The humorous side of Kenyans is intact despite the economic rough patch.
The politics of sons and fathers — Father Moi, Son Gideon, and the ‘other son’ William Ruto — is the butt of humour, with biblical allusions. The Deputy President came close to the grandmaster for a photo opportunity in Kabarak on May 3, but he missed the way.
Later, a Bible-reading observer cited John 14:6: “Gideon Moi has this evening sent William Ruto a Bible verse, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”
Another observer took a historical route. Ruto may have been a Bible-carrying Christian Union member, and a regular at Ufungamano, where CU members at the University of Nairobi met, but he misses something from the Holy Book.
Jesus talked of himself as the Way to the Father during his final days on earth with his disciples. He wanted the disciples, especially the doubting Thomas and Philip, to understand His mission. Jesus was preparing the disciples for the coming betrayal. The biblical allusion in the Ruto-Gideon matter is heresy, but the analogy makes the point about the missed handshake.
It is unlikely former President Moi would refuse to meet Ruto after the DP travelled from Nairobi to Kabarak. Moi had a date with his doctor at the time. Someone was shepherding Ruto on a blind date. The broker embarrassed the DP, while insinuating Moi refused to meet his son’s presidential ambition mate.
President Moi and some of the people who worked with him respect appointments. They know the value of time, and they respect people. A former minister in the Moi government, Simeon Nyachae, is one such person.
I had more than 50 appointments with Mzee Nyachae between 1997 and 2002. Each of the appointments was honoured. At times Nyachae would personally usher you in, to make you feel welcome.
On one occasion, he was at the entrance of his Riverside office, with an umbrella, waiting for the visitor. Such is the discipline and decorum of leaders of Nyachae’s calibre. When he had an earlier appointment running into your hour, he would tell the secretary to set you up in another room. There were newspapers, and coffee, while you waited.
If, by chance, which was rare, he would not be in for the appointment, Nyachae would call to reschedule. Sometimes he did this through his secretary, or his decorous wife, business partner, and confidante Grace Nyachae. (Quick recovery for Mzee Nyachae, who is in Britain for treatment)
My worst appointment was with a vocal leader with offices near the Nairobi Club. The man gave an appointment at 5.30am. On arrival I found 10 other people, with a sleepy and moody receptionist behind the desk.
After he talked to three people, the host came out at 6am to announce he had been called for an ‘urgent’ meeting. “Kendo, I shall have my PA call you later today, so we can meet over lunch,” he said.
Another flopped appointment was with former Environment CS Judi Wakhungu, through her PA, who was her brother. “You shall be notified as soon as the CS has time.” Prof Wakhungu left office, four years later, without finding time to discuss an environmental crisis that still begs ministerial leadership.
Gideon is Moi’s biological, blue-eyed boy, but Ruto is the former President’s political son. Ruto learnt Moi’s ways from close range — as a party activist, MP, assistant minister, and minister in the Kanu regime. But Ruto was not merely concerned with observing Moi’s ways, he was doing so with an eye on the future. Which is how Ruto fled with Gideon’s ‘birthright’. Those who know Ruto well say he knows how to ‘treat’ vulnerable choristers.
The enduring lesson Ruto took from Moi is the politics of the carrot, bait and hook, which the DP dangles with the keenness of a confident gambler.