Deputy President William Rutosaid there is no individual or community that owes him any debt to make him Kenya’s fifth President.
By making this denouncement, Ruto ended a huge controversy between the pro-Ruto side claiming the Kikuyu owed him a debt for supporting Uhuru Kenyatta and another anti-Ruto side saying Central Kenya did not owe him. The latter argued Ruto would have already served for 10 years as Uhuru Kenyatta’s deputy.
The claim by the Kalenjin elite that the Kikuyu owe a political debt to Ruto has been particularly strong in the Rift Valley, which they say voted more for Uhuru than Mt Kenya region. This debt is now called deni ya hisani or the “debt of gratitude”, and its repayment by the Kikuyu could only come from a presidential victory for Ruto, whose defeat in 2022 could trigger a repeat of another ethnic crisis as we had in 2007-08.
For this debt to be repaid, Ruto would first need to be given the Jubilee ticket, which can only be guaranteed by an internal party dictatorship that must be instituted to ensure his smooth ascendancy.
In the event Ruto fails, it would be assumed the Kikuyus have failed and betrayed Ruto and this may trigger their eviction from the Rift Valley for their ingratitude.
The fears of this backlash would make the next election, not an exercise in freedom by the Kikuyu and Kenyans to choose a leader of their own choice but an imposition of blackmail upon the community forcing it to vote for Ruto willy-nilly or face consequences of either eviction or war.
Because of this debt of gratitude, the Kikuyu council of elders in Eldoret has asked Kikuyus living in the Mt. Kenya region not to give the impression of abandoning Ruto in fear of reprisals against Kikuyus in Rift Valley as we have seen before. Unfortunately, this political blackmail runs counter to the claim by Uhuru and Ruto that one of the reasons they came together was to guarantee that “never again” would a Kenyan suffer or be killed for their political views or the way they vote, same rationale Raila Odingaand Uhuru have gave for the March 9 handshake.
Unfortunately, this guarantee of electoral freedom in the Rift Valley can only be ensured by Ruto with his sway over the Kalenjin, Uhuru over the Kikuyu, Raila over the Luo, Kalonzo Musyoka over the Kamba and Musalia Mudavadi over the Luhya. But that’s not politics of principle and honour. And last week Ruto and his Team Tangatanga were back to disowning Ruto’s denouncement of the Kikuyu’s supposed debt of gratitude to him, meaning the Kikuyus in the Rift Valley must vote for him or else…
In addition, political reality of negative ethnicity over the minds of Kenyan communities has already forced Uhuru and Raila to include unification of the country by eradicating negative ethnicity and corruption, not only as essence of handshake but also as inevitable enablers of Uhuru’s Big Four agenda.
Though Ruto’s denouncement of political debt that Tangatanga Team propagates was a big relief to Kikuyu voters, its resumption by is a heavy Sword of Damocles over the head of the Kikuyu community. Yet no one can seek the presidency by balkanizing Kenyans into ethnic enclaves that are forever result in antagonistic elections. In fact, leaders such as Ruto, Uhuru and Raila will not claim to unite the country while keeping their ethnic rather than national identification the country needs so much. Surprisingly, Ruto acknowledges good leadership as necessary for the country.
Much as I thank Ruto for denouncing political debt, I cannot help wonder what he and his supporters think he has done to deserve the lion’s share of Kenya’s top leadership after the one-party rule. In addition to the 10 years as DP, he will also serve as President for another 10. That’s a whole 20 years of power, only four years short of Moi’s 24 as president? Does this make sense?