Kenya has the third highest number of blogs in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa, a firm indication of the nation’s increasing IT literacy.
The main African blog aggregator — Agrigator — says Kenya has 739 blogs after Nigeria’s 1,351 and South Africa’s 9,183.
The last few years have seen rapid development in internet awareness and penetration.
A recent survey by the Communications Commission of Kenya put the number of internet users at 3.5 million.
As more Kenyans plug into the information super highway, blogs are emerging as a source of vital information.
Whether it is breaking news, analysis or commentary, blogs are increasingly commanding more authority as alternative sources of information.
The most pronounced blogging activity in Kenyan history was during the 2007/2008 post-election violence that marked a defining moment for the local blogosphere.
A blanket ban on live media coverage by the government at the height of the violence led to a gap in the information highway.
Kenyans in the diaspora sought to know what was happening back home and tired of the biased coverage in western media channels, they turned to the numerous blogs that were mushrooming in the Kenyan cyber space.
Unfettered by the media ban, the Kenyan blogosphere witnessed increased traffic like.
Popular Kenyan blog spot Mashada www.mashada.com was temporarily shut down after regulators were overwhelmed by inflammatory comments from bloggers.
Moses Kemibaro is a technology blogger who has been blogging for the last three years at www.moseskemibaro.com.
He says that bloggers have grown to become a credible and influential group in Kenya.
“Through blogging and social media there is now a second force for media reporting’” he says. “It’s a whole new world and with over three million internet users in Kenya, bloggers are starting to influence mainstream content and opinions on topics ranging from politics, sports, technology and other areas.”
As if bearing testament to his assertion, the corporate world is starting to court popular bloggers in the Kenyan blogosphere.
Several bloggers have reported an unprecedented interest from PR practitioners who come knocking armed with press releases and pre-launched products.
“We now get invited to all major product launches and conferences just like the mainstream media,” says Mr. Kemibaro. “I get invited to attend international and local technology conferences, workshops and seminars. I also get products to review such as mobile phones from manufacturers as they believe my opinion counts”.
The general classification of blogs lists four main categories: by media type, by genre, personal and corporate and organisational.
The personal blog is a continuous diary or commentary by an individual.
Personal bloggers are often sentimental and their blogs often become a way to reflect on life or works of art.
Corporate and organisational blogs are meant for business purposes.
They are targeted internally to enhance the communication and culture in a corporation and externally for branding or public relations purposes.
Blogs classified by genre focus on a particular subject, such as politics, fashion, education or arts and literature.
Another classification is by media type and this defines blogs by the type of media used to create and publish postings.
A blog comprising of videos is called a vlog, one made up of photos is called a photoblog while one with mixed media types is called tumblelog.
Juliet Maruru is another blogger with two active blogs, the first is Sheblossoms at www.jmaruru.wordpress.com.
“The title was born out of something someone close to me said. He likened me to a blossoming cactus growing in the desert that survives the harsh conditions, and when the occasional morning dew hits, it blossoms with beautiful flowers,” she said. “It was a new way of looking at my life. I write about things I care about; identity, personal trials, social trends and life in general”.
Her second blog The Princess Project (K) www.kenyanprincessproject.wordpress.com is a mixture of entertainment, enlightenment and empowerment developed mainly for young women between 16 and 28 years.
The blog comprises of the Creekside Princess Webisodes - now in the 2nd season, poetry, book reviews, advice, editorials and personal life accounts.
“I set up Sheblossoms because I wanted critique for my writing and a forum to share my thoughts, while The Princess Project (K) is a team generated site aimed at bringing together young women at a point on the internet where they can find entertainment that opens up discussion, encourages the search for knowledge, and empowers them to grow into creative thinkers.”
A major upside of blogging is that since the work is online, a creator can administer his blog from anywhere in the world.
The Princess Project (K) for example is administrated by several content developers who only meet face to face once in four months.