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10 August 2017

Kenyans celebrate the well-prepared #GitheriMan voter

'GitheriMan' standing in a queue with a bag of Githeri (cooked beans)Image copyright
Unknown

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The man known only as ‘GitheriMan’ has been widely talked about in Kenyan media.

As Kenya digests the results of this year’s election, a photo of a man queuing to vote holding a bag of a Githeri has emerged on social media, providing some light relief during tense times.

Githeri is a traditional meal of boiled maize and beans, also known as mutheri, which is filling, nutritious and cheap.

Since the hashtag #GitheriMan was created, there have been more than 43,000 posts and even an appeal to find the mystery man carrying what appears to be his lunch.

A widely-circulated photo of First Lady Margaret Kenyatta queuing to vote in Nairobi, was one of the first to be photoshopped to include with Githeri Man offering her his food. Several other digitally-altered images put Githeri Man alongside two US presidents, Kim Kardashian, the Justice League and others, as collected by entertainment and lifestyle website SDE.

NTV Kenya picked up on the trending hashtag, and soon posted their own attempt at the meme, adding Githeri Man alongside their presenters on their break.

The Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol also included him in their line-up.

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As his popularity has grown, Githeri Man has been photoshopped into a series of iconic photographs from history and popular culture, ranging from the image of senior US officials watching the mission against Osama bin Laden, to President Trump’s meeting with Pope Francis.

Much talked-about television series Game of Thrones did not escape the meme-fest. Julie tweeted out a character holding out two bags of Githeri.

Image copyright
Original photo via Osservatore Romano

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President Trump and Pope Francis has not escaped the #GitheriMan meme

Some people assumed the man is hard up, but as Thomas pointed out on Chris Kirwa’s instagram post, he was prepared for a long and hungry wait in the queue.

On the same post, Simon lobbied to send Githeri Man on holiday after he has “united Kenyans across political divide and brought a sense of humour during the tense election period”.

There have been offers of more food, with one baker offering to “appreciate #GitheriMan with a cake.”

Several tweets suggest people are ‘quick to judge’ that he might need help. For example, @StanleyMejah tweeted: “It’s amazing how people determine what a person lacks by how he dresses and what he eats #GitheriMan”.

A Jamaican DJ called the assumption that Githeri Man needs his life fixing was “arrogant,” adding: “He’s probably happier than most people here.”

After a widespread search, Githeri Man has been found, according to Teddy Eugene of The African Voice radio.

His name is Martin Kamotho, aged 41, who works as a cleaner in the county government of Nairobi.

However, with the issue of electoral fraud and fear of violence prominent in Kenya, some have been quick to point out those ‘obsessed’ with #Githeriman makes them “worry about this great nation’s priorities.”

Written by BBC UGC and Social News team, with additional help from BBC Monitoring

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