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President Ruto's speechwriters should really go back to the drawing board

President William Ruto during Mashujaa Day fete at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on October 20 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

During the Mashujaa Day celebrations, President William Ruto delivered a one-hour-and-ten-minute speech at Uhuru Gardens. As a political commentator, I had the opportunity to interact with some Kenyans and hear their views.

Majority said the speech was too long. Kenyans are not used to listening to such long speeches and that is why his audience apparently got bored halfway.

As a result, the key policy issues he had raised seemed to have evaporated from their minds. The president took a lot of time to explain and reiterate one issue. This is while bearing much of what he said bordered on policy matters. He should have left it to technocrats to do more explanations.

Besides, the entire speech was in English and at no time did he switch to Kiswahili. Some of the people who attended this event, particularly hustlers and elderly people, do not understand English.

Therefore, they expected the president to give a summary of his speech in Kiswahili. This did not happen. The speechwriters seemed to have failed to bring that to his attention.

But those I spoke to said Ruto is not to blame. Instead, his speechwriters should bear the burden.

This is the same mistake that the speechwriters of former President Uhuru Kenyatta used to make, particularly towards the tail-end of his administration. Ruto’s speechwriters should have learnt a lesson from this.

The office of the speechwriter is bankrolled by taxpayers. So, the wish of Kenyans is to see them doing a professional job.

Ruto is an eloquent speaker and his speechwriters should not be the ones letting him down.

The president is the most powerful public figure and carries the citizens’ hopes and aspirations.

Strategic communication is one of the key pillars we should embrace to help him discharge his constitutional mandate. The role of the speechwriter cannot therefore be underrated.