Visiting Ruto need not be a death sentence

Deputy President William Ruto with the head of Holy Ghost Coptic Church Father John Pesa when the DP hosted church leaders from Nyanza at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu County.
 

Photo credit: DPPS

What you need to know:

  • The Deputy President has based his early campaigns for the presidency on a populist platform, playing up his peasant roots and promising to lift poor people out of poverty.
  • Opportunistic criminal elements in the population could be hearing a call to forcibly get a share of Dr Ruto’s wealth.

Kenya’s entertainment award of the week goes to Father John Pesa, the elderly pontiff of the Kisumu-based Holy Ghost Coptic Church.

After mangling his biblical story of David vs Goliath during a visit to Deputy President William Ruto’s Sugoi home, he followed it up with a humour-filled performance at a press conference a couple of days later, complete with a Latin recitation and a chorus.

He thoroughly earned his starring caricature role on Emmanuel Juma’s satirical show Bull’s Eye on NTV. Not quite for his social media pummelling over his reference to David as ‘Suleiman’ in that now famous sermon at Sugoi , though.

 As he explained at the press conference, it was definitely a slip of the tongue. The old man has studied and lived off the Bible since his days in the seminary in the 1950s.

He was expelled from the Catholic Church for his faith-healing ways in the 1960s and got ex-communicated in 1971.

It was also disturbing to hear that some hoodlums had threatened Father Pesa’s life, believing he and the other clergy in the delegation that visited the Deputy President were given loads of cash.

Free money

The perception that Dr Ruto dispenses free money to the people he hosts at his Nairobi and rural homes is one he needs to address urgently, though.

The Deputy President has based his early campaigns for the presidency on a populist platform, playing up his peasant roots and promising to lift poor people out of poverty.

He says he is trying to change the conversation around elections in Kenya from ethnicity to social inequalities.

But it seems like the ‘hustler’ narrative is being interpreted quite differently by some people from what the rest of us hear the Deputy President say.

Opportunistic criminal elements in the population could be hearing a call to forcibly get a share of Dr Ruto’s wealth.

Last week, hooded men broke into a house in Nairobi’s Mathare area in the dead of night, shot a teenager in the stomach and robbed his family of Sh18,000 and electronic gadgets worth Sh85,000.

The teenager’s mother believes the robbery was related to a selfie of Dr Ruto and her she had posted on her Facebook timeline following a visit to the Deputy President’s official residence in Karen as part of a delegation.

Of course, police should do everything to ensure this crime is punished and the family gets justice, whatever the circumstances.

It may well be that the incident had nothing to do with the woman’s visit to Karen.

But after the reported threats to Father Pesa’s life and the Mathare robbery, Dr Ruto should at least review his reception protocols, especially those involving elaborate displays of gift handouts, to avoid exposing guests to crime.

A visit to the Deputy President’s home, for whatever reason, need not be a death sentence.

jkotieno@ke.nationmedia,com. @otienootieno