Gachagua's Mt Kenya visits building his local support, boosting image

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua addresses a gathering at Kagumo town, Kirinyaga County on Saturday. [DPCS]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has made countless political trips amounting to 30 in Mt Kenya region in the last two months, in a strategy aimed at holding his backyard under his grip.

The 30 trips mean that for one month in a row, the second in command has been in his region and this has informed his critics to nickname him a ‘villager’ and ‘tribalist’ due to his clarion unity call to his region and his ‘one man one vote one-shilling’ revenue sharing formular.

On Saturday, Gachagua toured Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties while on Friday, he was in Kasarani Constituency to commission new classrooms and later addressed residents at Ruai and Bypass estates using his native Kikuyu language.

At Karasani, Gachagua defended the revenue-sharing formula  saying he was not speaking about his personal interests but only relying on what Kenyans wanted - he was the voice of Kenyans.

“Whatever I’m speaking is not about my agenda, I’m only speaking what the ground wants; I’m speaking what the ordinary Kenyans want and we shall continue despite their insults,” he said

While responding to his critics who have accused him of being a tribalist, he said, "Let us respect our electorate, they are our bosses, everybody comes from the village and they must respect us.”

He added, “Never be embarrassed for having come from a certain village; nobody sent letters to God to choose where he or she would like to be born or chose his language. Nobody should sell fear for who we are. I’m not an English man to speak the English language to my natives.”

On June 13, the second in command was in Meru where he accompanied President William Ruto to commission Meru Dairy Union factory. The same day, he visited former Mukurweini MP Antony Kiai to console him over the loss of his daughter and later addressed his natives on his way back from Mukurweini.

On June 10, he was in Nakuru for the Akorino National prayers even, which was also attended by the President. On June 2, he was in Meru at Our Lady of Visitation Catholic church where he held rallies at Timau. A day earlier, he joined fans of Kikuyu golden oldies in Nanyuki for an extravaganza. Over 20 elected leaders joined him and dismissed his critics as collaborators and traitors.

“The issue of sellouts within our community is not something new as there were individuals who collaborated with the colonial masters for some personal benefits instead of sacrificing for the good of the larger community,” Gachagua said even as he called on his people to demand that  their MPs stand with him.

On May 31, Gachagua and his lieutenants were in Mutonyora village in Nyandarua for a fundraising event and later engaged his supporters in Kiambu County where he passed along Kwa Mbira, Limuru and Kimende areas where he expressed his remorsefulness in attacking former President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 2022 general elections.

“We failed and you (the locals) failed too since we were together in humiliating Uhuru, but once bitten twice shy,” he said remorsefully. “Never again shall we humiliate our king and our leader.  We shall all ‘die with our leader’ even if we feel he has done wrong, let him take us to wherever he wishes because that is what other communities do.” 

On May 21, Gachagua explained why he had gone under for seven days while attending a burial ceremony of his former Kianyaga Principal Julius Kano Ndumbi in Kirinyaga. He said he had taken a hiatus inside the vast Mt Kenya forest to meditate, pray, and fast for the country, a pilgrimage he is known to make.

“I had taken seven days away for prayers and fasting, for reflection and meditation in the heart of Mt Kenya forest,” he told mourners.

The Deputy President resurfaced amid claims of a fallout between him and his boss over claims that he had been denied a military chopper to travel to Uasin Gishu to preside over a tree planting exercise on May 10.

 On the flipside Gachagua has been out of Mt Kenya only six times. He joined worshippers at the Peace and Mercy church of Africa in Kericho on June 9, joined a fundraiser in Kericho on June 8, launched Matharu ESP Market in Uasin Gishu on May 25, comforted flood victims in Garissa at Hyuga Primary School on May 2, presided over women empowerment drive in Langata Nairobi and presided over a funds drive in Kilifi on April 4.

Explaining why he has made countless trips to his backyard, Gachagua has said a ‘person goes where he is loved and appreciated” and that one should always reciprocate love with love

“I will continue coming to Embu and in the Mt Kenya region if they don’t want me to come here, where do they want me to go? We go where we are appreciated and loved, it is not only women who like to be loved. We also do. And that is why I keep going back to my people. You show love to the people who show you love,” he said on May 1 at a function in Embu.

Political pundits believe that despite his critics labelling him an ethnic bigot, Gachagua has been picking the stones thrown at him to use them against his critics. He has been popularizing himself in Mt Kenya region believing that his drawing close to his region is resonating with his people unlike in the past when he did not seem to have the oomph.

“He has established a deep-rooted connection with local communities across Mt Kenya,” said Charles Njoroge a political analyst observing the trends in mountain politics. He adds, “He has understood challenges and aspirations of the people firsthand and has consistently advocated for the economic and social interests of Mt Kenya ensuring the region’s concerns are prioritized in national policy making thanks to his numerous visits.” 

According to Njoroge, Gachagua has successfully removed himself from the shadows of the president. Unlike in the past where Mt Kenya kingpins built their political profile, Gachagua’s case was different since he was introduced to the larger mountain region by Ruto.

On his part, communication expert Herman Manyora noted that Gachagua’s closeness with his natives has changed him into a ‘quieter more appeasing leader focused on Mt Kenya region’s agenda of political unity.’

Manyora said, due to his equitable revenue-sharing formula proposal, the people have drawn closer to him.

“He is now seen to be championing Mt Kenya’s agenda, a discussion that makes him a darling of his people,” he said.