Digital media affords us so many chances to spread the word on causes, protest and campaign for so many things online. However, it is not yet clear whether all the Twitter hashtags, gripping Facebook updates and YouTube videos effectively and directly lead to real world changes that affect policy and bring forth long term change. The Kenyan situation is even more complex. It is very hard to measure the results of online activism. For instance, there are a number of high profile activists in the class of Boniface Mwangi. They agitate for social change with very captivating media and posts; they have a large following, especially from the Kenyan middle class. One glimpse at their social media profiles and it appears that they are powerful brands. However, are they just potential forces of change that engage a few middle class in online spaces?
Two weeks ago, I passed by the market to buy my beloved plantains. As I was about to drive off, my supplier reminded me that his son had graduated with a degree in economics more than a year ago and was still jobless. His daughter had also followed suit and graduated with a degree in commerce. Unfortunately, she was also jobless. He was optimistic that I was the right person to find jobs for his children. When I suggested to him that it was not such a bad idea for them to think about opening a grocery business like his, he was not too impressed. I provoked him and told him as much as he felt his job was ‘low class’, he had managed to finance the education of his children to university level, surely that was a great achievement!
What is in an accent anyway? Turns out that there’s a lot of things. For some, it is a signifier of higher class and poshness acquired from studying in elite schools complete with elocution classes. For others, it is a source of anxiety and a sign of lower status. Whilst for others, it is a badge of identity that they wear very proudly.