PAZA SAUTI

“Can we link up online?” and “What’s your handle?” are questions we get one too many times.

The advent of social media not only revolutionized access to information, but also created platforms for self-expression by users. In today’s world, half a day off social media means missing out on real-time updates, and having to play catch up. Twitter is always ablaze and WhatsApp has become a staple for households especially in Kenya. The Visual Capitalist recently shared analytics on an internet minute: 481,000 tweets sent, 38M messages on WhatsApp, 3.7M queries searches on Google, and $862,823 spent online, not to mention Netflixing fans and Instagram scrolls. What’s more, the future is predicted to have higher projections. No doubt, social media remains a fundamental tool for product outreach in every sector and community.

Kenya, a developing and young nation with a median age of 19 grapples with a myriad of governance challenges. Top on the list of them all are mismanagement of public funds and poor leadership that have robbed a majority of young people, opportunities to make true their dreams. In identifying possible solutions to these challenges, citizen responsibility is key in reclaiming the country’s resources and opportunities. The youth, who form over 60% of the population have a key role in ensuring effective management of public resources, through the available avenues. Digital advocacy is one of the tools with the potential to not only put public officers to account but also enhance citizen participation in governance processes.

So how can we leverage on these platforms to build impact around good governance? At ELF, we firmly believe that young people have all it takes to harness the power of social media and transform their communities. We can drive social campaigns to empower others, eradicate drug abuse, call out ineffective leaders, share and teach best practices, market youth skills, put an end to impunity and inspire action. The impact of digital advocacy efforts as proved by previous campaigns such as #FeesMustFall, #MyDressMyChoice, #SomeoneTellCNN cannot be ignored. The revolutionary Arab Spring in 2010-2012 in which Middle East countries successfully opposed oppressive government regimes, largely owes its success to social media.

The ‘axeleretaz’ initiative is a game changer; an enabler of progress. 10 youth drawn from Makueni, Nairobi, Kakamega, Mombasa, and Nakuru are part of the first phase to be inducted through digital advocacy. They are community advocates in the areas of budget processes, reproductive health, active youth participation in political processes, mobile journalism and civic engagement.

The team is on a mission to not only highlight governance gaps as experienced in their communities, but also contribute to their solutions. Through research and consultations with stakeholders, the axeleretaz will share community stories of best practices on citizen responsibility; policy processes and governance.

We trust that you are taking note of the governance gaps in your community, and while at it, you and your peers are working on ways of solving the challenges to achieve the change you desire. Join the Axeleretaz Movement (@axeleretaz) in highlighting the same online and together, let us be the voice and accelerators of the change we so much need.
#AxelerateKE @axeleretaz

 

By Stella Nderitu,

Programmes Officer, Governance

Featured Alumnus: Sharon Etemesi

Sharon describes herself as productive, impressive and charismatic. She is a debate and public speaking trainer, Panel Moderator and Hackathon Facilitator working with the  Kenya National Debate Council. She studied hospitality and tourism management at Pwani University.

“My ELF experience was mind shifting, as it focused deeply on my knowledge of self (which is not a one-day journey) and helped me realize just how bright my candle can shine. The mental wellness in appreciating the good and the bad in life while being in control of reactions to these situations is a priceless gift from my ELF experience.” Says Sharon.

Ms. Etemesi trains structured debate to university and high school students and private coaching professionals who are advancing their careers and need polished oratory skills. Her greatest achievement has been being unanimously elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Pan African Council of Debate for Universities. This came only 2 months after her ELF graduation, during her stint at the program, she had learnt more on Pan Africanism and Women in Leadership.

We asked Sharon to share with us a story that stands out to her from her past; “While in standard 7, the school Principal flagged me one day in parade and ordered the whole school to  not associate with me because of how notorious I was. I had no friends, no study buddies- no one in a boarding school miles away from home. I was all alone at 12 years old and I felt depressed. I hated everyone and only found peace in my mother and one teacher (Teacher Ruth) who pulled me up. I acknowledge my mistakes and realize that it was a learning curve for me. The story goes on but the bottom line was that every action attracts a reaction of equal measure.”

If Sharon were to be a color, she would be Orange because she brightens people’s moods and has infectious happiness. Her all time favorite movie is Face Off because of the story line, the movie teaches her to focus on character rather than physical appearance.

Sharon finds time to give back to ELF by training some of our cohorts on debating and public speaking. We celebrate her today and we’re excited about what she’s doing and the prospects of her future.