My life as a Tiktok famous quarry girl: Surviving in a male dominated field
In the blink of an eye, achieving digital stardom can be as simple as uploading a video that goes viral. For some, it results in a fleeting 15 minutes of fame, while for others, it transforms them into social media sensations.
The latter is undoubtedly true for the ever-cheerful and tenacious 22-year-old Shiku Kariuki, a manual stone crusher hailing from Kieni Constituency in Nyeri County.
Despite her youth, Shiku’s infectious outlook on life serves as a wellspring of inspiration, igniting hope and determination in everyone she encounters.
Shiku’s unwavering commitment to hard work and her boundless optimism for a brighter future have deeply resonated with her dedicated community of nearly 50,000 TikTok followers.
Beyond the confines of the screen, they have become her steadfast pillars of support, wholeheartedly rallying behind her dreams with remarkable financial generosity.
Motivated by her unrelenting spirit and unwavering determination, they have collectively turned the page on her life as a stone crusher.
Together, they have laid the foundation for her chicken-rearing farm, and equipped her with a vital water pump that has allowed her to venture into cultivating a diverse array of crops, including potatoes, peas, maize, and French beans.
But that’s not all; Shiku’s TikTok fame has captured the attention of an enterprising land-selling company, solidifying her status as an influential voice.
Today, she isn’t just forging a brighter future; she is writing a story of resilience, success, and her journey toward fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher, one hard-earned step at a time.
Nairobi News recently caught up with Shiku to learn more about who she is and gain insights into her life following her remarkable online successes, in a quick celebrity chat.
NN: Who is your immediate family?
SK: I have my parents and two sisters.
NN: Tell us about your childhood…
SK: I grew up while studying in Nairobi. When I got to class four, my family moved back home to Nyeri and I joined a public school. My parents used to take on any kind of job to raise us well. I managed to top the Kenya Certificate of Public Education national examinations at the public school I was in. I later joined high school and life went on.
NN: How did you find yourself manually crushing stones?
SK: I started hustling back in 2016 after completing my Class 8. We had gone for a hustle somewhere but we were paid very little money, Sh 150, and I really wanted to save money for my school fees. I saw that this would not be enough. So I began working in quarries, crushing stones and I saved some money to join form one in secondary school. I joined late, like one week to midterm and I managed to complete my secondary school education. I then joined college, where I studied plumbing.
NN: What does your day as a stone crusher look like?
SK: Crushed stone is measured in 20-litre buckets. In a day, I can fill up to 50 buckets and sell each at Sh 10. I begin working at 6am and close at 7pm. I can make between Sh 250 and Sh 300 a day.
NN: What do you eventually aspire to be?
SK: I want to become a teacher. I want to teach.
NN: What challenges do you especially face as a woman working in a male-dominated sector?
SK: I have been financially manipulated. You find that we collaborate together with men to load stones onto a lorry, and then they refuse to give me my cut. The only thing I can do about it is that if a client brings a lorry to me, I tell the men none of them will load their stones on the lorry. It would just be me.
NN: What is your secret to finding joy and happiness in everyday life?
SK: Enjoying my sweat. No matter how much I struggle to make it, I purpose to enjoy my sweat because had it not been my effort, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t want to say ‘were it not for the other person, I wouldn’t be here.’ Let it be me.
NN: If you were to ask God one thing, what would you ask Him?
SK: I’d like to know why people like mistreating girls in the name of promising them jobs and then end up conning them…why do people like misusing young women badly?
NN: If you won millions in a lottery, what would be your immediate move?
SK: I’ll buy a lorry so that I can do stones delivery countrywide.
NN: You are a TikTok celeb because of your stone crushing content, what is the funniest message you’ve ever gotten from your followers?
SK: Wueh. I don’t think I’ve gotten anything funny. Just a lot of abusive language that made me uninstall TikTok at some point.
NN: When you walk along the road, and someone recognises you from TikTok, how do you react?
SK: ‘Oh my God, you saw me?’ I tell them yes, it is me. I’ve met with many people who know me, and you find someone telling me they will pay my bus fare even though I don’t know them.
NN: Let’s talk about some fashion for a second. What can’t you go a day without?
SK: My earrings. I’d feel like I’m naked.
NN: What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever purchased in your closet?
SK: A skirt. Skirts need bodies that they can cling onto. I don’t like skirts. Zimenikataa ( loosely translated as ‘It has refused me’).
NN: What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done in life?
SK: I wore rugged jeans (she bursts out laughing). When I walked along the road, everyone kept asking if it was me. They were really shocked. That situation really bothered me. And everyone knew me and it was something I never wore before. When I wore it, everyone was telling me I have changed. They claimed TikTok had spoilt me.
NN: How would you want to be remembered by future generations?
SK: There is no work that you can’t do as long as it brings your respect and it is good for you. As long as the job allows you to inspire people, go for it.
NN: If you were to write a letter to your younger self, what would you tell her?
SK: Despite the situations and what you’ve gone through, your day is coming and its going to make you shine and glow more.
NN: If you were to contribute anything in the world to change things, what would you contribute?
SK: Mentoring people to believe in themselves no matter what the day brings, tomorrow would be better than today. This is the personal motto I live by.
NN: What’s your final message to people who watch you and will read this story?
SK: Never give up despite the situation you are in. And be proud of your job. If you are an employer or employee, be proud; and treat your employees well.