2018 saw an interesting crop of Kenyans emerge from obscurity to inspire headlines, songs, online challenges, memes and more.
Here are just 10 previously unknown Kenyans who shot to national fame in 2018 for various reasons.
As details emerged on the multi-billion National Youth Service (NYS) graft scandal, one particular name remained on the lips of Kenyans; Ann Ngirita.
The stylish 30-year-old was accused of supplying ‘air’ to the NYS through briefcase companies in a well-orchestrated corruption scheme.
Gracious Amani, a Primary School pupil, went viral this year with her cover of Alicia Keys’ hit Girl on Fire.
Her incredible vocals left many across the world in awe, including Alicia Keys herself.
She went on to sign a record contract as she plans to establish herself as a leading Kenyan artist.
Wazir Chacha captured national attention after it was alleged that he had managed to get close to several female lawmakers and used their identities to defraud other MPs and government officials.
Among the MPs at the centre of the scandal was Murang’a Women Representative Sabina Chege who denied ever having met Chacha.
Former Gem MP Jakoyo Midowo was among those who fell prey to the scheme, sending money to university students thinking it was Chege.
Joe ‘Jowie’ Irungu
Kenyans first got to know of Joseph Irungu as a Private Security contractor and Citizen TV news anchor Jacque Maribe’s fiancee.
In a strange turn of events, however, Irungu later became the prime suspect in the murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani at her Kilimani apartment.
Maribe was also charged with the murder alongside Irungu but was freed on bail.
After he was allegedly seen leaving Monica’s apartment, Irungu went on to meet Maribe and somehow sustained a gunshot wound to his chest according to his account of events.
Tom Mako alias Junior
Tom Mako alias Junior, 27, gained fame among Kenyans after marrying two women in one colorful ceremony in Kajiado.
Mako later explained to media outlets that he was inspired by his father who, when coming home drunk, had a choice on where to sleep.
“Kama babangu vile nilikuwa namuona anakuja akiwa mlevi, ama akiwa kule ametoka anafikiria mahali ataenda. Hata mimi huwa nakuja nikifikiria nitaenda wapi, ama jana nilikuwa wapi, (I used to see my father coming home drunk, he had a choice of which wife to go to, I also want to come home with a similar choice),” he stated.
Aggie the Queen
Her incredible dance moves in Sauti Sol and Nyashinki’s video Short n Sweet saw professional dancer Aggie gain fans from Kenya and beyond.
Her display and dance moves in the video, along with the iconic jumpsuit she wore, inspired artwork, dance videos, memes and more.
Cecilia Wangare (Shosh Sounds)
Images of 78-year-old Cecilia Wangare busy at work fixing sound systems at her shop left many Kenyans inspired and challenged.
Her appearance on NTV’s The Trend served to increase her popularity as she made it clear to host Amina Abdi that she would dispense of all her wisdom before leaving the show as she was the one invited.
Grandma minced no words after Amina informed her of time constraints that would have seen the interview cut short.
Ethic (Lamba Lolo Crew)
As the Sheng (slang) phrase Lamba Lolo gained serious popularity among Kenyans, four young artists released one of the most unlikely hits in recent years.
The extremely low-budget video for Ethic’s break-out single Lamba Lolo has so far garnered close to 3 million views on Youtube, going viral among Kenyans soon after its release.
Rekles, Swat, Seska and Zilla known collectively as Ethic went on to release more hits that include Position and Saba.
Nominated MCA Mary Njambi (Krimino)
Members of the Nairobi County Assembly earlier this year stormed the office of Speaker Beatrice Elachi soon after passing an impeachment motion against her.
At the forefront was Nominated MCA Mary Njambi captured on video leading the ward representatives into Elachi’s office.
After a substance was apparently sprayed causing the MCAs to start shedding tears, Njambi famously accused Elachi of ‘Krimino’ (criminal) behaviour, a phrase that went viral.
Fredrick Sagwe Onyancha (NHIF Receptionist)
NHIF Customer Care officer Fredrick Onyancha’s image was splashed on newspaper front-pages disclosing that he had allegedly acquired eight houses worth Kshs160 million over four years as well as several top of the range vehicles.
Reports tied his new-found wealth to his joining the National Health Insurance Fund’s (NHIF) tender evaluation committee responsible for awarding multi-million tenders.
DPP Noordin Haji
Haji emerged in 2018 as the face of the renewed war against corruption, becoming a household name against Kenyans as he went after top suspects in major scandals with zeal.
Sharon Otieno, a student at Rongo University, was found murdered in a forest in Migori County while she was pregnant.
The murder was linked to Migori Governor Okoth Obado and his aides who are currently facing murder charges.
Obado admitted to have been in an affair with Ms Otieno but denied having anything to do with her murder.
Before the gruesome murder in her Kilimani apartment, Monica Kimani was a successful business woman with ties to South Sudan.
She was found in her bathtub with her throat slit open.
Joseph Irungu and Jacque Maribe remain on trial for the murder.
Leila Mohammed’s stunning rendition of Wimbo wa Historia originally by Enock Ondego saw her win the hearts of many.
She was a standard eight pupil at St. Teresa’s Girls Primary School and sat for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in November 2018.
The rendition saw her perform before President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kakamega.
Michael Oyamo was Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s Personal Assistant who now finds himself at the centre of a disturbing murder case.
Oyamo is accused of luring pregnant Rongo University student Sharon Otieno into a trap that led to her gruesome killing in Kodera forest.
He is charged with the murder alongside others including Obado himself.