Madaraka Day snob of William Ruto is all what Kenyans could remember

Deputy President William Ruto walks past President Uhuru Kenyatta to make his remarks during National Prayer Day at Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on May 26, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The comportment of President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, on the 59th Madaraka Day reminds us of Charles Dickens’s famous words in the classic Great Expectations. The 19th Century literary genius wrote, “In the little world in which children live, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.” 

People in power do well to know that we are all children. We remain children, no matter how old we live to be. Every extreme act, good or bad, wakes up the child in us. There has been a massive sense of injustice in the public spats between President Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto. They wake up the child.

For, howsoever you look at it, there would be no President Uhuru Kenyatta without William Ruto. We say here in Emanyulia, no matter how badly a friend wrongs you, think even of the littlest good he did for you. Find space in your heart to forgive him. 

Ruto made Uhuru the president of Kenya. By the same token, he made Margaret Kenyatta the First Lady. For that alone, the Kenyatta’s owe him courtesy in public. It matters not that it is only pretended courtesy. They also owe Kenyans courtesy. 

Look at this, the First Lady walks snootily past the deputy president, who is standing clearly waiting to acknowledge her. She shakes hands with the visiting first couple from Sierra Leone. She walks past the deputy president again, to take her seat. The act is repeated by the president.

But he takes the disdain a notch higher. His Madaraka Day address is a tirade against Ruto, instead of the dignified national address it should be. The rest of the sorry details will be recorded and stored in the archives that President Kenyatta has built along Langata road. 

Two major lessons from Dickens, however. The child in each one of us never dies, especially the oppressed child. Each time we witness injustice by a powerful person, the child in us wakes up. It automatically empathises and sympathises with the underdog.

Psychologists like Sigmund Freud have told us that conduct like that of Kenya’s first couple subconsciously wakes up those of us who were mistreated as children. We see the powerful man in the image of the unjust characters who oppressed us. 

That is why the rest of the president’s Madaraka Day activities were a wasted effort. When everything else is forgotten and only anecdotes remain, history will remember the first couple’s behaviour at this year’s Madaraka Day more than anything else they ever did. They risk being styled in the docket of snobbery and bluster, with poor judgement of sense of occasion and common decency.  

In the short term, significant numbers will want to put in even a feeble blow for Ruto. As Dickens explains, the injustice done to the child may be very small, such as refusing to shake his offered hand. Yet, the child is small, and its world is small.” A little injustice looks so huge.  

Let me repeat, Ruto made Uhuru the president of Kenya.  That is why Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are falling over themselves to keep Kalonzo Musyoka in the Azimio-One Kenya Alliance. It’s why they are selling Martha Karua very hard – including in the Madaraka Day State address.

The voter who feels the pinch with Ruto will not find a President Kenyatta to hit back at. For, he is going away in less than ten weeks from now. But they will find the next thing in the way – the Raila Odinga-Martha Karua Project. The project will bite the bullet.

For Margaret Kenyatta, you have failed us, Mum. You failed to take your lesson from the great women of the Bible, such as Abigail, Ruth, Esther and Bathsheba. You elected, instead, to take your place close to Princess Jezebel, the Phoenician who became Queen when she married the landed magnate called King Ahab.

You failed to have a moderating effect on our president. History will remember you that way, after you leave State House in the next ten weeks. It is thus recorded.

 Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor.