Githeri Man – Proof that you should not go yada yada about Privacy

There is someone reading this article who would literally kill another person, also reading this article, if the second person took the first person’s picture in public and went ahead to post the picture on social media. As it happened, githeri man didn’t mind his picture being taken and subsequently photoshopped in all manner of places and situations and posted on social media – actually making him the Kenya’s newest social media celebrity.

Before Martin Kamotho’s photo of him eating githeri while on queue waiting to cast his vote on August 8th 2017 was taken, very few Kenyans knew him. Today, after someone probably on the same queue violated his privacy to take his picture while eating githeri, not only do we know him by name, but we also know where he lives/lived. And we now know that he not only has a lawyer, but an accountant too.

Martin Kamotho acquired a lawyer and an accountant because a number of Kenyans were getting worried that the media and several brands were taking advantage of his rise to fame. The media and the brands, these Kenyans reasoned, could have been using the brand githeri man without due compensation to Martin Kimotho. Interestingly though, no Kenyan seem to have been worried about the violation of Mr. Kamotho’s privacy.

Martin Kamotho, judging by his humble home before he rose to his current status, was a private man who lived a carefree life not caring what others thought about him. He paid no damn attention to his public appearances, utterances, walking styles, or eating habits – until some damn Kenyan decided to violate his privacy – even though that violation happened in a public place.

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If privacy is such an important right, why hasn’t anyone asked for the person who took the photo of githeri man to be found and prosecuted? Did the person ask the githeri man for the permission to upload the photo on social media? No. No because when githeri man was interviewed in his house, he said that he was surprised to see his picture photoshopped in the pictures of public figures such as Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Donald Trump and many others.

The experience of githeri man tells me only one thing, that we should stop going yada yada about privacy.

Not long ago a certain lady caused public uproar over violation of privacy when a certain customer care representative took her number without asking, then sent his picture to her asking if she could go out with him. Instead of this lady resolving the so called privacy violation privately, he decided to shame that customer care representative publicly on social media. If I was asked, it was the lady who actually violated the privacy of the customer care representative.

The point is, there have been cries over privacy violations whenever telecommunication and Internet companies collect so called privacy data for targeted marketing. These privacy data that mostly contain information about users’ age, location, and interests, are always anonymised then sold to marketers to generate ads that would target users of particular ages, living in certain places, and sharing particular interests. The telecommunication and Internet companies are always demonised for collecting user information, yet no one seem to mind that those of us who love githeri are now being targeted with all manner of ads through the infamous githeri man.

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Privacy, as has been demonstrated elsewhere, is an overrated nonsense especially in this era of social media and security surveillance. What every one should worry about is his or her physical, social and monetary security. Right now if one of the readers wants to get my phone numbers, email addresses, physical address locations, age, gender, core interests, or any other detail that may be considered private, he/she can do so through a simple click of a button. Those who are public-phobic have decided to completely detach themselves from the Internet and specifically social media, but the presence of security surveillance in the towns and cities they live in still make them vulnerable to being found by strangers. Githeri man for instance, probably had no idea what the Internet, Facebook and Twitter were before he trended on August the 8th.

So, next time someone wants to take a photo of you in public places, you shouldn’t go yada yada about personal privacy. You never know, that photo may actually make you a celebrity overnight.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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