Lieutenant-Colonel Damaris Agnetta of the Kenya Army enters the history books as Kenya’s second female Aide-de-Camp (ADC) after Colonel Rachel Nduta of the Kenya Air Force.
Agnetta’s appointment was announced on Tuesday, October 4 by President William Ruto’s senior communications aide Emmanuel Tallam.
Agnetta will assist Colonel Fabian Lengusuranga of the Kenya Army, who has succeeded Timothy Lekolool as President Ruto’s Aide-de-Camp.
Agnetta will, occasionally, stand in for Lengusuranga when the first ADC will either be on leave or off-duty.
In Kenya, as is the practice world-over, the president has the liberty to choose his or her Aide-de-Camp.
The serviceperson has to be a member of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).
Contrary to popular belief, the Aide-de-Camp is not a bodyguard or personal assistant to the Head of State.
Colonel Esther Wanjiku, the spokesperson of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), says the Aide-de-Camp is “a principal military officer serving the president”.
“The Aide-de-Camp’s roles include managing the president’s diary and liaising with his or her main security team,” Wanjiku told The Standard.
“The Defence Council can propose an Aide-de-Camp to the president, who has the last say on his preferred serviceman for the role,” she added.
The Assistant Aide-de-Camp, currently serving President Ruto, Damaris Agnetta was commissioned in 2003, and has been serving as the artillery officer. She has also served in the United Nations Military Observer Mission.
Second female ADC
Agnetta is succeeding Rachel Nduta of the Kenya Air Force, who was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and deployed to the Department of Defence Headquarters.
Being in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, Agnetta has five more ranks in the hierarchy to reach the summit of military leadership.
The five superior ranks are Colonel, Brigadier, Major-General, Lieutenant-General and General. In the military, there can only be one General at every given time, and the holder of the rank usually serves as the Commander of the Defence Forces. Kenya has never had a female General. The current General is Robert Kibochi.
President Kenyatta oversaw a historical moment on August 17, 2018, when he appointed Nduta as Kenya’s first female Aide-De-Camp.
Rachel Nduta, a Lieutenant-Colonel at the time, was picked by the Head of State to serve as the Assistant Aide De Camp, deputising Timothy Lekolool.
That month Nduta was seen standing behind President Kenyatta.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta [is] at the Kenya Music Festival Winners’ State Concert. On duty, is the new Assistant ADC Lieutenant-Colonel Rachel Nduta Kamui from the Kenya Air Force, who will be working alongside Lieutenant-Colonel Timothy Lekolool,” The State House tweeted on August 17, 2018.
Functions of Aide-de-Camp
“Aide-De-Camp” is a term borrowed from the French language.
Its literal meaning is “helper in the military camp”.
The holder of the position serves as an aide to a VVIP, in most cases a Head of State or Monarch.
An ADC is a highly-trained senior military officer, who is required to be part of the president’s itinerary at all times.
The holder of the position mostly performs ceremonial duties.
Besides the ceremonial tasks such as standing behind the president and opening car doors for the Head of State, an Aide-de-Camp in Kenya has other duties.
For instance, during Uhuru Kenyatta’s tenure, Lekolool was the detail leader, assistant detail leader, tactical commander, motorcade lead, advance lead, mobile agent, static agent and protective intelligence agent.
Simiyu Werunga, the Executive Director for Geneva Centre for Africa Security, told The Standard that all Kenyan Aides-de-Camp held at least the rank of Colonel.
“Unlike the position of the Chief of Defence Forces, which rotates among senior military officers of the Kenya Navy, Kenya Air Force or the Kenya Army, the Aide-de-Camp’s background is immaterial when the president is selecting the serviceman for that position,” said Werunga.
“A new president can choose to retain the current ADC, or appoint a new one altogether.”
Werunga further said that it’s the responsibility of the Defence Council to propose ADCs to new presidents.