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DP William Ruto stumbles in the dark on debate night

Deputy President William Ruto speaks during the debate held at CUEA. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

There was a reasonable expectation that things would get shrill as the August 9 General Election drew nearer. But boy oh boy! Who could have predicted the tenor of the homestretch?

I’ll steer clear of some very bad rumours spread by Azimio boss Raphael Tuju that the Deputy President, Man Ruto is a villain of epic proportions, stealing children’s playgrounds and beating up women to break their arms and other body parts.

I will treat all those as rumours, even though Tuju says he’s ready to table the evidence in court. That’s courting disaster, no doubt, so I’ll focus on the one issue that I know and hold true, having witnessed it with these very eyes. On Tuesday, the so-called Deep State finally subjected the Man from Sugoi to a public humiliation.

First came the ruse. They said it was a debate, but Man Ruto was left, akijiongelesha. It means speaking to oneself. One moment, Raila Odinga aka Baba aka The Fifth aka Kitendawili was waiting enthusiastically for the presidential debate. Next, we heard he was heading to Jericho Social Hall. Next, he was in Meru…

And just like that, Man Ruto was suddenly on his own, under the harsh TV lights, guns blazing.  Officially, he was there to articulate his vision for this country, which he hopes to lead in under two weeks. First, the lights went out in huge swathes of the country. Isn’t that how Deep State works?

But some dim lights remained in the city, where Ruto stood before two journos who had thick files in front of them. Well, to start us off, one said cynically, we have a thing or two we’d like you to clarify. After all, you have said in the past what you are repeating here…

Man Ruto lost a bit of composure. He was delivering his well-rehearsed lines about providing fertiliser to farmers, one would think dumping tonnes of fertiliser in soil magically produces food. He licked his lower lip, trying to regain his composure. He licked his lip again.

“Tell us specifically about the Galana Kulalu project,” one journo said. Ruto’s response was garbled, as though reading a script whose printing was mangled, so some lines from page 15 appeared on two, and vice versa. This is a direct quote: “The Kul-G-Galana Kulalu project was conceived, in fact, what happened, the first 10,000, the pilot on the first 10,000 programme took place, in fact, the first harvest of maize in that programme, came into being…”

If Man Ruto called upon his Lord, I think he was caught in the Mombasa Road traffic. He went on: “And the recommendations from the trial on that programme was, we needed to build a dam, because the water from the river was not sufficient to do the Golan-Galana Kulalu. We needed to scale up now and to the (sic) dam, so that the water that was available because the soils research and the trials showed that the soils could actually support the production of maize and other cereals…”

Then came the follow-up question: Why wasn’t the dam built?  “Unfortunately, it didn’t move from there,” Ruto stuttered, uncertainly. “Because we didn’t get the dam ee eeee sorted. And you know that the whole project, we had actually 57 dams that we had wanted to do eeeeee, they were not done eeeeee, they suffered.”

The journos let Man Ruto suffer on. Would he accept the outcome of the elections, one fired. “Accepting the outcome of the election includes going to court if you have an issue with the results,” he said grimly.

And there it was. He had lost the debate. In this memorable Freudian slip he was already considering a court battle, even before the ballots are cast. For having grown in the Rift Valley, he should have picked a vital lesson from our world-conquering athletes. You may match their training, you may match their experience, but to beat them you have to match their faith in the victory.