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President William Ruto's 1 hour-and-10-minute speech draws reactions

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

President William Ruto started his Mashujaa Day speech at 12:45pm on Thursday and ended it at 1:55pm in what has been termed online a “long-winded speech”.

Contrary to his address to the Bicameral Parliament on September 30 which lasted only 33 minutes, the Mashujaa Day address fell short of a full football match by 20 minutes.

A section of journalists said they were struggling to find catchy phrases from the president’s speech to use in the subsequent news bulletins.

Others said the speech was heavy on boardroom lingo, failing to address the pressing needs of ordinary Kenyans.

A majority of online users said they were hoping the president would address the high cost of living and the measures his government would take in the coming days to cushion the citizens.

Prior to his 20-page speech, Ruto’s deputy Rigathi Gachagua, known for making off-the-cuff remarks, stuck to his written three-page speech, which was uncharacteristic of him, going by his previous addresses.

The DP’s speech lasted a record four minutes.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja of the host county was the only other leader who spoke at the function held at Uhuru Gardens. His speech, made before DP Rigathi Gachagua’s, lasted six minutes.

Online users said President’s Ruto’s speech was devoid of a connection with the common mwananchi, and was long and elitist.

Below are some of the sampled reactions from Kenyans on Twitter:

Edwin H. Dande (@ehdande) said: “What’s happening? President Ruto today looks detached from his speech… He is just reading it. No emotions, connection, vigour or passion. Just neutral. No off the cuff comments.”

Etuku Ham (@hametuku) said: “I’ve slept and woken up, and Ruto is still reading his speech.”

Kipkoech Arap Chepkiruok (@Arapchepkiruok) said: “Today you (the president’s speechwriters) have given Ruto a very long speech. It’s almost an hour now and still counting.”

Bii (@bii_amon) said: “I slept in the middle of that long speech. I don’t understand [the message the president is putting across].”

Ngong’u Kiarie (@Joekiash) said: “President Ruto’s speech today is too long. I think it should be circulated to schools and used as a set book. It has a campaign tone. Boss (Ruto), you’re now on the steering wheel. [We need] action.”

Voice of Langata (@Midila_Thunder) said: “When a speech is too long, and there's no tonal variations and dramatisation, it becomes a lullaby however informative it could be.”

In the address, President Ruto said, among other things, that the Hustlers’ Fund which he’ll officially roll out on December 1, will allow SMEs to save under the programme, and for every savings made, the government will add to it half the amount.

The Head of State also directed the Kenya Forest Service to hire an additional 2,700 forest rangers and 600 forest officers to protect water towers and fight off encroachment.

At the start of his address, he thanked Kenyans for voting for the “son of a peasant” as the country’s fifth president.