What you need to know:
- DP William Ruto, the erstwhile assistant to Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta, is a man with a messianic complex.
- Mr Ruto knows if you wrap yourself in the Church – and shout biblical verses from the rooftops – an impressionable Kenyan electorate will overlook your warts.
Most presidential campaigns are long on propagandistic slogans and short on policy. Candidates often sell snake oil or empty head fakes to gullible electorates.
In Kenya, there hasn’t been a more Orwellian fraud than the so-called “Hustler Nation”. Past notable turns of phrase, or word plays, include “Kibaki tosha” or “unbwogable”. Even the inimitable “Tinga” falls in this genre. Such slogans are an opiate for the hoi polloi. Candidate Donald Trump of the United States has his red-hatted “Make America Great Again” or Maga.
However, the most cunning catchphrases turn a brazen lie into an ostensible truth. It’s all in the clever, sleight-of-hand branding. That’s why today I’ll deconstruct and debunk the fictional – mythical – Hustler Nation.
DP William Ruto, the erstwhile assistant to Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta, is a man with a messianic complex. The “Hustler Nation” narrative sits at the centre of that psychosis. Ever since he burst on the national political scene with the dreaded Youth for Kanu ’92, Mr Ruto has sought to build a cult of personality.
Outwardly, he’s laboured to create an image of a master strategist, an everyman’s populist and a holier-than-thou man of God. I’ve often wondered why he didn’t just become a priest if he was a man of such deep faith. Mr Ruto knows if you wrap yourself in the Church – and shout biblical verses from the rooftops – an impressionable Kenyan electorate will overlook your warts.
Let’s dig deeper. The word “hustler” – if you go by the educated dictionary’s meaning – is seedy, a language of infamy. It could mean a “fraudster”, “thief”, “male prostitute”, “conman”, “swindler”, “liar” and “cheat”, among other disreputable terms.
It’s a word with which no decent human being wants to describe their relative, or friend. In fact, an upright person wants to run in the opposite direction at the mere mention of the word. Paradoxically, Mr Ruto and his legion of political simpletons have widely embraced the term.
They call themselves the ‘Hustler Nation’. His social media mouthpieces – who include some prominent lawyers – sing the virtues of the term as though they were piously serenading Mother Teresa. However, it’s all bunk.
In their defence, Mr Ruto’s bloggers and his easily deceived disciples argue they’ve adopted the rare, but colloquial, use of the term. This counter-meaning, the flipside of the word describes someone who “hustles” to scratch their way up from the bottom – from nothing – and lift himself or herself up by the straps of their boots.
Used in this empathetic poor man’s language, “hustler” is a term of class warfare that pits the exploiting and blood-sucking political, business and ruling elites against the huddled, oppressed masses.
In Mr Ruto’s fertile imagination, the ‘Hustler Nation’ is poised to sweep the political “dynasties” into the ocean in 2022. I’ll give him this – many hapless pedestrians have drunk the Kool-Aid.
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, nothing is what it seems. The state tells you not to believe your lying eyes. It creates an alternate universe where your repression is seemingly unreal and fictitious. Except it isn’t. In misappropriating the term “Hustler Nation”, Mr Ruto is constructing a myth, a seductive phantom, to remake his image. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if we were to buy Mr Ruto’s twisted web of lies, then he is nothing but the political scion of the Moi-Kanu kleptocracy.
He’s himself the living, breathing personification of the godson of the “Moi Dynasty”. His true “dynastic brother” is Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi because it’s President Moi who created Mr Ruto.
Much has been made of Mr Ruto’s massive wealth. Even as he gives destitute and hungry Jua Kali artisans a wheelbarrow, a hair dryer, or buys a roadside folding picking table from struggling fundis for public relations gimmickry, Mr Ruto himself lives like a king. He’s driven in the most expensive personal cars and flies in multiple state-of-the art personal helicopters. He reportedly has a helipad at his Sugoi mansion. It’s not clear how Mr Ruto acquired all these gargantuan riches.
He owns several hotels, including the Weston Hotel, which is under litigation because he built it on illegally acquired land. A non-professional’s guess is that Mr Ruto is worth billions of shillings, if not American dollars.
On several TV programmes, including BBC’s Hard Talk, Mr Ruto couldn’t explain the source of his enormous wealth. He donates unexplained millions to churches.
I don’t know where Mr Ruto got his wealth, or whether he’s stolen a single cent. However, the whiff of reported scandal upon scandal dog him everywhere.
I know this – a true hustler would steal billions from the poor public and then try to convince those same poor masses that he and they are fellow “hustlers”. This is in a hustler’s DNA everywhere on earth. If Mr Ruto’s followers are the “Hustler Nation”, then he’s the wrong leader because he’s no “hustler”.