Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, in his fifth bid for the Presidency in 2022, has had a number of viral moments on the campaign trail, and not necessarily due to his proposals.
His style, and sneakers in particular, have caught the attention of Kenyans online on a number of occasions.
The man responsible – young sneaker vendor and social media influencer as Nairobi West Niccur, real name Abdi Ali, on April Fool’s Day announced his bid for the Nairobi West MCA seat.
He is supporting Odinga’s presidential bid and the Azimio la Umoja Coalition. Ali is also rallying youth to support Odinga, with the mantra ‘Vijanaa na Baba’. Hoping that his association with Odinga aids his bid, his campaign posters included in-set photos of him fitting the Azimio presidential candidate.
In April 2021, after receiving a pair of sneakers from Ali at his Karen home, Odinga wrote: “No its not a goat, but these young gentlemen thought it would be nice for me to have a fresh pair of sneakers! We chatted, Ali opened his fast & a generally good evening with good company. Hongera boys!”
Ali has supplied Odinga with shoes on multiple occasions. In October 2021 the ODM leader also shared photos of himself with Ali after trying on some new sneakers.
Ali represents countless young business owners in Kenya who have used social media, particularly Instagram, as the biggest driver of their sales. In 2022, customers aren’t just buying from online businesses, they’re buying into social media personalities and online brands.
While Ali’s campaign may be little more than a cheeky April fool’s joke, a long list of social media influencers, comedians and media personalities have thrown their hats into the political ring.
Other prominent names such as Jalang’o and MC Jessy are eyeing the Lang’ata and South Imenti parliamentary seats on ODM and UDA tickets respectively.
It remains to be seen how effectively they will be able to convert followers, likes and social media support to votes at the ballot. The youth vote is also being battled for by all major contenders; with DP William Ruto and Odinga both offering incentives for the youth in their economic proposals.