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Saturday, August 8, 2020

People think I’m a millionaire but I live a dog’s life

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Three years after gaining national limelight and fame, Martin Kamotho 44, has been living in squalid conditions within Nairobi’s Kayole area. Kamotho is the man popularly known as ‘Githeri Man’.

Kamotho made headlines after he was pictured carrying ‘githeri’ in a transparent polythene bag while waiting to vote during the August 2017 General Elections. The picture catapulted him to fame and he got a Head State Commendation from President Uhuru.

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Githeri Man Kamotho became instant magnet among other corporates who wanted a piece of him to push their products with ‘big name’ – in fact, he is cursing the day ten shilling githeri exposed him to the world since some of the promises were never fulfilled.

He lives in a rented house in Saba-Saba area of Kayole slums; his single room cannot accommodate a small family. But he stays alone – his only companion being his cat. He says he parted way with the mother of his daughter sometimes back.

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The three by four room has worn out sofas, old wooden table and a cupboard on which he places his radio – which continuously plays gospel music. This he says helps to cool his nerves and drive away loneliness. The floor of the house has a plastic “carpet”. The wall is decorated with colourful polyester material – with a bed sheet acting as wall to his bedroom.

“This is where I’ve lived for more than a decade. Many people think I’m rich. In fact, it makes me sad when they call me Githeri Man, thinking I am a millionaire. I have nothing. The people around here know me – they know ‘sina kitu’. Otherwise ‘wangekuwa wananipiga ngeta kila siku,” he said.

When he was invited to State House towards the end of 2017 to receive Head of State Commendation (HSC), Kamotho came back home with a cool Sh100, 000 token.

He was dressed in navy blue suits courtesy of President Uhuru’s stylist who offered to dress him every August until 2022 to mark how Kamotho brought much needed relief. In his house, Githeri Man, in his old jacket, a pair of jeans and Safari boots, rises to display the suit he wore when he met President Uhuru.

Kamotho and his uncle Gitua claim they have been visiting the store located in Kilimani, but they have never met the stylist. And so they decided just to stay away. When contacted, the stylist said: “Our gift for him is still valid, only that last year he had been admitted at rehabilitation centre, and I was also away in United Kingdom.”

User Name Properties had also promised him a plot in Ngong. This eventually happened.

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“I’m okay and ready to build a home. They called and asked me to hand over my documents so they can process my title deed. That’s what I’m waiting for,” said Kamotho.

Then there was Big Square Hotels along Mombasa Road. It is here that Githeri Man received Sh. 100, 000 token, optimistic that the joint will introduce githeri and pay him some commission depending on how the meal performs as assured. We have established that Big Square is still capitalizing on fast food, not githeri.

Bonfire Adventures was said to have taken Kamotho and family for holiday treat in Maasai Mara but this did not happen, the company CEO Simon Kabu said: “His trip is still available, we didn’t have his contacts but we are ready to take him anytime”.

Kamotho claims he pocketed around Sh. 150, 000 but all that has made him poorer since no one offered lasting solution or advised him afterwards. Kamotho was among 77 graduands who successfully completed a seven-month rehabilitation program at the Mama Care Rehabilitation Centre, Kiambu. President Uhuru Kenyatta was at the event.

– Additional adapted from SDE

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