For Kenyan poet, there is life in the blogosphere

Poet Njeri usually has the audience applauding. Photo/CHARLES KAMAU

Njeri Wangari has a powerful voice, and she knows how to put it to good use. Whenever she takes to the podium to recite a poem, she has her enthusiastic audience applauding all the way.

The 28-year-old IT specialist is part of an emerging popular culture in Nairobi. A dedicated group of Nairobi poetry lovers religiously congregate at different venues in the city to listen to poetry recitals.

Here, you are likely to listen performances from the sublime to the plain, but Njeri will almost always raise the bar too high for the rest.

“My poetry revolves around issues that affect us on a day-to-day basis,” says the head of IT at East African Educational Publishers (EAEP). “Performance plays an important role in poetry. Depending on how you do it, performance brings poems to life.”

Njeri says that her performances depend on the topic of her poem. The way she performs a poem on women’s rights, she says, will be different from the way she does one on love. She is also part of the growing community of Kenyan bloggers.

Her popular blog called Kenyanpoet “showcases the best in Kenyan arts; music, writing, poetry, fine art, art reviews as well as information on emerging art trends”.

“When I was starting a blog, I had to look for a name that brought out my identity as a Kenyan,” she says. “I decided to start a blog so as to showcase my works. This was after realising that mainstream publishers were not keen on publishing individual pieces of poetry unless it was an anthology.”

Njeri describes her blog, which can be accessed via, as a one-stop shop for people looking for information on matters related to art.

Njeri has already left a mark in the blogging world. The Kenya ICT board recently invited her to a conference, where she represented bloggers. Seeing as more and more Kenyans are turning to the Internet for information, Njeri and her fellow bloggers like to refer to themselves as citizen journalists.

“You see not every person can contribute their ideas in the mainstream media, so people have turned to blogging, where they are free to express their ideas,” she says.

However, blogging is fast catching on and the mainstream media have not been left behind.

“Blogging is mostly driven by passion, that is why you find that most blogs are theme-oriented, from sports, politics, the arts to technology,” explains Njeri.

She is a member of a committee organising a major conference for African bloggers later in the year.

“The conference to be called Kelele will address the issue of whether bloggers can bring about change on the continent,” she says.

Ironically, in a recent poem posted on her blog, Njeri mourns the death of one-on-one communication, under the onslaught of information technology

“Now instead of facing each other, we Face Book, Our voices have become keys that we punch on keyboards, Our smiles and emotions have become smileys and icons,” she writes in the poem titled Digital Hearts.

She honed her poetry performing skills at the monthly Kwani? Open Mic recitals, which take place every first Tuesday of the month at Club Soundd in Nairobi.