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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Explaining the Gema Ruto-phobia

William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto is young, sexy, charismatic and stinking rich. He is a politician, a leader and a businessman. All these cast into one, add that to him being dangerously sharp and witty and you know why the hate groups are swelling in like manner. Ruto is a good orator and he belongs to a generation in the Kalenjin community that prides itself for courage. The Kaplelach generation is one full cycle complete after the previous one which was represented by none other than Koitalel Samoei, the Nandi Orkoiyot.

Those who like the man do so with religious reverence. Those who hate him are equally passionate about their feelings. The haters have brought a new dimension to Ruto-phobia. There is now a sustained media and cyber-campaign to tarnish the man who can articulate his position without fear. He is unfairly linked to the post election violence.

But why do Gema and PNU-leaning politicians loathe Ruto? The man is one of the brains behind the Orange Movement that would later transformed into the political party that won the 2007 election in Kenya. An astute team player, Ruto would later help strike a regional deal to solidify the Western Kenya Alliance of Luhya, Kalenjin and Luo communities in ODM while solidifying Coast and North Eastern regions to the surprise of many a political pundit.

Ruto is widely perceived by GEMA (Gikuyu, Embu, Meru) hardliners as a representation of a resurgence and virulent independence of an ill-perceived Kalenjin hegemony and a quest to establish an autonomous Western Kenya jimbo, which, according to them, will engage in the business of driving away non-indigenous communities (read Kikuyu) from parts of Rift Valley. He is feared, in fact loathed. This does not wash; not in Rift Valley. The people of Rift Valley see a leader they trust.

The Mt. Kenya Mafia planned to use former President Moi in the Kibaki 2007 re-election campaigns to marshal the rich vote-basket Rift Valley for the bandit president. It was a tragedy. William Ruto, the ODM pointman of the Rift Valley held a mammoth rally in Moi’s Kabarnet backyard where he engaged him in a barrage of slur. Mzee Moi has never recovered from the humiliation he faced. Ruto led a strong campaign against Moi’s three sons Gideon Moi, Jonathan Toroitich and Raymond Moi and his protege, John Lokorio, who were contesting for parliamentary seats in Koibatek and Baringo districts. They all lost. Moi’s attempt to reach out to the people of Rift Valley to support Kibaki was met with rage and fervent resistance, with the province instead throwing its weight behind Mr Ruto.

The man was also in charge of the troops that fell the Goliath of Keiyo South Nicholas Biwott. The GEMA operatives then shifted their base to Bomet, Kericho and Nandi, hiring crowds to attend PNU rallies using Kalenjiin traitors Salat, Sang, Kimeto, Tarus and Barngetuny. They were shocked at the stanch and following ODM enjoyed from the community. By December 27, Ruto had rendered Moi permanently irrelevant in Rift Valley politics. Moi now spends most of his time in hospitals. The last time I heard of him he was seeing Dr. Silverstein, after spending weeks in Germany in the winter.

When parliament was summoned by bandit Kibaki, Ruto treated the house to brave theatrics which have only been a preserve of lawyers. In the ensuing stalemate following the stolen presidency, Ruto was conscripted to provide bedrock support at the mediation. Even after a sub-committee was constituted to fine-tune a power-sharing arrangement, ODM did not flood the team with lawyers as did PNU. Ruto, a peace-maker and strategist was in the core team that is driving the details of a transitional power-sharing pending proper elections.

And as the talks edge towards conclusion, it is becoming clear that power sharing is the only option out of the deadlock. Who knows who Raila Odinga may pick for the post of Prime Minister to fight the ‘wars’ in the House as he consolidates his troops for a grand election without the black-and-blue President Kibaki who many think may not be contesting for the presidency in two years? Watch this space.

Unfortunate attempts have been made to link Mr Ruto to an unfortunate torching of a Church in his Eldoret North Constituency. In fact PNU has attempted to link the key leaders of the ODM party to the mayhem in the country. That violence was spontaneous and it was reported in other places. If those who claim that Ruto organized the arson in Eldoret were sincere, what would they say about the Mungiki arson of 20 Luos in Naivasha? Were they funded by the area Kanu-MP, Hon. John Michael Njenga Mututho?

Ruto represents the future of Kalenjiin leadership and to attempt to link him to genocide is an attempt to drag the whole community into a needless strife with the illegitimate regime of Mwai Kibaki. The Kalenjiin will not take it lying down.