The Boylan Sisters: ‘We are not on social media and that’s ok’
It has been a battle of wits as we seek the right adjectives to describe the Boylan Twins. They are beautiful, ambitious, sociable and multi-talented. Njeri, the older twin (by one minute!), has her hair in a high ponytail. I take that as an expression of her individual style and thoughtful personality. Wambui has chosen a more relaxed look. She has let her hair free and her shoulder length mane complements her black skater dress and stylish ankle boots. She immediately comes off as a spontaneous and outspoken individual.
Despite these inconspicuous differences, the twins affirm that they share a blissful life. They come from a close knit family of six and have had to become each other’s confidant given the huge age difference between them and their two older siblings. Their decision to have no social media accounts is informed partly, by the fact that they don’t watch television either. ‘It is our family culture and from an early age we only enjoyed television over the weekends. We had to be doing something else with our time. This practise stuck with us and to date watching TV is not such a priority for either of us’
Twitter, facebook, instagram and the many other social media accounts are all too consuming for them. Njeri says, ‘I think the over load of information is a big issue facing teenagers today. The internet space has its advantages and disadvantages. We however, feel that many young people are spending too much time in that space. The conversations had online can very well be had offline. After chatting all day on social media you have nothing else to talk about when you meet your friends, if you do make time to meet them.’ Given their age, it is an assumption that they are immersed in celebrity gossip and entertainment news and they both admit that they get that puzzled look when they turn down offers to link up on social media.
At only 18, the twins have a strong sense of accomplishment and are individually impacting their communities with their different talents. For Njeri, ballet is her source of comfort and inspiration and she has been dancing since she was 7 years old. I have learned to work with others, my confidence has increased and my creative and organisational skills have greatly improved. The project has also given me something else to think about beyond myself, this in in spite of the challenges of balancing my time between school, family and friends.’
Wambui has her sights on everything books. She joined the library committee under her school’s Community Action and Service Programme. She collects books to refurbish libraries in informal settlements. ‘The committee is organising a book drive where we will collect books from our school mates over the next two weeks. I one of the events, we will ask them to come dressed in casual wear and they will be required to bring along a book to gain access. We hope that through this engagement, people will begin to appreciate books a lot more and to spread this goodwill to other children who do not have as many books as they do’ For her, the project has been a learning platform on team work and organisation. As she grows older she realises that she is becoming more resolute, a quality that allows her to make better decisions and bring positivity to her community.
Twinning does not however, mean that their futures are tied to the same dream. Njeri for example, leans more on the scientific side and hopes to major in medicine. She hopes for a country and continent that appreciates the versatility of young people. ‘I want the youth to realise that they can do anything they will to do. You don’t have to be straight and narrow in your pursuits and you can explore as many disciplines as your gifts allow. It may be a bit hard for the African youth but the whole idea of being a global citizen is to be very vibrant and adaptable. I want to be part of that generation that got Kenya and Africa switched on!’
Wambui affirms the need for equality in accessing opportunities. ‘I want equal development for everyone and that does not necessarily mean having skyscrapers in all the counties. If I have the opportunity to be a doctor or a lawyer, many other children should have the same opportunity so that we have a big pool of professionals to rely on. I would also like to see the standards of success expanded such that one does not have to be a doctor or lawyer to be considered successful. Times are changing and by the time we are older there are will be so many other careers that we should be preparing for today.’
As an aspiring animator, she enjoys graphic design and digital arts and hopes that she will contribute to the development of animation across the continent. She says, ‘I want people to appreciate that Africa is doing something. We might be the least developed but I still feel that we are doing really well despite our challenges.’