First daughter Charlene Ruto’s smokie kachumbari, mitumba

Charlene Ruto
Photo credit: John Nyaga | Nation Media Group

Charlene Ruto was relatively unknown before her father became Kenya’s fifth president this year. And just like that, she was thrust – thrust herself – into national limelight, quickly becoming the talk of town.

But not to be outshone by the President, the mother of one pulled a fast one on her father who is said to have been a chicken seller decades ago.

While addressing University of Nairobi students, Charlene narrated how she made ends meet selling “smokie kachumbari” at Daystar, a private university.

“I sold smokie kachumbari. I was at Daystar University and that is what used to sell the most,” said the second daughter of President Ruto.

Even as choruses of “uongo, huo ni uongo (lies, that is a lie)” rent the air, the PR and Branding boss at Weston Hotel was undeterred.

During the time Charlene was reportedly selling smokie kachumbari, her father was Deputy President of Kenya alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in communication in 2015.

Charlene dismissed the notion among Kenyans that she cannot sell smokie kachumbari by even trying to prove that she is that girl next door and not desperately trying to fit in.

The self-proclaimed “voice for the youth” said she has also been shopping at the popular Nairobi used clothes open-air market, Gikomba, “many times”.

The problem with Kenyans is that they are just too blind to see her rocking clothes from Gikosh!

“Even if my father is the President, mimi nimekuwa kwa (I have been on the) ground the whole time and my friends know that. I have even shopped at Gikomba many times,” Charlene Ruto said.

Nonetheless, her undefined tours in and outside the country, engaging in political activities – including visiting county assemblies, holding meetings with governors and even flying to Morocco on an unofficial state visit – drew the loudest backlash.

The highly publicised tours raised eyebrows, with Kenyans on Twitter demanding to know whose money she was using.

Charlene Ruto would earn the moniker “Quickmart Ivanka”, a binomial nomenclature of the fast expanding supermarket and the name of the first daughter of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Just like Ivanka, who traversed the US during her father’s presidency, working, but without a defined official role, Charlene has been anywhere and everywhere.

And there are more similarities between the pair.

Ivanka was the executive vice-president of the family-owned Trump Organisation and served as a panel judge on her father’s television show, “The Apprentice”.

Charlene is a director at family-owned Weston Hotel, Nairobi.

Just a number

Just like Ivanka was very busy with this and that at the start of her father’s presidency until she landed a position in government, Charlene has also been engaged in state business in a vague capacity since her father succeeded Mr Uhuru Kenyatta.

Even as the criticism grew online, Charlene appeared unperturbed and rubbed rub it in on the faces of her “haters” by going shopping at a Quickmart store.

“Fresh and easy does it? We move regardless. Where are we popping next?” she asked in a cheeky retort to her critics in a “wakimwaga mboga namwaga ugali” style.

And popping she did when she introduced the Office of the First Daughter, complete with a backroom staff on December 13. That is despite the fact that Charlene is the second and not first daughter. But as they say, age is just but a number.

She was once again outside the country, this time leading a delegation to Arusha, Tanzania, for the 2022 YouLead Summit.

KoT once again went berserk, questioning when such an office came to existence when it is not even in the country’s Constitution. She had to clarify.

“The Office of the First Daughter is a private entity. It is neither a constitutional office, nor is it being funded by taxpayers. It purely facilitates the activities and programmes run by myself,” Charlene Ruto said.

And just like Ivanka fought until she was given an official position in her father’s government, Charlene could just be headed in that direction. Watch this space!