Wasn't me: Designer Brian Babu distances himself from Kenya's Olympics kit

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Kenya's ceremonial kits for Paris Olympics.

Like a broken record, the Olympic season is here and Kenyans are up in arms over the ceremonial kits presented by Sports CS Ababu Namwamba. The kits have caused a furore, with netizens quickly mentioning some of the people involved: Rosemary Runyenje and Georgia Fernandes.

Media personality James Smart was among the first to register his concerns.

"While we are very busy repairing the Kenyan Image, some saboteurs, enemies of the people did this. What in the hideousness is this? Who’s responsible?” he posted on X.

The uproar led to the Olympics' media team deleting a tweet that showed the designers involved and clarifying that the kits would only be for ceremonial purposes, which only added fuel to the already flaming situation.

In its defence, the government posted that the President had also given a thumbs-up to the designers of the kit. "The President also acknowledged the creative contributions of four young Kenyans: Rosemary J.W Runyenje, Georgia Fernandes, Claire Akinyi Okre, and Vincent Okumu Asembo, who designed the ceremonial kits for Team Kenya,” posted the Ministry on X.

The president noted that this initiative was part of the government’s BETA vision, aimed at igniting the sports apparel value chain in Kenya, creating jobs for young people, and contributing to the economy.

Fashion designer Brian Babu took to social media to distance himself from the matter, saying he took an offer as a consultant to help the ministry sort out submissions. “Over a few weeks, we deliberated as a panel and settled on 20 options which we then forwarded to the ministry. These options were then presented to a wider pool of stakeholders including media and athletes, and out of these, 10 options were settled upon,” he posted.

A dummy cheque presented to Georgia Fernandes by CS Ababu Namwamba and Paul Tergat.

Babu went on to state that after giving their thoughts on the matter, they tried to do follow-ups, which were ignored until they later saw that the winner had been decided. “It is important to note that we did not design, style, or handle production of the looks you see circulating online. We only did the initial shortlist,” he added.

He further intimated that sampling was not done and the clothes were handled in just three days, regretting his participation and saying he had learned his lesson. “Since it is a common question, the only remuneration I received was a total of Sh30,000. Not per session. Total,” he stated.

Fashionista Vinie O also confirmed the amount received, saying that it was only right that they pay him for his time. “NOCK and Ministry put together a committee and focus group to share their views on various designs that were submitted. This whole group consisted of representatives of Kenyan Athletes, Journalists, PR folks, Govt Officials, Fashion Designers, etc. Each was given a chance and a questionnaire to give reviews, and they did, and this document, I believe, was given to the Minister (CS),” he posted.

According to Vinie, who fancies himself as Captain, Exuberant Gentleman, he submitted his thoughts on the kits presented, adding the buck stopped with CS Ababu Namwamba. “Even you, knowing how Gava operates, do you think I can make such a monumental decision on my own? As who? Maoni nilipeana zangu. I believe we should dress and look good. Final decision lays with the CS of Sports. That's his mandate. Views alipewa...Kila mtu alipeana,” he posted.

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