Matiang’i visits tweeting chief Kariuki’s widow in Nakuru

Fred Matiang'i

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i (right) when he visited the the family of the late Umoja Lanet Chief Francis Kariuki in Nakuru on January 11, 2021.

Photo credit: Eric Matara | Nation Media Group

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i on Monday evening made an impromptu visit to the family of the late Umoja Lanet Chief Francis Kariuki, who was popularly known as the 'tweeting chief', to condole with the family.

Dr Matiang'i, who was accompanied by Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya and a host of other local administrators, was received by the chief’s widow Peris Kariuki and his son Ken Kariuki.

Shortly after the visit, Dr Matiang'i wrote on his Facebook account: "The late Chief Francis Kariuki, who was popularly known as the 'tweeting chief', was a devoted public servant and a genuine team player. I remember him as a reasonable administrator who set an example for others to follow."

"We, his colleagues in the national government administration, stand together and we will support his young family diligently and without fear just as he stood with us," the CS said.

The globally recognised tech-savvy chief died in Nakuru on October 21, 2020, aged 55.

Died in hospital

He died while receiving treatment at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital where he had been taken for emergency treatment after experiencing breathing difficulties.

He was buried the same month but Dr Matiang'i did not attend the funeral ceremony as he was attending to other official matters.

The chief became popular for using Twitter and other social media platforms to facilitate his functions and pass crucial information to locals.

Chief Kariuki is remembered for embracing technology in his administration and community policing at a time when most of his peers thought that social media was a waste of time or had no idea about its usefulness.

He attracted global attention in 2014 for using Twitter to fight crime and became Kenya’s face of a ''digital chief''.

Joined Twitter

Chief Kariuki joined the Twitter platform in June 2011, a year after being transferred from the Ministry of Education where he worked as a teacher.

His interest in technology later saw him win international recognition and he was awarded a Giraffe Heroes Kenya Award 2014 by Initiatives of Change, an NGO.

He administered in a community of more than 30,000 residents.

By the time of his death, his Twitter account showed he had about 60,000 followers with those who received his tweets via text messages said to be in the thousands.

Through tweeting, Chief Kariuki had brought down the crime rate in Lanet Umoja.

He also used Twitter to encourage unemployed youths through messages of hope.

Although he rarely engaged directly with his followers, many understood his platform was a unique one.

“I am using Twitter as a tool for community policing, neighbourhood watch and crime reporting activities,” Chief Kariuki once told the Nation in an interview.

He had a degree in counselling psychology from the Mount Kenya University from where he graduated in 2015. He undertook the course through virtual learning.


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