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Githeri Man: From social media’s darling to ‘public enemy’ number one

By NAIRA HABIB December 13th, 2017 2 min read

He waltzed his way into the limelight to become Kenya’s biggest celebrity just for munching a simple meal of githeri while queuing to cast his vote during the August 8 general election.

That iconic photo turned him into a trending topic on social media overnight. Fame and good fortune soon followed.

Unsolicited goodies started coming his way from leading mobile network operator Safaricom while other Kenyan corporate practically fell over themselves just to get a piece of him.

On offer for Kenya’s newest poster boy were expensive gifts, free holiday trips and new suits that transformed him from the haggard man in an ill-fitting checked blazer to a suave, streetwise, sharp dresser.

Then came the surprise invitation to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration ceremony at Kasarani Stadium on November 28.


A Head of State Commendation during Tuesday’s Jamhuri Day celebrations capped off the roller-coaster ride that Martin Kamotho, popularly known as Githeri Man, has been riding for the last four months.

His has been the classic story of raising from grass to grace. His latest accomplishment however seems to have come at a big cost – the popularity that he enjoyed all along.

When the names of those listed for the Head of State Commendation came out, many Kenyans on social media expressed their disapproval with the choice of some of the recipients.

For obvious reasons, Githeri Man was the one whose selection drew the greatest resentment from the online community.

Apparently, the man who was once a darling of social media has now become ‘public enemy’ number one just as fast as he rose to celebrity status.

Here are some of the views shared by Kenyans on Twitter:

@simonwachira tweeted, “Scratched my head as I wrestled with the possible citation of this man’s award: For balancing a nylon paper full of githeri and holding a voter’s card and chewing. For this really hard act of multi-tasking, this man is honored.”

@abba_ndire asked, “What exactly has githeriman done to receive state honor…??? Apart from kubeba githeri na kusimama kwa line.”

@OtienoOevans said, “I ate githeri for four years in high school but I never received state commendation only for the githeri man who ate it for one day and received state commendation.”

@otiza commented, “At this rate I will go back to #githeri to be honored for eating #Githeriman.”

@ItsMusyoka retorted, “I think I’ve now seen it all the Kenyan way after the president decided to award Githeri Man for carrying githeri on voting day and fail to recognize sportsmen who made Kenya proud. How many people cued for long hours with empty stomachs? Bure kabisa.”

@geraldonchari said, “God bless Kenya. Though not happy at Githeri Man getting a head of state commendation.”