William Samuel Ruto, born in 1966 in Kamagu Tarbo, embarked on a political journey that would eventually propel him to the forefront of Kenyan politics. From humble beginnings in elementary education at Karate Primary School to his undergraduate studies in botany and zoology at the University of Nairobi, Ruto's early life laid the foundation for a compelling political career.
Early Political Involvement:
As Kenya transitioned into multi-party democracy in the early 1990s, Ruto emerged as a dynamic political force. In the run-up to the 1992 general election, he joined the Youth for KANU (YK-92), a lobby group campaigning for President Daniel arap Moi's re-election. Ruto's role as the treasurer within the group provided him with a valuable introduction to the intricacies of Kenya's political landscape.
KANU Leadership and Surprising Political Triumph:
Undeterred by challenges, Ruto ventured into KANU leadership, and in 1997, at the age of 31, he surprised many by defeating the touted candidate to become the Member of Parliament for Eldoret North. This victory drew him closer to President Moi, who subsequently appointed him as KANU's Director of Elections.
Political Shifts and Ministerial Appointments:
In 2002, Ruto threw his support behind Moi's preferred successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, leading to his appointment as Assistant Minister for Home Affairs. Despite Kenyatta's loss in the presidential race, Ruto's political career flourished. In 2005, he was appointed KANU's Secretary General, a position he held for two years. Ruto's political trajectory continued as he actively opposed the new constitution in 2005, aligning himself with a group that believed in a decentralized system of government.
Presidential Aspirations and Party Shifts:
Ruto's ambitions reached new heights in 2006 when he declared his candidacy for the 2007 presidential elections. However, his bid within KANU was dismissed, leading him to join the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Despite finishing third in the party's nomination exercise, Ruto played a crucial role in the birth of the ODM and became its Rift Valley point man.
Ministerial Challenges and ICC Indictment:
Ruto's political journey faced significant challenges during the aftermath of the disputed 2007-2008 elections. Indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in the post-election violence, Ruto's political career hung in the balance. Nevertheless, the charges were dropped in 2016, allowing him to continue his political ascent.
Alliance Formation and Deputy Presidency:
In 2013, Ruto joined forces with Uhuru Kenyatta to form the Jubilee Alliance, securing victory in the presidential election and becoming the first Deputy President under the new constitution. The duo's re-election in 2017 faced a legal setback when the Supreme Court nullified their victory, but they triumphed in the subsequent election.
Strained Alliances and the Handshake:
Ruto's relationship with President Kenyatta faced turbulence when the latter extended an olive branch to ODM leader Raila Odinga through the famous handshake in 2018. This marked a turning point in Kenyan politics, with Ruto navigating the complexities of maintaining alliances while solidifying his stance as a representative of the "Hustler Nation."
William Ruto's political journey is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and strategic maneuvering. From his early days in KANU to the challenges of the ICC indictment, Ruto has weathered political storms. As Kenya navigates its political landscape, Ruto remains a central figure, shaping the narrative of the nation's future. The twists and turns of his journey underscore the dynamic nature of Kenyan politics, where individuals like Ruto play pivotal roles in the ever-evolving political tapestry.
As at the moment of publishing this article, Kenyans are experiencing tough economic times and hicked prices for basic commodities, and high taxes on every product. In his defense, the President says that he is doing so to save Kenyans from future debts by increasing taxes so as to gather enough economic stability for the country.