A popular Kenyan Chief who earned national and global recognition for using Twitter to communicate with residents of his area has died after a short illness.
Lanet Umoja Location Chief Francis Kariuki passed away while receiving treatment at Nakuru Level V Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
Confirming his death, Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui said an autopsy will be carried out on Thursday with the burial scheduled for Saturday.
He has been one of the most active local administrators on social media and was recognized globally for his efforts.
Kariuki joined Twitter in 2011 and actively used the platform to disseminate information about insecurity, government meetings, fire incidents, health camps, among others. A majority of Lanet Umoja residents subscribed to his tweets through a free text messaging service.
In 2018, he sent out a tweet to his 60,000 followers saying; “Kwa Kihanda nyumbani kuna moto kubwa sana majirani saidieni tafadhali. Pale karibu Umoja 2.”
Residents who received the message rushed to the homestead and helped put out the fire. A member of the family later tweeted thanking Chief Kariuki for saving their property.
“This tweet saved my family. We are all safe and I can’t believe how everyone came out to help. Thank you so much for your big hearts. I have no words. Thank you,” she wrote.
Chief Kariuki also saved a family from thugs by making a similar tweet in 2012. “Kuna wezi kwa baba Kelven saa hii pale Tuinuane. wako sitting room. tafadhalini tusaidiane,” he tweeted.
In an interview with CNN, Kariuki said: “Every time we have barazas (meetings) twice a month, I make attendees subscribe to my tweets using their regular SMS or text messaging services.”
He added: “It has not only saved on the cost of fliers, it has also allowed us to save trees and contribute to green efforts. A lot of people in town get the text tweets, even the thieves and police.”