland and even actively participate in important discussions on the state of the nation. These platforms also help dwarf the communication distance between Kenyans in Diaspora and those in the motherland, making it easy to keep in touch and in constant communication.
My plans are to get more involved in advancing Africa’s development agenda and most importantly integration.
I have been asked who the rock of Njoki’s heart is! Hahahaha….This is a private part of my life and I would like it to stay that way!”