Story Book

Are We Now Exploiting #Githeriman?

Ever been told a joke and the first time, it’s hilarious! You are almost peeing yourself; then someone else comes and tells the same joke,then another person, then it gets to a point it’s no longer funny and it actually irritates you that all these people are just telling it over and over again?

I think I’m at that point.

There he was, Martin Kamotho, waiting in line vote. It was a chilly morning and his oversized brown coat was serving him well. He took out his paperbag of boiled githeri (a mixture of maize and beans where the ratio of maize:beans is usually 1:2) and started eating away, looking on with a concerned look on his face at how much further he had to go to get to the front of the line to vote for his preferred candidates. At that exact same time, a high school graduate, a young man by the name of Ian Kinuthia finding it amusing and encouraging, took out his phone and snapped away, posting it on twitter.

Little did he know that picture was the beginning of something close to an avalanche.

I saw the 8/8 post early in the morning and had a little chuckle, moved on to the next and didn’t think much of it. Well, to be honest I wondered if the githeri was warm enough and if it had enough salt; I personally love mine with stew and cabbage and waru, some carrot too… (yes, I am that typical mashakura loving Kikuyu when it comes to githeri hahaha! Mix them, gather them!)But I digress.

Then the memes happened and brands jumped on them, others even creating their own, looking for the now #Githeriman

(👆🏾👆🏾👆🏾That was my fav one by the way.)

These brands started gifting him and I went “Awww! That is so nice! Collect all of em Githeriman! It’s your blessing! Changamkia zote!”  I was amused by the way he was a symbol of unity during the trying time that was elections in our country Kenya. I applauded when he was found and we got to know his real name. I watched as media personalities scrambled to take pics with him, almost passing him along like a can of soda, sipping on the many likes they would get, because: ALL FOR THE GRAM right?

Then my stomach turned. Something had changed. 😔

I am all for the gifting and I understand that brands will do what brands do best and that is take advantage of an opportunity. Publicity and marketing. It’s business after all. What doesn’t sit well with me though is the fact that Martin aka Githeriman, has to be seen with his bag of githeri EVERYWHERE he goes with these brands, wearing the EXACT same suit he wore on voting day, for recognition.

He will be told to eat it on camera all the time (I really hope he’s taking lots of water coz that dry githeri can give you hella constipation!) Will be told to wave it from the sunroof of a car,

Will be told to serve it?

“Do that, and we will give you a year supply of this, or a new this, pose for this pic and we will give you that.”

That, dear friends, in my humble opinion isn’t gifting, it’s EXPLOITING.



I wonder who his manager is now. Of course there’s a Kenyan outchea already bagging royalties and securing these deals. Telling brands,”Oh you want him to hold up the githeri? SURE no problem!” with no consideration for his dignity as a human being.  How am I almost certain of this? Because “Githeriman” now has an IG, and Twitter account, thanking the brands that have “gifted him”. Value back to the brands.

And can we start calling him by his real name? He didn’t choose to be called Githeri Man, we chose it for him. So don’t even think of saying ati that’s his brand name. Just a thought.

What would I do if I was Martin? Continue doing it of course! This is the best gig that has ever come my way and for what? Eating githeri from a paper bag? I will do what they say. He doesn’t know any better, this stardom is new to him. The question here though isn’t, why doesn’t he say, “Enough!” The question should be, why haven’t WE Kenyans called it for what it is? Exploitation?

Let me do it for you then.

There’s a saying down at the coast that goes, “Tenda wema, nenda zako” – Do your good deed and be on your way. Expect nothing in return. I wonder if some of these brands know about this.

Then there was this post from a man I admire, also a colleague – G Money who had this to say when a certain citizen, way before we knew Martin’a name or what he does, called out to the masses to have a charity drive for him. Really?

A post that has since received its fair share of hate. Lol. Kenyans.

What do you think about this issue? Maybe you have a different approach to this matter. Kindly share below! I’d love to discuss.

Love. Live. Learn.

Mwalimu Rachel.


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Comments (39)

  1. Thank you for your article. Yes it is exploiting the moment, I look at it as a positive thing. When Ian took that photo it was probably meant to mock the situation that martin was in. As Kenyans we chose to look at the positive and blew it way out of proportion, he gave us joy, he showed us what was truly Kenyan and connected across tribal and class lines. His humility brought him to greatness. Now regarding the gifts, maybe he was happier in his life before but it’s also an opportunity for him to build his name and status. As a cleaner for the county I equate it to winning the lottery for just living your life. He has the ability to commercialize out of these promotions and earn a living for the betterment of his family particularly his young daughter. Imagine he will continue securing his family’s future with some of the endorsements he has made, speak to anyone earning what he was and you will know even for him it’s a big blessing. He has the ability to build a brand on a national platform, think about how many have tried but failed.
    For our companies it is a chance to push the agenda for buy Kenyan build kenya, I’m shocked that flavour companies and vegetable oil companies have not called him to endorse their Kenyan products. It can be used to deliver positive messages, I don’t feel marketers have thought it all the way through.
    If for a day, if for a month or however long it lasts Githeriman or martin will have a place in the history books and the hearts of Kenyans. Are they being exploited? Maybe but they too have chosen to exploit the situation so it is a win-win.

  2. Well Mwalimu i wish this gets to the people who thinks they could be celebrities by takin pictures alongside Martin. its actually not funny anymore the media has exosted the fun in it. its actually an exploitation that’s going on. i quote your say “tenda wema nenda zako” ayiiii.

  3. I believe that indeed the #GitheriMan has had his fair share of “15 minutes of fame” and indeed he has maximized this moment. But I also tend to agree with G-Money and who says that the man in question is in need to “be fixed”? Indeed the companies should not ‘exploit’ the situation thus could easily lead to the gentleman being “an embarrassment” (for lack of a better word). He was just a man practicing his civic duty and it should be left at that. The choice of what “GitheriMan” wants to follow in terms of his unexpected fame should be left to him and only him!

    1. Well put Philip! Asante sana for your thoughts. Can you imagine if he doesn’t even like Githeri that much, only that he was hungry and that was all he could afford or access at the time and now he’s being “condemned” to eat it everywhere he is seen? Hahahaha! Tragic! I thought about it and got sad for him.

  4. Thank you so much for pointing out this. Was going crazy thinking i am the only one who feels that he is being exploited. Just like you no harm in gifting or receiving them but who said since he was eating githeri he is poor or unhappy i found it arrogant to make an assumption of that kind. On that same day a woman died while queuing to vote we have seen nothing on that, or all of us who carried food from home to go and vote. This was blown way out of proportion.. But to be clear this is just my opinion and like armpits they all stink you don’t have to agre

    1. Hahaha! Stephanie you are just funny! Thank you for being here dear. It really was blown out of proportion. I want him though to take as much as he can and be wise about it! Just like fame, it could all go away in minutes.

  5. Thank you so much for pointing out this. Was going crazy thinking i am the only one who feels that he is being exploited. Just like you no harm in gifting or receiving them but who said since he was eating githeri he is poor or unhappy i found it arrogant to make an assumption of that kind. On that same day a woman died while queuing to vote we have seen nothing on that, or all of us who carried food from home to go and vote. This was blown way out of proportion.. But to be clear this is just my opinion and like armpits they all stink you don’t have to agree with me.

  6. Of all the personalities i find honest is Chris Kirwa. Though the brands are using him for their marketing its time they show us the contract sined so that we can know his future is brighter. And that in the bext three years he will still have the benefits. I believe if he was destined to make apperaences this is the time though. All we should hope is that this goodies are for a long time.Let not the media air a story of how he is suffering.

    1. Hey Fiona. I don’t know whether it would be right to see his contract (legally) but, as they say, time will tell! At this time he is riding the wave and as he should! I really hope he is not taken advantage of beyond repair.

  7. until now is when I realized that you know all this is actually making sense. I for one would love the publicity of course for the gram but hey Martin is having what most will call a dream. I think the brand’s are now exploiting him and it’s only he who has the power to stop all that.

  8. I think the way you took that matter isnt right…kwani will he be made to carry that githeri and even eat it by the brands for free…he is getting something out of it for sure….

    1. That may be true Modizo but as the talent- in this case Martin, you can decide what the contract says you will do and not do. For instance, just because Celina is the brand ambassador for Harpic, does that mean she has to carry Harpic EVERYWHERE she goes and wear blue everywhere? No.You have to secure your brand so you stay true to who you are even if you are being paid by brands to represent them.

  9. I think the #GitheriMan is a passing fad. It’s only a matter of time before the lights go out and the curtains fall. In my opinion what I deem best is to do for him like what was done for Bonoko [Give a man fish and he’ll come back for more, teach him how to fish and you probably will have set him for life.] Let’s catapult Martin unto the next level using the platform he’s generated, teach him how to fish instead of giving him fish and we’ll have done him great service.
    As said earlier, it’s only a matter of time before something else breaks the internet.

    1. Said it like a pro! Couldn’t agree more! I was actually having a similar conversation with friends about the Bonoko story. Indeed teach him how to fish and he won’t need freebees. Thank you Mugambi.

  10. I feel the same way I posted my opinion about the same issue because I felt someone is taking advantage of the attention he is getting the same case happened to the lady of serekali saidia she did like two advertisements now I don’t known where she went too.
    The issue is that the don’t get the right advice from people of which is sad

    1. The serikali saidia lady- Jane Adika- was actually made flood preparedness ambassador, must have been in 2015. I think she is still doing that. But back to what you were saying Kelvin, and I agree, they need proper advice from professionals.

  11. It’s not exploitation my dear. Jalango the comedian wears his green coat and yellow leopard print shirt as his identity, it doesn’t mean that he has one outfit. He used to be a cleaner now he gets some kind of royalty for the githeri being sold at bigsquare. Getting recognised by brands. Don’t you think his life has changed for the better. Atachanuka tu and atajua how to handle the endorsements. For now let him eat githeri by the buckets and take as many selfies as he can. Build his brand. Challenge for him is what next.

    1. Hahahahahah! Eat githeri by the buckets! Too funny! Thanks Marto. Lakini pia in Jalango’s case, HE decided what his outfit would be as a brand. Highly doubt Martin had that choice. Maybe aliambiwa tu, vaa hii, kula hii from this paper bag. Lol. Thanks for cracking me up!

  12. It’s quite unfortunate that Martin doesn’t understand all this he’s used to being ‘Boy wa mtaa’ and leading the life in it but if he could get a manager who will guide him well and the manager be loyal as well he will lead a better life

  13. With all the fuss around him Kenyans will soon forget about him I am not cursing him but it will be the same media that will go highlight his plight I don’t curse him that’s when he gets to the point of being termed irrelevant.
    The problem Martin has is that he’s used to the ‘Boy wa mtaa’ kind of life and now he got the media all over him he doesn’t understand all this. How I wish he would get a responsible manager to help him.

  14. I totally agree he’s now being treated like some mannequin everyone wanting to take a pic with him.The guy’s probably tired!

    1. Eh! Jameni! He must be tired smiling all the time, taking selfies not understanding what the big fuss about his githeri is. Hahahah! Waaah! But I do wish him all the best! I really do. I want him to WIN.

  15. Lemmie appreciate our social culture in 254 esp #Kot they made this photo go viral.
    Then there’s the Brand part which I totally agree with you Rach as long as he gets his share from this marketing thing; I think the least they could do is give him some light on Branding & stuff,,,,,, But hey this is 254 exploitation must take place.

    1. Lazima watu watakula. That’s business. I only hope he gets the lion’s share you know? And that he is in control of what he wants to do and where he wants to take his newly found status in Kenya. As always, thanks Winnie for being here.

  16. Kwanza ratio ya githeri kwa ma hustler ni 2:1 ie Maize:Beans hio yako ni ya na punk

    OK I have never done any brand promotion for a particular company, but if I would get the opportunity kama ya Martin I wouldnt juggle with it.
    Now the problem comes to fame, can he handle it?? Does he have a reliable Manager kos Hao ndio hu waste celebrity… Exploitation come here kwa Manager.

    Long comment.. Sorry Mwalimu.

    1. LMAO!!! Mimi githeri yangu ikiwa na mahindi excess siwes kula! Ratio must be 1:2 lol! Lakini umenena Pravin. The problem will come in from the manager hapo ndio mtu kujengwa ama huporomoka. And don’t worry about the length of the comment! Hata sii long. Jiwachilie hapa. No problem at all.

  17. I’m glad someone has put this in writing… I’ve told guys this is now exploitation..The guy has a life, they will leave him when they are done with him and for what? So they can promote their brands? I hope he gets a good managed i hope he gets a voice to ‘No’ to carrying around githeri.. ‘No’. But then again…

  18. Well its a blessing…
    But surely kufanywa ule githeri kama kazi…
    This article has really shone light. I never for a second thought of it in this perspective. All we saw was fame and opportunities to better keshoz for him,well which ofcourse is happening.
    His fortune in a bag of githeri.. I hope it and pray it all remains well for him.