Political poker, hot air, hustlers and dynasties: That was 2022

Former president Uhuru Kenyatta and President William Ruto during Ruto's swearing-in ceremony at Kasarani. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Like most years, 2022 was a mixed bag of fortunes for most Kenyans.

We retired a former president, elected a new one and lost a former one to eternal sleep.

We celebrated a peaceful handover of power and mocked former president Uhuru Kenyatta when his anointed political successor was walloped in the August 9 elections. We mocked William Ruto when he was humiliated in the run-up to the last election then celebrated his hand-won and surprising victory in the polls.

It was the year that the supposed holloi polloi (hustlers) triumphed over the "dynasties". For the first time since Nairobi Municipal Council meter leader Johnson Kamau Ngengi (later Jomo Kenyatta) was dispatched to Europe by the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) to push for lost African land in 1929, a Kenyatta will not be anywhere near the national political table - at least not with an elected mandate. We had defections across political camps and then other defections and re-defections in an interesting political season that buried some dreams and paved some political careers.


Some political gambles such as that by Alfred Mutua, Musalia Mudavadi, Justin Muturi and Moses Wetangula paid off handsomely. Yet others by such political veterans as Kalonzo Musyoka, Charity Ngilu, Kiraitu Murungi and Lee Kinyanjui failed spectacularly and devastated their political careers.

There was also the little matter of the national economy and a promise to victorious hustlers which failed to translate into instant redemption.

On April 21, the nation lost one of its former longest-serving politicians and third president Mwai Kibaki. A quiet and charming gentleman who was also a brilliant economist, his death marked the end of an era for politicians who made their debut in the immediate pre-independence days and went on to serve in top positions in the independence government.

Former president Mwai Kibaki died on April 21, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Indeed, Kibaki who had been appointed a cabinet minister in 1966 aged 35 and Finance Minister in 1969 went on to serve the first and second governments including becoming Vice President for Daniel Arap Moi until 1988.

Then his political life metamorphosed into the opposition benches where he rose to be Leader of the Opposition and succeeded in taking the helm in 2002 at his third stab on the presidency.

He served his two terms despite a midterm scare of a disputed reelection victory in 2007 and had to share government with this rival in a Nusu Mkate arrangement. His story was largely the story of independence Kenya until he breathed his last and was buried at his native Othaya home.

Then there was a change of government at the national government in a surprising transition election after Uhuru Kenyatta served his 10 years.

After a few years of investing in humiliating his deputy and giving his blessings to handshake partner Raila Odinga, the Uhuru had his humbling moment with his candidate failing to click with Kenyans and losing in another photo finish that has characterized the past four presidential elections in the country.

Fifth stab at the presidency

It had happened in the disputed 2007 elections, replicated by the 2013 and 2017 votes.

The parties in the original preelection cast of the Azimio la Umoja coalition had emerged as the better and bigger side in parliament from the elections but after the courts confirmed Kenya Kwanza as the winner of the presidential vote, things moved on and it was the latter that would be confirmed as Majority Party in National Assembly after it garnered the support of all independents and a few defectors from the other side.

As for Raila Odinga, it was the year when his fifth stab at the presidency – described by many as his best attempt – became yet another unsuccessful bid to take national leadership.

It was also another year in which his legal challenge to the presidential results was trashed by the Supreme Court sitting as the petition’s court.

Raila yet again like in 2013 differed with the verdict but accepted the ruling in which Kenyans will remember the harsh but flowery language which the Supreme Court used to trash the legal attempt to annul the presidential vote.

The seven-judge bench concluded that some of the logs produced as evidence in the presidential election petition were not admissible in court. 

Remember Jose Carmago?

"A review of some of the logs produced as evidence of staging shows that they were either from the 2017 Presidential election or they were outright forgeries."

There were also other notable phrases and adjectives. An attempt by Azimio side to show how Venezuelan national Jose Carmago had aided in the interference of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) servers was described as “hot air” and leading the court into a ‘Wild Goose Chase.’

The court also used “Red herring” - a clue or piece of information which is or is intended to be misleading or distracting. 

Also read

On whether there were discrepancies between votes casts for presidential candidates and other elective positions, the Supreme Court ruled that 'not a single piece of evidence” was provided to show ballot staffing and hence dismissed the issue. 

The court also adopted the flowery language and ruled that no proof of ballot stuffing was adduced by the Azimio side.

"He who alleges fraud must show proof. Allegations of ballot stuffing were only unproven hypotheses. Fraud is a serious offence and must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt."

It was also the second time that the nation witnessed a hostile handover since the 2002 change of baton between the second president Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki. At the inauguration of William Ruto as president at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on September 13; the outgoing president stuck a lonely presence.

President William Ruto during the 59th Jamuhuri Day Celebrations at Nyayo National Stadium. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

None of his top political allies and technocrats was present. Matters were not made better by that the fact outgoing president only congratulated his successor on the eve of the handover.

Yet he still pronounced that "he would hand over power smiling but Raila was still his president."

There was some subtle attack on the outgoing regime in the new president’s inauguration speech and a pronouncement of some policy reversals. Incoming Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua grumbled openly about his previous humiliation.

The economy hit Kenyans hard in 2022. Prices of essential commodities such as maize flour, soap and cooking oil hit an all-time high such that to cushion political allies, the Uhuru government had to announce subsidies to stabilize the prices.


There were also fertiliser and petroleum with a price rise fueled by the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Capitalised on by Kenya Kwanza during the campaigns as signs and symptoms of bad governance, it was surprising that one of the new government’s first actions was to remove the oil and maize flour subsidies that drove prices right through the roof.

At the start of the year, on January 2, Sh113.1459 had exchanged for one US$ and by last Thursday Sh123.3918 were exchanged for one US dollar. There was also a revelation by the Kenya Kwanza government on how broke the nation was and an announcement of ministerial budgetary cuts of Sh300 million plus a freeze of implementation of any new projects.

Hard times

As for financially squeezed Kenyans, this was one of the hardest years. On top of spiralling redundancies across the economy, ordinary Kenyans had to grapple with a four-term school year as the nation struggled to reset from the Covid-19 disruptions of the last few years.

Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations continued right up to the eve of Christmas, a first since the 8-4-4 system started in the late 1980s.

There was also the Grade Six assessments which were the third national evaluations running alongside the two annual national examination rituals.

Talking of education systems, Kenyans breathed a sigh of relief right at the end of the year when the Kenya Kwanza government outlawed the earlier controversial intention by the former regime to send Year Seven children under the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) to Junior Secondary School (JSS) domiciled in secondary schools.

After a year of investment in CBC classrooms in secondary schools and preparation of a double intake in January, the government decided to keep JSS in the existing primary schools to enable adequate preparations.

Finally, there was a complete change in the top government echelons. For the first time, the new government decided to cast aside all the Principal Secretaries (PS) asking a whole lot of the previous regime to take a fresh interview and casting 32 of the 39 former holders for new faces.


It was also the year the nation bid goodbyes to a lot of the first governors elected into office and who won a second term in 2017 after they had served their constitutional limit. Devolution is now a decade old and the first lot of governors provide an interesting barometer on how we have fared.

They fared differently in 2022. Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) cast their lots in KKA and are now in the Ruto cabinet. Josephat Nanok who was also in this category became Deputy State House Controller, Samuel Tunai (Narok) and Okoth Obado were in this category too and still waiting. For Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and Ali Roba, the calculations were on spot but through a different route of seeking the local senatorial seat.

Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Martin Wambora (Embu), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Sospeter Ojamong (Busia) and Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa) were not as lucky and could be some of the famous orphans of Raila Odinga failed bid.

Back to the economy, for the first time, Kenyans can borrow directly from government coffers. The Hustlers Fund, a Sh50 billion public capitalized scheme enables literary any Kenyan with a registered mobile money wallet to borrow from the comfort of their locations and pay back within two weeks.

Despite all the hardships, at least for once, anyone could treat themselves for Christmas this year!

Expansion of SGR line has numerous strategic advantages for Kenya
Premium Why the Finance Bill will hurt fledgling middle class the most
Premium Open skies: Why Africa could take off on liberalised aviation
Premium Ruto fires new warning to KRA staff over tax evasion syndicate