Facts don’t lie: History doesn’t recognise Ruto as a reformist
The history of the struggle against imperialism, authoritarianism and intolerance is well inscribed for generations of Kenyans to read and learn. The beauty of correctly recorded history is that it is a collection of facts. Facts are stubborn and can be annoying and frustrating for those who wish to edit them into a narrative that is convenient for them.
A clip making rounds on the social streets of Deputy President William Ruto claiming to have fought against an imperial presidency for three decades is comical at best. Taken more seriously, one may get irritated.
The said struggle gained momentum in the 1980s when the regime made Kenya a de jure one-party state. The agitation for constitutional change was spearheaded by the opposition figures such as Kennedy Matiba, Oginga Odinga, Charles Rubia, and young turks of the time such as Raila Odinga, James Orengo, Kiraitu Murungi and Martha Karua.
The real fighters were imprisoned, exiled and tortured by the ruling regime. Today, they do not even have to say a word, history speaks well for them. Notably, the likes of Orengo were in the University when they started agitating for political change. Essentially, such students were the face of opposition politics agitating for better governance and civil rights.
The climax of the struggle for the re-introduction of multi-party democracy was in 1991 when then-President Moi caved in to pressure and allowed the repeal of Section 2A of the Constitution, which effectively made Kenya a multi-party democracy. Up until this time, Ruto, a university student, had not been heard of in national politics.
It is only known that he met Moi while in the university and became a young ally of the president. It would be correct to conclude that he must have been tasked with doing the regime’s bidding among university students, albeit silently since nothing much is recorded of him politically before 1992.
Note, while varsity students of his time pride themselves on having fought for a revolution in the governance system, Ruto was a friend of the regime. You doubt?
Following the repealing of the Section 2A, the first multi-party election was scheduled for December 29, 1992. Needless to say, following a decade of aggression, to which the State responded with arrests, detention without trial, torture and exiling, it was not popular among the voter.
Liberation heroes wanted him out of power and Kenyans were eager to back that clarion call through the ballot. It is credibly reported for the first time, that Moi, the self-styled professor of politics was uneasy. All pointers showed he was going to lose the election. It was at this juncture that the Youth for Kanu (YK92), was formed in 1992.
The group, led by Cyrus Jirongo as chair and Ruto as treasurer, was tasked with rallying support for Kanu and Moi, whose grip on power was facing a threat from the charged crowd of liberation champions.
With unlimited resources from the State, Ruto and the company took advantage of the plight of unemployed youths, making huge donations and promising them a change of governance from within Kanu, without leadership change.
They promised job opportunities and better policies. All this, to keep the oppressive regime in power. Sounds similar to the “hustler” narrative of today.
Ruto suggesting he is a reformist must be one of the most offensive jokes of the century. Ruto as a reformist can only be featured in a very hilarious comedy show.
— The writer is a social commentator based in Nairobi