Some of the greatest hoaxes carried out in Kenya.
Outside of Kenya, the one I found funniest was from Britain where a 3 minute BBC documentary on its much respected Panorama programme showing people harvesting spaghetti in Switzerland fooled millions of people. Some of them even called asking where they can get spaghetti trees.
Makmende in Parliament- 2010
Kenya’s National Assembly had to suspend debate on April 2010 due to the arrival of Kenya’s first viral superhero: Makmende.
Word was spread by a disgruntled lobbyist for the draft constitution amendments that Makmende was seated in the public gallery.
MPs abandoned talks to rush there and catch a glimpse of the enigmatic hero.
Kencom Limited- 2004
On April Fool’s week in 2004, The East African Standard’s Sunday paper printed an advert profiling a new mobile phone provider with the most advanced phone in the market.
Thousands of naïve Kenyans were trolled with an ad that spoke of a phone that would come with inbuilt scratch cards, internet, video cameras and TV screens. And it would charge on Sh4 a minute.
The first 3000 people to submit a coupon were promised a free phone. Apparently even high ranking politicians and military officials fell for this.
Eric Awori- 1985
Awori claimed he had driven 685km from Mombasa to Rongai (the Kenyan one in Nakuru) via Nairobi in reverse.
Car companies fell for it by the droves when the prankster said he would do it again in a 7-tonne lorry.
On Owaahh it is documented that DT Dobie had promised fuel and Mercedes Benz had promised a lorry.
He was eventually caught when he tried the same thing in New Zealand.
Remember how Kenyan government used to lack foresight? Forget I asked that. In the 90s, following an economic slump, the government decided to offer incentives to local companies willing to export.
Part of the incentives included Sh10370 for every Sh2074 exported.
Kamlesh Pattni started a fake company to cash in on this. Originally he smuggled gold from Congo to show to the government so as to get his bonus. He ended up getting a 35% increase instead of 20% for his minerals exports.
Eventually the Kenya treasury eventually realised that they were $600 million short. I’m not sure how that case ended up being “resolved”.
Gilbert Deya- 1999-2004
Together with his wife, Eddah Odero- this charlatan claimed to have gotten 12 “miracle babies”. The whole thing was even more unbelievable because Eddah was post-menopausal.
DNA tests showed that the children couldn’t have been theirs but they attempted to circumvent that by claiming the DNA of the children “belonged to God”.
One of their partners eventually confessed that the whole charade was part of a child trafficking ring.