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Ruto's tour of Mt Kenya and why he is unlikely to become 'Kikuyu king'

Macharia Munene
 President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua meet Mau Mau heroine Field Marshall Muthoni and the wife of General Stanley Mathenge at Sagana State Lodge, Nyeri. [PCS]

President William Ruto’s administration has had two political forces to deal with at the local and international levels.

These are, first, the highs of thrills and, second, the ‘lows’ of adversity, despair, and frustrations. When excited, his team engages in chest-thumping activities that question whether he thoroughly thinks issues through before making public pronouncements. When cornered, his ability to generate political energy puts him in a pre-election campaign mood.

The stimulant for that obsession with campaigning is Raila Odinga, the perennial political campaigner who, with his ‘saviour’ mentality, repeatedly rejects electoral defeats. Raila, finding a political niche in the social economic hardships, started mounting maandamano whose effect was to increase underdevelopment and still blame it on Dr Ruto.

To counter Raila’s exploitation of growing undercurrents of unhappiness in the Mountain, therefore, Ruto mounted a political ‘grand’ tour of the Mountain with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua as his tour guide.

Although Ruto is a hardworking man with enough brilliance to out-think political opponents, he repeatedly faltered so much that he gave opportunity to critics. He and Gachagua started badly on the inauguration day, casting doubt as to whether they knew what they wanted to do.

Mr Gachagua seemed poorly prepared for the occasion and went ballistic against a ‘defeated’ Uhuru. Although he later claimed he spoke the ‘truth’ to wazungu, what came through was a display of so much stately immaturity that visiting African heads of state reprimanded him for his inappropriate comments.

Ruto also made Kenya look confused as, after meeting Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, he reversed Kenya's policy on Western Sahara only to withdraw his Twitter policy statements after realising the diplomatic folly.

Besides the blunders of the inauguration day, the president developed inability to keep the promises that helped him to get elected.

His explanations miss the point that suffering is increasing for many who voted for him, and they blame him. While a few people have benefited from ‘appointments’ and ‘opportunities’ and are subsequently very defensive of what is happening, there is an undercurrent of unhappiness across the country.

 President William Ruto during a church service at Faith Evangelist Ministry, Karen, on August 13, 2023. [PCS, Standard]

The undercurrent is especially intense in ‘hustler-land’ and in the shrinking middle class. It leaves the people of the Mountain, who overwhelmingly voted for Ruto, in socio-political wilderness, looking for a leader to give them hope. There is none.

Although the pretenders to Mt Kenya's kingpinship are many, those offering themselves fail to convince because they do not address the essence of discontent.

The most prominent of them is  Gachagua who, in his desperation for recognition as a probable modern Karuri wa Gakure, has traits of having missed something about potential leaders being expected to have sense of 'verbal proportionality'. He, therefore, continues to confound with disproportionate utterances casting doubts as to whether he knows the spirit of the Mountain.

From the time of 'Iregi', people rejected the idea of kings and adopted a collegiate council governance system that periodically changes during 'Ituika'. He is like those Mount Kenya Foundation bosses who in 2022 dressed Raila and Ida as Mountain monarchs and expected the public to follow. In his enthusiasm during the ‘grand tour’, he decreed that Ruto is King of the Kikuyu and that crossing River Chania is evidence of anointing.

In doing so, Gachagua showed a lack of basic knowledge and proportional thinking. As of 1969, the year of oaths, deaths, and election, Chania symbolised divisiveness and friction in the Mountain rather than the anointing of anyone.

Then there is the unflattering picture of Mountain people eating rice at Sagana State Lodge, courtesy of Gachagua’s ‘king’; it was not endearing to Ruto, Gachagua, or self-respecting Mountain people.

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