Nanjira Sambuli is an emerging voice of Kenya’s digital space.
At 24 she is definitely punching above her age but as the Igbo say, if a child washes his hands he could eat with the kings.
The World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme are some of the international bodies that seek her services.
She is consistently at the center of unfolding conversations in Kenya’s and international cyberspace.
She is @NiNanjira on twitter and her bio reads – New Media Evangelist. Musician. Futurist. Polymath. Pan-Africanist. Representing Africa one tweet at a time! Africa isn’t poor, just mismanaged.
Recently she was a panelist in a talk dubbed ‘Perspectives of the Digitization of Art and Life in Kenya’. The panel consisted largely of folk with Prof.’s and Dr.’s in their titles and she was able to comfortably hold her own.
In the midst of her busy schedule she graciously made time to chat with Moderate Kenyan on matters professional and personal.
Moderate: What words describe Nanjira
Nanjira: Introvert. Melancholic. Open-book. Spontaneous.
Moderate: How would competitors/friends describe you
Nanjira: Competitors would say overly passionate. My friends would say I am funny and goofy.
Moderate: Most important thing to you
Nanjira: It goes through phases. Currently it is seeing Kenya go through this crazy phase and jump into a progressive path. Kenya has never gone through civil war. I hope that we do not have to go through it to realize what we have. I also want to break barriers that exist globally for the youth and foster collaborative exchange of ideas.
Moderate: Most important person to you
Nanjira: (pauses) Me! It is I who is the master of my fate with God as my guide. I know I am gifted, a polymath, I have to make my gifts count before I die.
Moderate: Most influential person in your life
Nanjira: My closest pals right now. My immediate circle of friends number six or seven. They have refused to let me be less than what I can be. They call me out and keep me accountable always.
Moderate: Happiest moment in your life thus far
Nanjira: (pauses and ponders for a while) Eish, this is a hard question. I am honestly drawing a blank. I guess my happy moments are too many for me to pick one.
Moderate: Difficult moment in your life thus far
Nanjira: My childhood. We moved around a lot and thus I was not rooted. I became a loner and do not have any childhood friends. It is a plus now as I learnt how to detach and also can easily be a global citizen.
Moderate: Key lesson learnt
Nanjira: I have learnt that as fire is the test of gold, adversity is the test of strong men.
Moderate: You describe yourself as a New Media evangelist. Explain
Nanjira: I am passionate about communication and realize the limitless opportunity that the digital space provides. Think of me like a preacher who tells people the importance of having an online presence. I am the Generation Y poster child!
Moderate: Are you an activist
Nanjira: (laughs) No! I have been called that but people close to me know how I hate that word. I reckon activism is a call to action. I am not yet at a position to do that so I stay away from it. I am into advocacy and awareness as I reckon that for enlightenment people need facts.
Moderate: Are you for hire on the digital space or is what you do about conviction
Nanjira: No! I would not endorse anything I do not believe in. Money is fleeting. Reputation and ideals are more tangible.
Moderate: You would not work for the politicians populating the digital space
Nanjira: No! I would not endorse a candidate for money. Politics can really burn someone. I would agree to be hired to explain the ecosystem but never to pigia debe a candidate.
Moderate: You are big on Pan-Africanism. Tell me about it
Nanjira: I am informed by the connections I have made online. I have encountered an African Diaspora driven by a wish to make Africa better. It is a re-birth of the Pan-Africanism that was big immediately after independence. I reckon we are carrying on the spirit of our fore-fathers.
Moderate: “Africa is not poor, just mismanaged” is a quote you repeat often. Why
Nanjira: It is more than just a quote. It is a mindset. It is something that I have strong convictions about. It is my mantra. I am living it in the tasks and projects that I undertake.
Moderate: What kind of projects are you currently undertaking
Nanjira: I am part of a project that is engaging researchers, lecturers and such like policy folk and showing them how to tap into the digital conversation. The project seeks to bring the intellectuals on border as regards digital sphere and demystify new media to them.
Moderate: You are an actuarial science graduate, a dread-locked musician and a consummate creative. Contradiction or not.
Nanjira: Actually not. A look at history tells you that the greatest creatives were the folk who knew a lot. Da Vinci springs to mind. And Math which is just sequential logic is art!
Moderate: Ever put your actuarial degree to work
Nanjira: I interned in a bank and also in an insurance firm. Yes, shockingly. Even wore suits to works. (laughs). In my current undertakings as a digital evangelist I do work with numbers a lot. For example I am part of a World Bank open data project that seeks to undertake an in-depth analysis of foreign aid given to countries, its intended use and its actual use. So yes, I am using math artistically.
Moderate: Parting shot
Nanjira: To thy own self be true.
Moderate: Thank you for your time.
The Igbo also say you can tell a ripe corn by its look.
Nanjira Sambuli is definitely someone to watch and Moderate Kenyan is watching.
GOD BLESS KENYA!
(Photo credits : Reumac, Steve Kitoto and Truthslinger respectively)