By Gab Oguda
There is a problem with looking at William Ruto as just another peasant who shall never be allowed by the Kenyan aristocracy to be president of Kenya.
Let’s look at this thing from another perspective.
In terms of Kenya’s aristocracy, and refined finesse, no one comes closer than Sir Charles Njonjo. This guy singlehandedly ran Jomo Kenyatta’s government when Mzee was so old and suffering from cardiovascular illnesses he used to sleep while being entertained by traditional dancers at State Lodge Nakuru. Njonjo and Bruce McKenzie (the only white man in Jomo Kenyatta’s first Cabinet) ran this country so effortlessly and without Jomo Kenyatta knowing it, Bruce McKenzie was close to senior figures in both the British and Israeli foreign intelligence services he knew all the M16 officers in Nairobi, by name. You could say he was a conduit for information flowing both from the Kenyan government and the British government, just the way aristocracy would have loved it to be.
Sir Charles Njonjo knew this connection very well, and chose to be McKenzie’s bosom buddy working together to run Jomo’s government often times without Mzee’s knowledge. He got so drunk with power, Sir Charles, that he made it a treasonable act for anyone in Kenya to dicuss Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s ill-health, and potential death. Sir Charles Njonjo knew Mzee would not live long and he had done enough to smoothly succeed him. And when Vice President Daniel Arap Moi stepped in after Mzee died in Mombasa, the aristocrats around Sir Charles Njonjo called Mzee Moi “a passing cloud” who was just warming the seat for the rightful owners, when the time comes. Hindsight tells us they were wrong, the peasant from a village in Sacho, Baringo County, ruled for 24 years proper and left power on his own terms.
And so William Ruto is not stupid, as to learn how the Kenyan aristocracy works. Succession politics, world over, is so predictable it hurts. The principle of choosing deputies who cannot rise to the top spot remains good advise world over. It is no coincidence that Saddam Hussein, as president of Islamic Iraq, had a Christian, Tariq Aziz, as his number two. Michael Sata, as president of Zambia, chose Guy Scott as his Vice President. When Sata died in a London hospital, Guy Scott couldn’t succeed him because he had a Scottish passport, Edgar Lungu, then Minister for Defence, had to cut short his trip in Angola to come take the reigns of power. This is precisely how aristocracy works, appointing flowergirl deputies whose roles begin and end with lack of ambition. Cyril Ramaphosa was never Jacob Zuma’s preferred successor despite being his Deputy, that choice went to his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. But Ramaphosa knew the inner workings of the ANC, and has just beaten Dlamini-Zuma in the presidential race.
There is a problem, therefore, with looking at William Ruto as just another peasant Deputy President who shall never be allowed by the Kenyan aristocracy to be the top guy. The difference between children born of aristocracy (like Gideon Moi and Uhuru Kenyatta) and those born of peasantry (like William Ruto and Daniel Moi) is that unlike children born of blue blood, those born of peasantry do not wait to be given power, they wriggle themselves into positions with sheer stealth and wait for their opportune moment to strike. Daniel Moi was so deceptively humble to wakina Charles Njonjo they thought he was just a political weakling who would roll over after Kenyatta’s death. They now know that they didn’t know.
William Ruto, on the other hand, has chosen to show his claws this early; and it is not by default. William Ruto knows that, in politics as in life, waiting is risky business. There is no prize for coming second and he needs to arrange his stars this early or else someone else will be arranged for. Leaders who want to stay in power must take whatever actions needed to do so. Anyone unwilling to undertake the dirty work that so many leaders are called on to do should not pursue becoming a leader. Certainly, anyone reluctant to be brute will not last long if everyone knows he is unprepared to engage in the vicious behavior that maybe essential for political survival.
Those who don’t like William Ruto being president will tell you that the number one reason they hate him is his virulence. William Ruto is no nonsense, he doesn’t take rejection lying down, you steal from him and he comes back at you with a destructive vengeance. William Ruto is an aristocrat’s worst nightmare.
The Kenyan aristocracy have stolen Raila Odinga’s win, at least, twice. The 2007 one was so glaring it could be seen from outside space. But the problem with Raila Odinga is that he is also an aristocrat – and aristocrats know how to survive with fellow aristocrats even after losing elections, I will not be shocked if Raila Odinga calls Uhuru Kenyatta once in a while to cut business deals, even if in the public arena they appear to be sworn enemies. That’s how aristocracy works. They watch over themselves in private and pretend to be slaughtering each other in public.
William Ruto has no such luxury. He knows that as a son of a peasant if the aristocracy elbows him out of the 2022 equation, his goose is well and truly cooked. They will confiscate his primitively acquired wealth, reopen his 2007 genocide files, and lock him in and throw away the keys. William Ruto knows that his only chance at protecting his fortunes rests in his acquisition of real power. That’s not a man that looks like he can allow you to steal his victory. Put it the other way; William Ruto doesn’t look like a man you can even think of stealing from.
While you people are busy with permutations on why the aristocracy will never allow William Ruto to be president, the man is busy accumulating a campaign war chest, buying loyalty all over the place and stifling the growth of his potential challengers. You are like that son of the Headmaster who kept sleeping in class while others were busy moonlighting, expecting that his father would give him access to exam leakage when the time came.