KANYANGO GITHAE: The making of Gachagua as Mt Kenya kingpin

He ultimately wrestled the region from Uhuru's grip

In Summary
  • Rigathi's selection after a protracted battle that saw him lose the vote but not the position speaks to a man with a lethal political eye and an outright schemer.
  • Although initially seen as a liability to Ruto's candidature, Gachagua quickly became the face of defiance against former president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
AGIKUYU THRONE: Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
Image: FILE

The idea of having Rigathi Gachagua as a running mate for the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate was far fetched.

His name was one that was distant in the minds of many until the final days.

Gachagua's selection after a protracted battle that saw him lose the vote but not the position, speaks to a man with a lethal political eye and an outright schemer.

Although initially seen as a liability to the candidature of then deputy president, President William Ruto, Rigathi quickly became the face of defiance against former president Uhuru Kenyatta, especially in the Mt Kenya region.

He ultimately wrestled the region from Uhuru's grip.

The seed of defiance was so established that Ruto got four times the number of votes that Uhuru's preferred candidate Raila Odinga got at his polling station in Mutomo Primary School.

With deep pockets combined with a controversial eloquence that is celebrated and hated in equal measure, Gachagua established himself as a kingpin of sorts when the region was staring at a crisis.

Upon the successful election and subsequent assumption of office, Gachagua used his first speech as deputy president to announce his arrival at the high table.

Choosing to go after the former regime and engaging in what many referred to as an unnecessary political offensive, in the presence of guests, was a clear statement that there was a new kid in the Mt Kenya bloc.

His words on September 13, 2022 have been the saving grace for the administration.

In essence, Gachagua laid a foundation upon which the administration has ably used to explain its way out of the inconsistent timelines for delivery, as had been promised in their manifesto during campaigns.

His consistency in speech and deed has established him as a truth-teller and validated his own words, used to describe himself during the presidential debate that he is a truthful man.

Kenyans nowadays refer to him as "The truthful men" in concurrence that he does not shy away from speaking his mind and in the process brewing controversies.

Whereas the President has adopted a rather statelier approach in his speech, the deputy president has kept tongues wagging as he maintains the political tone, which he keeps modifying as time and occasion demand.

His rise in stature as a national figure is undeniable. His consistent presence and being the talk of the town across media platforms even when he does not utter a word for weeks, is a testament to his growing popularity.

Back in the mountain, his continued national rise is creating a figure, not just the most senior political leader of the community, but also the community's spokesman and kingpin.

This albeit the undeniable presence of a few dissenting voices, similar to what President Ruto has had to endure in Rift Valley.

His recent spat with Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja over plans to remove matatus from the CBD and the forceful closure of clubs in the city would not have come at a better time.

This was made even better by the fact that it came about over the Christmas holidays, when there are few other competing political activities allowing the spat to enjoy national attention.

Further threats of his impeachment by Bumula MP Jack Wamboka among other Western Kenya leaders is in sort an admission of their recognition of the fact that Gachagua is now the leader of the Mt Kenya region.

It is also essentially a blessing in disguise for the deputy president, as his place as the community leader and defender got entrenched in the region.

While Sakaja saw it fit to respond to the deputy president and even went further to rally Western Kenya to speak in his defence, Gachagua in his wisdom chose to let the matter take a life of its own.

He only came to respond to the spat late in the day and by speaking to the hearts of the people of the Mt Kenya region, in the language they best understand, during his interview with a Kikuyu vernacular tv station.

In the interview, he oozed another wisdom explaining that his interest is not just being the Mt Kenya kingpin but ensuring the people of Mt Kenya are economically stable.

Gachagua said he is focusing on improving the returns of farmers in the tea, coffee and dairy subsectors by kicking out cartels.

It's important to note that business, tea, coffee and milk offer the largest chunk of economic activities in the region.

His emergence as the face of these sectors of the economy will further enhance his place at the top of the community.

But Gachagua's greatest power it would seem will come from his open love for young people and his desire to offer mentorship for the changemakers.

This is something that has been missing not just in the Kikuyu community but nationally.

His Riggy G nickname is taking the country by storm and bringing out his humane side.

And if he walks the talk, more youth will find it easy to get behind him and no politician, the deputy president being one, would not want to enjoy the support of the youth who are the single largest constituency in the country.

The reality is, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is the man to watch.

He is no longer a person to ignore, his personal touch with the ground, his unrivalled style of airing the sentiments of the ordinary mwananchi and his attention to detail will only propel him higher.


Kanyango Githae is a digital strategist and political commentator.

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