“Ilikua fitina and a bit personal!” Linda Okello speaks about her transfer from Nairobi to Molo and leaving the police service.
In 2014, Linda Okello was thrust into the spotlight, not by her own choosing, but by an innocuous photograph taken during her duties as a traffic police officer. Little did she know that this single image would turn her life upside down, making her one of the most searched individuals on Google and ultimately leading to her departure from the Kenyan police force.
Now residing in the United States and working as a behavior therapist, Linda Okello reflects on her journey from traffic cop to an international symbol of unintended fame.
She recounts her initial career aspirations, admitting that being a police officer was not her dream job; her heart had been set on becoming an air hostess.
However, fate had other plans for her, and she grew to love her role as a police officer during her 16 years of service.
The viral photograph in question was taken on a day when Linda was on duty, coordinating the Safari Rally event while on a phone call with her superior. She was oblivious to the image being captured, but when she eventually learned of it, she was overwhelmed by the attention it garnered.
The photo made her one of the most sought-after personalities, not just on the internet but also within her own police department.
Accusations were hurled her way, suggesting that she was inappropriately dressed for her role. Her bosses called her in for questioning, suspecting that she had violated the police code of conduct.
After a thorough investigation, it was concluded that her attire was indeed suitable for her position.
Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, the aftermath of the photo had lasting effect on Linda’s career. She was transferred to Molo, a move she accepted with grace as part of her professional duty. However, her personal information was leaked, and her fame followed her wherever she went. She recalls feeling let down, particularly by fellow women who could have supported her during this trying period.
Linda Okello’s ordeal didn’t go unnoticed by the legal system. In 2014, she filed a lawsuit against a local media house for publishing the photograph without her consent.
The court ruled in her favor, awarding her KSH 6.5 million in damages.
For Linda, this judgment was a form of justice, acknowledging the emotional suffering she endured and the impact on her career.
She was portrayed as a sex symbol, and people began to perceive her more as a socialite than a dedicated police officer. Linda felt that she was never given the chance to defend herself or explain the implications of the photograph.
The court’s verdict, in her eyes, rectified some of the injustice she had faced.
Linda Okello’s journey began in May 2003 when she joined the police force, initially serving in Kisii and later being promoted to the rank of corporal.