Kenya: Elders Lay Ground for William Ruto's Crowning as Kalenjin Kingpin

Preparations are in top gear for the coronation of Deputy President William Ruto as the Rift Valley kingpin by the Kalenjin Myoot Council of Elders, setting the stage for a bruising fight with his political nemesis Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

The Myoot Council, the umbrella body of elders' councils for all the 10 sub-tribes of Kalenjin -- Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen, Marakwet, Keiyo, Pokot, Sabaot, Cherang'any, Ogiek and Terik and also makes major decisions on the community's leadership, had sanctioned DP Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta early this year, dashing hopes for the Baringo senator.

Plans began by the Talai Council of Elders -- the descendants of Nandi legendary leader Koitalel Samoei known to offer blessings and guidance to individuals, including politicians either seeking or holding high positions in the society -- to crown the second-in-command to lead the community in high political stakes.

In late January, months after the Talai crowned Dr Ruto, Mr Moi also underwent coronation by a splinter group led by the embattled council's vice-chairman Christopher Koyogi outside Kapsisiywa, the ancestral home of the Talai, an event declared inconsequential by Mr James Bassy, the Talai chairperson.

Once a leader has been blessed to eye higher office like what was done to Dr Ruto, Mr Bassy insists, it can never be repeated even if some individuals are not happy with it.

Mr Bassy defended the coronation of the DP, arguing that it had been backed by all the five sub-clans of the Talai -- Kapturgat, Kapsonet, Kapsogon, Kapmursoi and Kapchesang.

Yesterday, the Nation learnt that after the country's second-in-command undergoing the process and even being identified by the Myoot, plans for the 10 sub-tribes of the Kalenjin to crown him were now all set.

The Myoot began the preparations for the installation of the DP as the region's political kingpin by installing the council's chairperson, Mr Benjamin Kitur.

Mr Kitur yesterday told the Nation that after being endorsed by the elders from the 10 sub-tribes, he has embarked on the process of the coronation to be done immediately President Uhuru Kenyatta lifts the ban on political gatherings.

Political spokesperson

"At the moment, preparations are in top gear to perform coronation for the DP, a similar one to what was done to Speaker Justin Muturi recently... .as elders from the Kalenjin community, we have all agreed that we have to crown Ruto as our political spokesperson," Mr Kitur disclosed.

According to the Myoot chairman, the coronation of Dr Ruto could have taken place, but Covid-19 is prolonging the process. He disclosed that it will take place in public at Sports Club Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

Gideon Moi coronation that never was

"Ruto's coronation will be a public event. We won't do it secretly because everybody in Rift Valley knows that he is the political kingpin ... immediately the Covid-19 cases go down, we will do it because at the moment, it is not good to be at loggerheads with the government. We are continuing with preparations," said the Myoot elder.

DP Ruto will be adorned with the sacred community leadership regalia Sambut, Kuutwet, Sharit and Rungut, which makes him the kingpin of the Kalenjin nation.

A source within the Council revealed to the Nation that tentatively, the ceremony is to be held at the end of next month.

The Council led by their chairman Mr Kitur said the endorsement of DP Ruto was reached after wide consultations involving all the chairmen of the 10 Kalenjin subtribes.

"A number of factors are being considered before reaching a consensus on who should be the community's political kingpin," said Mr Kitur.

Among the factors which the elders consider, include: political seniority, popularity from other ethnic communities, development record spanning a number of years.

According to the elders, Dr Ruto has been in politics since reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1992 unlike Senator Moi, who came into political limelight after his father late President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi retired from active politics.

"There is no behind-the-scenes lobbying and the decision is arrived at after a lengthy consultation within the council. We deliberated on this matter the entire night early this year and the 10 of us reached a consensus that Gideon should wait," Mr Kitur argued.

He went on: "There has been push and pull since 2016 to date, on who should be Kalenjin's spokesperson. As community elders, we have taken this matter seriously and settled on DP Ruto, since he is capable of uniting us with other Kenyans and contest for the presidency."

Mr Kitur asked Mr Moi to wait until 2032 to be crowned as the community's political spokesperson.

"Everyone has agreed that it is Ruto, therefore, Gideon, who is also our son, will have to wait until 2032 ... we are requesting our people to rally behind the elders' decision," he said.

According to Mr John Seii, the council's former chairman, the Baringo senator cannot draw support from other communities to enable the Kalenjin community clinch the presidency next year.

Maj (Rtd) Seii argues that Senator Moi has been depending on his late father's political capital, but on his own, the younger Moi is still green politically.

"Everyone knows that if the Kalenjin community fields two candidates, they will not succeed and in this case, Gideon will be the spoiler because he has been using his father's image but he cannot sell himself politically," he added.

His sentiments were echoed by the council's Uasin Gishu coordinator, Mr John Yego, who said leaders have to unite for the sake of Dr Ruto's State House quest.

"Our concern at the moment as elders from Rift Valley is to see all the leaders from the region in the same boat that will sail the DP to the State House come 2022. All the leaders from the region must ensure that they are united for the betterment of our people," said Mr Yego.

"Rift Valley council of elders are appreciating the government for the recognition of culture in all communities, now that we have endorsed Kitur as our chairman, we have embarked on arrangements to inaugurate DP Ruto to be spokesperson of the community and it will be done by elders of the 10 sub-tribes of the Kalenjin, who are above 65 years old, and not politicians," he added.

For the past 10 years, the DP has run the show in the region, pushing Mr Moi, the Kanu chairman, to the periphery, but the recent political changes nationally spearheaded by President Kenyatta have elevated the senator and given him more influence in regional politics.

However, the younger Moi's political resurgence has continued to dwindle after Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), led by the former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto declared support for the DP's presidential quest, leaving him with only vocal lawmaker Tiaty MP William Chepkut and Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat.

But Mr Salat, an ally of the senator, had said the coronation of the younger Moi by the Talai was part of laying the foundation for their political ambitions.

"It is now a done deal, we are now done with the cultural part despite road blocks placed on us and we are now moving to other important issues. As far as we are concerned, in the Rift valley region, we now have two 'bulls', like other regions. We have two leaders from two different political parties with different ideologies ... We are not forcing leadership like others," he said.

"We respect the Myoot elders' decision but we also want to tell them to also respect other entities, they will not be on the ballot but it is the voters who will determine the next leaders. With the blessings, this shows that we are now serious and lays the foundation for greater issues," added Mr Salat.

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