Modelling Success

Women and Self-Making in Kenyan Digital Spaces 1

Authored by: Dina Ligaga

Routledge Handbook of African Popular Culture

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367483869
eBook ISBN: 9781003080855
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues that digital platforms in Kenya can be considered as crucial sites for the (re)inventing of the self for women, for whom other public spaces are not always easily accessible or available. By focusing on the popular arena of social media, the chapter explores the ways in which self-invention happens. The chapter identifies opportunities opened up on social media, recognising that often these exist within neoliberal contexts and notes the contradictions that frame ideas of freedom and success. Nonetheless, the chapter emphasizes how social media sites and forms of expression therein exist as alternative locations from which gendered power can be contested, and where personal sites of freedom can be engaged. I analyze the online content of popular Kenyan musician and entrepreneur, Esther Akoth, more popularly known as Akothee. Akothee is well known for pushing boundaries of accepted gendered behaviour, and produces music as well as other forms of cultural productions through her social media pages that provoke debate. She is a cultural personality whose creative and innovative use of social media networks have enabled her to grow as an entrepreneur. As a cultural entrepreneur, she is mobile enough to navigate multiple locations of identity and emerge as a unique figure for social change.

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