What you need to know:
- Beyond academic credentials, Dr Ruto is armed with a million and one tonnes in street smarts and native intelligence, far more useful to political careers than a million degrees.
- The least Kenyans expect is a few simple things to ease the cost of living—like a dramatic reduction in taxes that Dr Ruto himself told us are the main cause of sky-high petrol prices.
President William Ruto is Kenya’s ‘cleverest’ president ever, if that is an attribute measured by academic qualifications. He is the only one of the five gentlemen to occupy State House since Independence to have earned a Doctorate of Philosophy and, hence, the right to preface the ‘Dr’ to his name.
It is not an achievement he takes lightly, as evidenced by the peculiar Kenyan obsession with titles and honorifics by which he appended the ‘PhD’ to his social media handles as soon he was awarded the degree in 2018.
The PhD was the completion of an amazing educational journey, most of which was miraculously achieved when he was already engaged 365 days a year in the dark arts and sciences of ‘politricks’. Note that his doctorate was earned from the toil of academic pursuit—unlike that every big shot in our political, religious and business leadership spheres who has procured an honorary doctorate and insists on irregularly being referred to by the ‘Doctor’ title.
Beyond academic credentials, Dr Ruto is armed with a million and one tonnes in street smarts and native intelligence, far more useful to political careers than a million degrees. He is not an egghead or geek forever buried in books and out of touch with things as they are on the ground.
Dr Ruto is, first and foremost, a politician, more of a Daniel arap Moi or Raila Odinga than some scientific researcher. He has the political pulse at his fingertips. He can sniff an opportunity a mile away and move in nimbly to take advantage of it when everybody else is still in slumber. An alert radar will also detect threats at a distance.
It, therefore, beggars belief that the President is blind to the threats posed by saboteurs and traitors within his own government. Yet 2027 is looming. If Dr Ruto faces the ignominy of being reduced to Kenya’s first one-term president since the return of multi-party democracy, it is because he has failed to deal with the real enemy. That is, those in Cabinet, State House, ruling party leadership, senior public officers, policy advisers, as well the ubiquitous ‘home boys’, who are all working overtime to make his the most unpopular administration.
Racks up air miles
As the President racks up air miles across the globe with barely time to time to change his shirt before the next junket, he is oblivious to growing disillusionment and hostility. Citizens suffering an economy in free-fall yet seeing powerful figures around the President wallowing in conspicuous consumption and primitive accumulation will no longer be comforted by meaningless ‘bottom-up’ sloganeering.
The least Kenyans expect is a few simple things to ease the cost of living—like a dramatic reduction in taxes that Dr Ruto himself told us are the main cause of sky-high petrol prices. People also expect that the robbers sabotaging his administration from within will be hung, drawn and quartered. A good start would be with those who designed the scheme on duty-free imports of cooking oil, rice and other foodstuffs.
Then there were those who came up with that so-called government-to-government (‘G-to-G’) oil import scam and lied that payments would be in Kenyan shillings, thus halting a precipitous slide against the dollar. They also lied that local dealers handling the imports were directly selected by the Saudi, Abu Dhabi and Emirati suppliers, thereby by-passing government procurement laws.
Dr Ruto turns 57 on December 21—still a relatively young man with many good years ahead of him. If he is still interested in making even a moderate success of his first term, he must before then move ruthlessly, not against the enemies he knows but the fake friends within.
It is how he deals with these existential threats to his political career that are within that will determine whether he is part of the solution or the cause of the problem. If he does nothing, he might as well start designing his retirement home.
* * *
How time flies. Just one year ago, a gigantic void opened up in my life. An entire adult life of shared laughter, pain, joy, fights, accomplishments and struggles came to a shuddering halt. The memories of those good times are as fresh as they ever were.
Life went on, but not quite: The engagements that never ceased on these spaces; the close-knit family bonds holding us together; work, retreats and workshops; fun and camaraderie on road trips; nights out with the boys; making new friends.... But none can disguise the lonely, empty existence, the incredible sadness, the tears that flow freely in private moments.
My dearest, you are always in my heart, mind and soul.
[email protected]. @MachariaGaitho