Charlene Ruto: President’s daughter in 31 meetings in just one month

Charlene Ruto with Kenya High School students donate foodstuff at Langata Primary School on November 18, 2022.

Charlene Ruto with Kenya High School students donate foodstuff at Langata Primary School on November 18, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool

Just like her father, Charlene has been crisscrossing the country meeting governors, members of county assemblies, community leaders, students at several schools, and even ministers from other countries.

Since October 13, she has had 40 engagements in and out of Kenya.

In November alone, Charlene Ruto held 31 different engagements, locally and internationally. Of the 40 meetings, 13 have been held in Ghana and Morocco while 24 have been in 12 different counties in Kenya. 

Locally, she has met with nine governors, five deputy governors, four county speakers, one Member of Parliament, a number of Members of County Assembly(MCAs), students from seven different schools, two groups of community leaders as well as one ambassador.

Her latest meeting was with Narok Governor Patrick Ntutu on Thursday, after meeting Bomet’s Hillary Barchok and Kisii’s Simba Arati.

While it is not clear what her role is in the government, Ms Ruto, who refers to herself as the First Daughter of Kenya, has been engaged in a frenzy of activities for the past two months.

County visits

So pronounced have her visits become that she was this week trolled on Twitter, with the moniker ‘Quickmart Ivanka’ in reference to the fast-growing supermarket chain—now with 53 branches in 13 counties—as well as Ivanka Trump, daughter of former United States president Donald Trump known to have taken meetings with key leaders after her father was sworn in. 

But Ms Ruto, a communications graduate from Daystar University, took it in her stride, posting a social media update of her shopping at a Quickmart store, with the caption ‘Fresh and easy does it. We move regardless. Where are we popping up next?’

Cecily Mbarire, Charlene Ruto

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, Charlene Ruto, Deputy Governor Kinyua Mugo.Charlene paid a courtesy call on the Governor when she visited the region.

Photo credit: Pool

She started her busy schedule on October 13, when she went on a trip to Ghana alongside young Kenyan politicians like Sagana Mike and Njoki wa Mathira. She met Solomon Asamoah of the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund. 

Her first tour of Kenyan counties was on October 25, when she met Isiolo Deputy Governor James Lowasa, with the agenda of their meeting being the effects of climate change on the environment.

She went on to meet Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire and her deputy the following day. They discussed how to improve tourism in the county, according to her Twitter post. 

She was in Kirinyaga County on October 28, attending a roundtable discussion with Deputy Governor David Githanda and other county officials. She spoke about value addition for farm produce and how the county could benefit from investments in the hospitality industry.

On the same day, in Kitui, she met county assembly Speaker Kelvin Katisya and discussed entrepreneurship and capacity development among young people. 

She then concluded her day by visiting Tharaka-Nithi County, where she met with Speaker John Mbabu.

Her visits have elicited social media discussions, with many questioning her motive.

Some have even gone ahead to say her work is unconstitutional, while others have accused the President of trying to become a dynasty.

As October ended, Ms Ruto had visited five counties in total and met one governor, three deputy governors and two county Speakers. She had held six meetings that month. 

November was a busier month for her, as she made her first public international trip to Morocco, where she attended the 14th edition of the MEDays Forum on November 5. There, she met high-profile dignitaries and made an address to them.

She appealed to African leaders to embrace the bottom-up approach in order to create better opportunities for young people on the continent. 

Trade policy

While popularising her father’s economic model, she noted it was critical in unlocking Africa’s free trade policy that it had struggled to achieve for many years. 

 Charlene Ruto

Kitui County Assembly Speaker Kelvin Katisya with Ms Charlene Ruto on October 28, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool

For the nearly two weeks that she was in Morocco, she met Kenyan students, visited art museums and the Mohammed VI Football Complex in Maamoura alongside the Moroccan minister for youth, culture and communication, Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid.

During the MEDays Forum, she met King Mohammed VI of Morocco and attended a church service at St Andrews Anglican Church in Tangier. She held 12 different meetings in that country. 

As soon as she jetted back into the country, she met with the former deputy governor of Nairobi Jonathan Mueke on November 15 where the two discussed youth empowerment. 

She went on to meet the Belgian Ambassador to Kenya Peter Maddens on November 16.

She then continued with her county tours, participating in a blood donation drive at Kenya Medical Training College and later sharing soda and bread with pupils at Langata Primary on November 18 as she celebrated World Children’s Day.

She also met students and administrators of Kenya High School who donated foodstuffs to pupils at Langata Primary earlier the same day. 

As a climate change action champion, she recently pledged to plant 300 trees and her tree-planting campaign took her to Migori and Kisumu counties on November 20 and 21 respectively.

In Migori, she planted a tree next to one her father planted in 2017 at Moi Girls Nyabohanse in Kuria West. 

She also planted trees at Nyamaharaga Primary School and visited students at St Angela Merichi in the same county where she spoke against early marriages.

The following day she was hosted by Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo. 

In Migori County alone, she had five different engagements in one day.

The following day in Kisumu County, she met community leaders at Kasagam Secondary School and was joined by area MP Shakeel Shabbir to plant trees and donate sanitary towels to students at the school. 

Ms Ruto proceeded to Joyland Special School, where she donated various items and planted trees. She concluded her tour by visiting Nyalunya primary and secondary schools, where she donated textbooks and sanitary towels. She had four engagements that day.