16 May 2019

Kenya: Change of Fortune for Turkana Family as Ruto Lands in Remote Village


Members of a family in Turkana West were shocked to see a chopper land in their compound on Monday, and before they could hide, a number of uninvited guests walked boldly towards them.

They stood still and let fate decide what was next, and soon they learned that a powerful government official had landed on their laps, in the remote Nayane Aroo area of Loitiki Plains where just a few people live.

After the preliminaries, they were informed that they were the unplanned hosts of Deputy President William Ruto, but they asked who he was.

Local leaders led by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and MP Daniel Epuyo, who had accompanied the DP, quickly informed them that he was Kenya's second-in-command.


The family could speak or understand neither English or Kiswahili so the MP was the interpreter in the meeting.

Pictures taken at the house showed naked children clinging onto their parents as the DP tried to strike a conversation with them.

After a while they appeared to warm up to him as they were pictured smiling.

The photos have since attracted praise and vitriol in equal measure on social media, with most people wondering why the DP comfortably interacted with naked children who appeared hungry.

Some questioned whether it was another stage-managed occasion normally associated with attention-seeking politicians.


Mr Epuyo said on Thursday that the visit was unplanned and only took place as a curious Dr Ruto noticed isolated huts while departing from a function in the constituency.

The DP asked if he could find out who lived there.

The family was later identified as that of Mr Lowoos Ekebe and a neighbour only identified as Mr Ekomolo.

"We flew over Lotikipi plains in Turkana West, our main activity in the morning. In the middle of the plains, we saw some families that captured the DP's interest," Mr Epuyo explained.

"We asked them how they lived, where they got water for domestic use, where they bought food and whether the children went to school."

Regarding the pictures, Mr Epuyo said that those viewing them negatively were ignorant.


The legislator said the main reason they visited the remote area was for Dr Ruto to appreciate the expansiveness of the Lotikipi aquifer and support allocation of more resources to the establishment of a water reservoir.

He said they informed the DP of the community's challenges.

"The Deputy President saw for himself that there was arable land that only required irrigation to be productive," he said.

He added, "There should be more boreholes for the hundreds of residents in this region because the whole aquifer has only one that is relied on in testing water quality."

The DP toured the country for three days, launching projects and promising more.

He gave the family an unknown amount of money and ordered the Rift Valley Water Services Board to immediately drill three boreholes in the area.

He also promised the residents a school after learning that the nearest one was kilometres away.


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