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William Ruto- from roast chicken hustler to Kenya’s 5th President

By James Wafula Workers Eye Bomas of Kenya Nairobi.

Kenya’s “President-Elect” Dr. William Samoe Ruto has come a long way from the time he sold roast chicken while in secondary school at the busy Eldoret bus terminus in the 1980’s, to winning Kenya’s August 9, 2022 Presidential election against five times contender veteran opposition leader Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga.

Ruto who holds a doctorate in Plant Ecology from the University of Nairobi fell out with his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta barely a year after the 2017 general elections whose results were overturned by the court and a fresh poll ordered.

Kenyatta made peace with his bitter foe Raila Odinga on March 9 2018 through a symbolic handshake and their close working ties saw Ruto sidelined from all government functions as new kids on the block took centre stage.

Ruto has virtually been ‘jobless” over the last four years as his boss increasingly isolated and stigmatized him saying he was temperamental and corrupt, and not a suitable successor. To keep himself busy Ruto kept campaigning for the elections just concluded hosting one group after another at his Karen office-cum-house. He concentrated most of his campaigns on the vote-rich mount Kenya to the bitter chagrin of President Kenyatta.

Kenyatta instead widely rooted for Odinga, 77, saying the much older opposition leader was a better safe pair of hands than his 55-year-old deputy who braved one embarrassing episode after another as his boss publicly humiliated him.

Matters came to a head when some Kikuyu elders who brokered the 2012-2013 pre-election peace pact between the former feuding Kikuyu-Kalenjin roundly lambasted the president for being “thankless” and badly mistreating his deputy without whom he would not have become president for two terms.

Kenyatta however waved aside the criticism roundly rooting for Odinga until the eve of elections but his tribesmen kept their pledge to show him dust on election day by massively voting for Ruto.

Ruto, now a widely wealthy man with a vast fortune that includes several ranch farms, engaged in poultry and dairy farming, has won the hearts of many Kikuyus through his “bottom up” Hustler economic strategy. The DP is among a few political elite owning state of the art helicopters complete with bullet proof windows and night vision equipment!

The Kikuyu who are Kenya’s most enterprising community with a high sense of business acumen found Ruto’s “wheel barrow” hustle economy for millions of jobless Kenyans an enduring strategy that helped put food on the table. Many are today selling roast maize with wheel-barrows donated by Ruto and others sell hot coffee from flasks given out by Mr Ruto securing a steady income for Kenya’s holloi polloi.

But Raila had dismissed the wheel-barrow strategy telling Ruto to stop insulting the intelligence of jobless Kenyans who are educated graduates in many fields and deserve better. But Ruto supporters touted Raila to show them the difference in “words and deeds”.

At one time several youth in Raila’s Kisumu home-turf declared support for the Ruto wheel barrow saying it was more useful than “kitenda wili” (folk stories) which had been a trademark of Raila during every public speech.

As President Elect if he surmounts the court challenges and is sworn in, Ruto will be capping an illustrious career from humble begginings as a PA to YK92 chairman Cyrus Jirongo in 1992 and is said to have often helped out with chores carrying his briefcase and milking cows.

It is from this humility that Ruto has emerged to the appex of power in East Africa’s largest economy. He is expected to strengthen the warm cordial ties with Uganda’s long leading President Yoweri Museveni who has already telephoned him to personally congratulate him.

Museveni has been losing sleepless nights at the possibility of a Raila Odinga presidency in Nairobi over the latter’s close ties with Uganda’s opposition leaders and constant criticism of Kampala’s “flawed elections” since 2016. Odinga had last year roundly told off Museveni for harassing Kenyan fishermen in Mighingo and holding sham elections using the army to bully opposition leaders.

Ruto, a professed born-again Christian  is a Kalenjin like Kenya’s second President the late Daniel Arap Moi, who spent a fortune bankrolling churches before the elections funding one project after another.

The churches are widely expected to have played a critical role in ensuring the victory in one of Africa’s most closely contested presidential elections barely managing to skip the 50+1 constitutional threshold to win the top job as Kenyatta’s successor.

Ruto’s victory would seem by his own admission to prove that humility, patience and long suffering eventually pays off considering the shabby treatment he has endured at the hands of a man he claims virtually made president- three  timesâ– 

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