Deputy President must be a very worried man, indeed! Continuing to be the Deputy President depends on his ability to bring the so-called Kalenjin community together and keep them following him like a flock of sheep.
He has so far, done well since Mr. Daniel arap Moi went out of power in 2002. Moi had held on to power, thanks to unpopular constitutional amendments made by his predecessor and mentor Mr. Jomo Kenyatta. Key among these was the destruction of multi-party democracy and the detention without trial of anyone expressing ideas “harmful” to Jomo Kenyatta’s continued rule.
Moi who had been Kenyatta’s Vice President for years before taking over from him, was so entranced by his boss that he told Kenyans to follow the footsteps of Jomo Kenyatta. As President of Kenya, Nyayo – footsteps – became Moi’s second name. Indeed, he even went ahead, to practically appoint the son of Jomo Kenyatta to succeed him, so that, as some people argued, the leadership of Kenya would perpetually rotate between the two families.
But it was a system that most Kenyans hated and struggled to remove peacefully, if they could, or violently if need be. Twenty four years of Moi’s rule was more than they could bear. And they not only removed Moi, thankfully peacefully, but overhauled the constitution returning the country to a multi-party system, and doing away with the oppressive colonial detention without trial laws.
Ruto was an active, if also sly, supporter of Moi just as he claims. Coming from a poor home in distant Eldoret, he wanted to put several corners between him and poverty – as the saying goes. And Moi was the vehicle to be used. He succeeded – became the Deputy President and inflated his ego. He forgot to oil a major cog in the political jaggernaut –the “Kalenjin tribe” – that Moi created.
When he became a leader representing the small Tugen tribe, Moi and his political friends created in the” Kalenjin tribe” a conglomeration of communities held together by a mythical origin and the callout word “Kalei”. The purpose was to enlarge the vehicle to use to stay in power with a large community that could negotiate power for themselves, their friends and their families. But Ruto, standing there, where Moi had only a short while stood and awed him, he couldn’t possibly help feeling that a miracle had, in deed, happened. He now controlled an enormous powerhouse, striding almost all the agriculturally productive Kenya. But he didn’t realize he was an odd man sitting in the group neatly woven up by Moi and Jomo Kenyatta. Times had also changed and the juggernaut that Moi had created was no longer a mindless flock of sheep.
Not surprisingly, opposition has come from Gedion Moi, the son of former President Daniel arap Moi, whom Ruto has dethroned. In an effort to shake him off his back, Ruto told the Kipsigis in Kericho that Gideon Moi is uncircumcised, probably a reference to the fact that Gedion Moi is untested in the game of high politics. Gedion Moi’s response was more to the point. He condemned Ruto as desperate. “It is a sign that the people of the Rift valley have finally realized who he is. The end has come and the Kericho vote will be a vote of no confidence in him.”
Whether his man will win or not in the Kericho by-election on Monday 7, March, 2016, may not be an important point. The important point is that Ruto has been unmasked. Things won’t be the same for him anymore.
And old man Daniel arap Moi must be laughing – the way he used to – to hear Ruto now calling upon his name after the years of disdain. Even when Uhuru Kenyatta tried to reach out to Moi at the beginning of Uhu- Ruto rule, Ruto, who would now gladly put an “I am a Kalenjin” placard on his forehead, never made an effort.