What was to be a simple photoshoot session for four-year-old Joy Jebiwott to kill boredom now that schools are closed has turned to the be an internet craze in Kenya and beyond.
Amazing photos of the charming young girl donned in her traditional Kalenjin regalia and in tight grasp of a coca-cola drink to quench her thirst has taken the internet by storm.
Her photos have tonnes of likes across the world, which is no mean feat to her amateur photographer cousin, Douglas Lagat who took the photos to kill time.
Lagat explained that her cousin had just visited the village from Eldama Ravine where she lives with her parents and the thought of taking a few photos hit him.
“Joy had visited the village from Eldama Ravine town where she lives with her family when I decided to do some photo-shoots to keep busy. After a while, Joy looked tired and we promised her a gift, which happened to be a soda,” Lagat told the Standard.
Lagat said he was struck by her charm once she donned the traditional regalia and he saw her as an ambassador of their culture.
Lagat whose second calling besides his Finance degree is photography, took Jebiwott to Kamalanget village where he took the photos and met other members of Savannah Crew whose main agenda is to expose the Kalenjin culture.
What followed was another journey to “stardom” for young Jebiwott who was oblivious of all that was happening and that had become the “Coca-Cola girl”
Her father, Jacob Keror said he received one of the photos and told himself “this is good” but he was in for more.
“The next thing I got was her photo, which I thought was lovely. Then a friend called to congratulate me, saying he had spotted the photos online,” Keror recounted.
Keror said he was struck by the famed that her daughter had earned and even asked that the photos be pulled down.
“At first I was worried for my little girl and wanted the photos pulled down, but many people were calling to relay positive feedback. We had to accept that Joy was unique,” he said.
Jebiwotts mother, Mercy Kochei, said that her daughter is gifted and when she saw the photos, she knew it was another dawn for her.
“I was stunned but not surprised because Joy is outgoing. We are happy that she is learning her culture and loves it,” she said.
Her viral photos got the attention of the global soft drinks company that had been under pressure to pick Jebiwott as one of the comapny’s ambassadors.
In a statement, Coca-cola noted that while the photos are astounding, it does not use any images for children under the age of 12 years for advertisement of its products.