Old image of hawker’s broken eggs falsely linked to boycott call in Kenya

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Online posts in Kenya are sharing an image of a vendor trying to salvage dozens of eggs from the ground alongside claims that they were destroyed by supporters of former presidential candidate Raila Odinga in Kisumu County. The posts linked the incident to Odinga’s announcement at a political rally that opposition backers should boycott certain goods including eggs as part of a nationwide protest against President William Ruto. But the claim is false; a reverse image search shows the image has been on the internet since 2020.

On March 9, 2023, Odinga launched mass action to highlight alleged fraud in the 2022 elections, the high cost of living, and electoral reforms, among other issues.

Ruto was given 14 days to respond to the list of demands from Odinga’s party, which lapsed.

A day later Odinga held a political rally in western Kenya where he told his supporters that his party would release a list of companies and products including eggs to be boycotted.

Eggs were among the items because Ruto, who was Odinga’s main rival in the last year’s polls, operates a multi-million shilling poultry farm.

On March 11, 2023, Miguna Miguna, Odinga’s former aide but now a fierce critic of his, tweeted the image of a vendor trying to rescue eggs that had fallen to the ground from the wheelbarrow they were being transported in.

“This is a Luo woman struggling to sell eggs and put food on the table for her children. But conman Raila Odinga in his wisdom ordered his goons to destroy all her eggs in Kisumu because Raila has ordered Luos not to eat eggs!” Miguna tweeted.

A screenshot of the false tweet, taken on March 13, 2023

A similar claim was shared on Facebook (see here and here) and Twitter identifying the vendor as a man named Justin Otieno. A search of the name online did not bring up any relevant results.

It was also repeated on this TikTok video viewed more than 30,000 times.

However, the claims made about this image are false.

Old image

A reverse image search shows the photo has been on the internet since 2020, although the context is unclear.

For instance, on January 22, 2020, this Twitter user published the picture in a reply to a tweet by Reuters news agency but provided no explanation of what it showed.

On May 12, 2021, the same image was used on Nairaland, Nigeria’s biggest online forum, during a discussion about the prices of eggs.

In the same year, the image was used as a meme here and here.

While the exact location of the image is not apparent, a box featured in the photo has the logo of Nigerian cosmetic company Imperio International Limited, a possible indication it may have been taken in the west African country.

A screenshot showing the Imperio logo on the box, left, and the company’s website

However, it is clear that the image predates calls for a boycott of eggs in Kenya.

Mass action

The opposition has been piling pressure on Ruto’s government, with Odinga saying there will be a major protest in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on March 20, 2023.

The veteran politician has made threats of civil disobedience and called for a boycott of certain products and services from specific companies – which he believes are benefiting from an “illegitimate regime”.

Boycotts are not new in Kenya; in 2018 after Odinga lost the election to former president Uhuru Kenyatta, he led protests that saw his supporters shun certain companies.

Kenya elections 2022