22 November 2017

Kenya: Exclusive - Don't Read Much on My Photos With Odinga in Zanzibar

Photo: Nairobi News
Nasa leader Raila Odinga with the Kenyan tour guide at Park Hyatt Hotel in Zanzibar.

An innocuous request for a photo with Nasa leader Raila Odinga at a Zanzibar hotel on Tuesday evening opened they way for a chat over drinks on the integration of the east African region.

That is how Seraphine Mbote, a 37 year-old Kenyan tour guide living in Zanzibar ended up whiling away time with Mr Odinga on a breezy evening and getting photos that have since gone viral on social media.

When Ms Mbote ran into Mr Odinga at the Park Hyatt Hotel, she introduced herself as a Kenyan and requested to take a photo with him, a request the opposition leader gladly granted.

Ms Mbote then proceeded to chat with Baba (as she referred to him) during the meet up and later asked if she could share the photos online.

An aide to Mr Odinga's reportedly told Ms Mbote to only share the photos Wednesday morning.


Indeed she only posted the photos on Facebook Wednesday morning unaware of the internet storm she was about to start.

"I often work from the Park Hyatt Hotel and relax there some evenings so for me it was a normal Tuesday evening.

"When I saw Raila I went and told him, 'Hi Baba' he stood up and hugged me then I went on to introduce myself as a Kenyan living and working in Zanzibar," Ms Mbote told Nairobi News in an exclusive interview.

She then requested to have a photo with Mr Odinga and he obliged as they chatted about life in Zanzibar.

"I told him how hard it is to work and live in Zanzibar and we had a conversation on the efforts made so far to integrate the East African Region. I then asked if he was okay with me sharing the photos and he agreed, though his PA advised me to only share them in the morning," Ms Mbote recalled.


Mr Odinga and his friends then welcomed her to join their table for a drink.

"I joined them and we took drinks for a short while before I excused myself and headed to my house because I had an early morning meeting to attend in Arusha," she narrated.

Early morning Wednesday, she woke up to the most unforgettable day in her life.

The photos went viral on Facebook as soon as she had posted them, opening the floodgates for cruel, and abusive trolls. It was a reaction that she had not prepared for.

"At first I laughed off the insults but when people started Photoshopping my post, adding a condom and a bed, I then realized how sick our society is.

"We seriously need God-given wisdom in this country. How can people be this mean when I just met a humble politician away from home, took photos and shared and then Kenyans just blow it out of proportion?" she wondered.

The trolls has luckily not affected business at her Maridadi Villas that she established in 2014.

"I have managed to book five Kenyan families who contacted us after the viral photos. Two American families will also be holidaying with us and still holding a series of meetings in Arusha where I'm confident I'll sign a deal with an agency," said Ms Mbote.

Her last words to Kenyans who made her trend: "Thank you for propelling my business to the next level."

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