16-08-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
William Ruto was one of the many young boys in northern Kenya who walked miles barefoot every day to get to and from school.
He received his first pair of shoes at the age of 15 because they were compulsory to attend high school.
To earn a living he sold chickens at the market and peanuts by the roadside. The new president of Kenya, 55 years old, is the classic 'self-made man', a social climber capable of creating from nothing in thirty years an empire consisting of farms, ranches, hotel chains and other investments.
His political career began in 1992, in the Kanu Youth, the party of Daniel Arap Moi, the second president of Kenya from his own tribe, the Kalenjin. In 1997 he entered parliament at the first attempt as a representative of Eldoret, the city of the great marathon runners. In the meantime he graduated in botany from the University of Nairobi, Moi promoted him from assistant to Minister of Home Affairs and in 2002, with the election of an ethnic Kikuyu president, Mwai Kibaki, he changed parties and obtained the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2007, he chose to side with the opposition and support Raila Odinga's candidature for president, being closed by Uhuru Kenyatta for the role of deputy Kibaki.
It is the year of post-election violence triggered by Odinga's accusations of fraud. Violence that will lead to the tragic tally of 1200 dead and over 600 missing. The International Court accused him and Kenyatta of massacre and crimes against humanity. They will both be acquitted in 2014 and 2016. In the following elections, in March 2013, he returned with the majority and supported Kenyatta's candidature, becoming his vice-president. He was confirmed in office after the disputed 2017 elections, which were re-run by the judges after a complaint by Odinga's alliance. The rift with Kenyatta occurs in February 2018, when Kenyatta and Odinga come to terms and call for a referendum to change the constitution, with the idea of creating the position of prime minister for Kenyatta who cannot run again at the end of his double term. The judges reject the request and Ruto decides to found his own party, United Democratic Alliance, and run for president while remaining Kenyatta's deputy, who instead supports Odinga's candidacy.
The chicken man has won over the average Kenyan electorate with the hustler narrative, as he calls himself. In English, at best, the word sounds like 'a person willing to do anything to make ends meet'.
Ruto calls his ideal Kenya a 'hustler nation'. Now this philosophy is in power.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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