Exposed

In search of ‘chip publicity’, Millicent Omanga gets fried on social media

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Something is cooking at Bevalyne Kwamboka’s roadside chips business in Nairobi. The food cooking is popularly known as “chipo mwitu”, but this week it got a new ingredient and it became “chip publicity”.

That ingredient was politics. Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga delivered it through her team. It ignited the oven of controversy that saw talk become chip as Ms Kwamboka, a student trying hard to earn a shilling in the city, found a hot potato thrust in her hands.

It began rather simply. On September 30, Ms Kwamboka shared photos of her selling chips in a spot she has been using since mid-last year. “Come for chipo mwitu,” she wrote. Somehow, because of her dress that came across as short, she drew all manner of attention on Twitter.

Politicians love viral concepts, especially now that the 2022 elections are drawing near. Ms Omanga has plans for 2022, and so this chips seller going viral presented an opportunity for her to ketchup – sorry, catch up – on a viral conversation.

Ms Kwamboka, inspired by her new-found fame, decided to share more about her business. Images she shared showing rain disrupting her business plus a request for an umbrella attracted the attention of Ms Omanga.

In Ms Kwamboka’s words, aides of Ms Omanga arrived in a fuel guzzler, went with her and bought potatoes worth Sh350. Optics are an essential ingredient in politics. Ms Kwamboka claims the senator’s aides grabbed the bigger sack of potatoes that she had bought herself, leaving her the smaller sack they had bought.

It did not take more than 10 minutes after they left, Ms Kwamboka told Citizen Digital on Friday, before a post went up on Ms Omanga’s Twitter account. It read: “Bevalyne Kwamboka is now sorted. Umbrella, cash and stock to boost her hustle… Now let’s go eat those chips.”

“Cash”? Ms Kwamboka was puzzled by that claim as she had not received any. She had to ask an aide of the senator’s, who explained it is what they used to buy the potatoes.

Potatoes worth Sh350

Hitherto a lady with a relatively quiet life, now everyone was reaching out to Ms Kwamboka, for she must have received a “weighty” cash package. That is why, she said, she had to make a post clarifying that she had received no cash.

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“They only bought potatoes worth Sh350, came out of the vehicle with five umbrellas, took photos, returned them and gave out one and two aprons,” she said.

Not ready to be deep-fried by social media users for creating a false impression, Ms Omanga applied the most used instruction in the political cookbook – serve it back while hot. She said she was out of the country and that she sent her team to assist.

“I’m thus disturbed to learn that she has complained and rubbished the support she got through my office. I did my best under the circumstances and I’m sorry that I didn’t meet her expectations which appear to have been higher. In such situations the truth, honesty and facts are sacrificed at the altar of social media fame, blackmail and character assassination,” the senator wrote.

Ms Kwamboka said she simply wanted to clarify for her safety. “I never meant to be ungrateful .”

Ms Omanga often says that she made her first million in 2002 as a university student through the sale of bedsheets. Going through Ms Kwamboka’s Twitter account, where she markets everything from clothes to set-top boxes, you get the impression of a woman sparing no effort to make money, just like Ms Omanga back in the day. Might the Kenyatta University student have been launched on her path to her first million? It’s hard to tell for now.

Meanwhile, Twitter has been a full plate with the chip talk. Did Ms Omanga’s team pocket some of the money she wanted delivered to Ms Kwamboka or that was all the help she intended to give? There are lots of theories peddled on this, and a lot of kachumbari has been added to some accounts. Anyway, chipo mwitu and kachumbari is a match made under the flyover leading to heaven. BY DAILY NATION


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