Rural Kenyan Chief Finds Notoriety on Twitter


Chief Francis Kariuki, left, reads a tweet on his cellphone at his office in the village of Lanet Umoja, Kenya. AP

@Chiefkariuki is Africa’s new novelty, thanks to Associated Press. A chief in Kenya, Francis Kariuki, says he uses twitter to communicate with his villagers. His village is called Lanet Umoja and is 160 kilometres west of the capital, Nairobi.

One presumes that if he is tweeting about issues important to his villagers, then they too must be on twitter, following him, along with quite a few Americans (including a hedge fund manager). He says that in addition to the now over 1,300 people following him, others access tweets through a third-party mobile phone application or tweets forwarded via text message. Mashable and AP say that “Mr. Kariuki regularly sends out tweets about missing children and farm animals” … and raising the alarm about thefts, which has helped to reduce crime in the area.

Kariuki said that when he was first appointed the administrative chief of Lanet Umoja he asked himself how he could tackle the region’s problems. First was solving the region’s poor communication infrastructure.

I’ve got to be honest, I’d love to know the backstory on this one. How many people in the village follow the Chief, respond to his calls, engage with him and find the tweets useful? A brief look at his twitter account shows that he pushes out information but there’s not much conversation going on – yet.

I’d love it if the village had found a new way to engage and communicate across traditional barriers. I guess time will tell.

Kariuki speaks on his cellphone. AP