Friday, December 12, 2008



Pubished on 10/12/2008
By Okech Kendo

Unless Mr William Ruto begins to see himself as a leader likely to be sought out for solutions to this country’s challenges, those who think of him as a future president should begin to reconsider their assessment of his potential.

Volumes of letters to editors and calls to radio talk shows critical of Ruto’s leadership, which is tempered with high-octane emotions, demonstrate that people are beginning to revise their impression of this politician.

Ruto, a new generation politician, is doing the right things the old way. This may have worked for his rivals, but times are changing. Kenyans have shared problems and want shared solutions. Serving ethnic blocks is a thing of the past — or should be.

These are ways the Minister for Agriculture rejected not so long ago, when campaigning for ODM in the language of change. He should not be the one to lead the way back to the past.

The impression is that Ruto is in too much of a hurry to get to the top, by whatever means. He could gain support at home but lose Kenya, which is sad for a would-have-been future leader.

The man who was on the path to acquiring great national stature through personal initiative is on a self-inflicted free-fall. Only one person can reclaim the man who, from an obscure heritage, rose to change the equation of power and political relations in Rift Valley Province. Only William Ruto who can save William Ruto from self-served destruction.

Ruto can stop Ruto threatening to quit every time there is a challenge. Ruto should tell Ruto real leaders do not quit and quitters do not lead. Leaders who quit lose the esteem of those who believed they had a vision. And when quitters lead, they have no road map and lack the capacity to earn the goodwill of any flock. They see supporters as mere stepping-stones to glory.

Tribal Crowd

Kenya suffers today because the people have had to deal with quitters and opportunists with an ‘incitable’ tribal crowd. In his mid-40s, Ruto still has time to reclaim his persona as a leader in good and bad times, in lean times and moments of plenty. He still has a chance to be a leader in times of hope and moments of doubt; a leader for all seasons who can reassure followers.

Ruto has threatened to quit ODM and even Government over the reclamation of the Mau Complex, the implementation of the Waki Report, party leadership issues and now over the maize shortage crisis. Yet the people of Eldoret North, who have elected Ruto as their Member of Parliament for the third time now, expect him to be part of the solutions to their problems. They do not want a quitter that threatens to give up the fight when faced with doubts and challenges.

The very appointment to Cabinet is recognition of leadership ability and the public expects Ruto to be part of the change right-thinking citizens have fought for. Ruto should not quit his party or Government over the Mau issue. He must be part of the solution to the destruction of one of the country’s five water towers, the source of 12 rivers, spread across the entire western Kenya.

These rivers flow into Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest fresh water mass. The Mau also feeds other water masses, including lakes Nakuru and Natron. Tourism in the Rift Valley depends entirely on its health.

To destroy the Mau under the guise of defending intrusive human settlement on a wetland is to connive and be complicit in the destruction of a water tower and ecosystem that has sustained life in this part of the world for generations. This is the lifeline of the expanse of the country to the west of Nairobi, with a population of about eight million. The 15,000 families settled in the Mau can be moved to protect the livelihood of millions more, including the settlers themselves.

A great mobiliser, a budding schemer and an orator of great potential, Ruto is increasingly being associated with tantrums. Most of the time he gives the impression of someone running away from problems, rather than facing them for their value, and finding consensual solutions.

Lately, Ruto has ‘understood’ why the Waki Report should be implemented. It is the country’s only weapon against impunity. To reject it is to advocate business as usual, including stealing elections and expecting the people to acquiesce, subdued forever to live with lies and theft.

English clergyman Charles Colton, who lived between 1780 and 1832, knew what many leaders miss today: "Men are born with two eyes, but only one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say."

Right-thinking citizens of the world wonder why Kenya is regressing even as it counts Barack Obama among its sons. There are many good examples out there: Going back would be absurd.

The writer is The Standard’s Managing Editor, Quality and Production.