Pictures of the National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga and a Kenyan woman based in Tanzania, Sasha Mbote, caused quite a stir on social media, when they were shared on the platforms Facebook and Twitter.
The pictures show Mr Odinga and Ms Mbote seated on what looks like a beach bed and Mr Odinga’s left arm crossing over Ms Mbote’s neck and settling on her shoulder. Mr Odinga, in that photo, has no shoes on.
In yet another picture taken with the subjects on their feet, Ms Mbote crosses her right arm across Mr Odinga’s back and Mr Odinga’s left arm crosses over her neck and settles on her shoulder.
The pictures sparked speculations online, with social media users reading “more than what can be seen on the pictures”.
Mr Odinga’s friend-cum-Suna East MP, Junet Mohamed, dimmissed some of those speculations as “pure nonsense.”
Ms Mbote has now come out to set the record straight, saying she is receiving a lot of phone calls, text messages and WhatsApp messages from people known to her across the world, castigating her for getting “too close for comfort” to a respectable public figure, who is married.
In an audio narration sent to eDaily, Ms Mbote said: “For once I feel embarrassed to be a Kenyan. They read too much into a very innocent situation.”
Below is her chronological account on what transpired when she met Mr Odinga recently in Zanzibar:
“I see that I am trending, and trending for the wrong reasons. Anyway, I am a strong woman. I have been through a lot in my life. So, I am used to such things. Hazinishtuangi.
“Though I am shocked beyond words and this is something that we should all worry about because we are at a very bad place as a nation when it comes to politics.
“I am going to explain myself a little bit, though I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation. I just want to tell you how I met Raila Odinga.
“I usually go to Park Hyatt Hotel in Zanzibar when I have a lot of work to do coz I like having my evening solitude moments as I work. I just carried my laptop, went there to work. I was to have a meeting at a different spot. I left for the meeting. I did not even know that Raila Odinga had booked himself into that hotel.
“When my meeting had ended, I went to have a drink. As I stood up to go to the washrooms, I saw some people behind me and I could hear them talk. I saw Raila Odinga, who was in the group. I just said: ‘Haya, Baba hi!’ He stood up and gave me a hug and he was like: ‘Are you from Kenya?’ I said: ‘Of course, where else would I be from, given I called you by your moniker ‘Baba’?’
“He said: ‘Wow, what are you doing here?’ I said: ‘I work here, running a bed and breakfast and I just started my own signature spa called Sasha Spice Zanzibar. It has not been an easy journey.’ I told him we still do not have all the East African Community rights and all that. He was like: ‘Yeah, we are really working hard to ensure things work’. I said: ‘Yeah, I can see things are working; the nonresidents’ work permit has dropped from 3000 US dollars to 500 US dollars for Kenyans’.
“He was like: ‘Okay, you can join us.’ So, I went and joined them. He was with his friends and some people from… anyway, I am not going to say a lot, but he was with his friends. We sat there and started talking, and he was like: ‘Okay, what are you having?’ He told the waiter: ‘Give her whatever she wants to drink or eat, the bill will be on me’. I only took one drink and then excused myself, telling them: ‘Tomorrow in the morning I will be having a meeting. I will be traveling, so I will have to leave you guys’, and I went. And that was it!
“And before I forget, I asked Raila – before leaving –, ‘Can I post these pictures?’, he said: ‘Yeah, you can post, but then his public image team told me to wait till the next day to post the pictures.
“I obliged and posted the pictures the following morning – innocently. Just like how I post pictures with the celebrities and public figures that I often meet. Some of them include: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, Davido, retired President Daniel Moi. Because I am used to meeting such prominent people, because of being in the spa industry, posting pictures of me and them became normal. It was not a big deal for me when I posted pictures with Raila Odinga.
“How comes a picture I took with Davido in Zanzibar the other day did not cause a stir like the one I took with Mr Odinga? And the Davido photo was also taken at night, just like the one I took with Mr Odinga?
“I am shocked. It was such an embarrassment for me as a Kenyan.
“I am a very humble person, who was raised in a Christian home. I have never tried to sleep with a man for money.”