The Wheelbarrow Debate

These are strange times, and it is quite shocking to see a deputy president going against his own government.

The Wheelbarrow Debate
William Ruto wishes to give Kenyan youths wheelbarrows to help themselves. Source: BBC.

The right honorable, former prime minister, Raila Odinga, did not mince his words when he referred to his excellency, the deputy president, William Ruto’s offering of wheelbarrows to the youth as ‘taka taka’ or trash. Raila Odinga has had quite the influence in the government of the day owing to his March 2018 ‘handshake’ with President Uhuru Kenyatta. He has been an insider of the government while at the same time the leader of the opposition.

Raila Odinga is the head of the Orange Democratic Movement, ODM, and has become the de facto second in command in the country’s leadership. As you can imagine, William Ruto is enraged by the closeness of Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. As a result, Ruto has also become the de facto leader of the opposition after breaking off from the Jubilee Party and the president with whom he was elected the deputy president of the Republic of Kenya.

Strange Times These

These are strange times, and it is quite shocking to see a deputy president going against his own government. William Ruto has since the handshake been a staunch opposer of the actions and standpoints of the president and his now right-hand man, Raila Odinga. The debacle has become so heated that both Ruto and Raila have had scuffles with the youth where they have been chased away from various public gatherings where stones were thrown at them.

In living memory, the only time leaders were thrown stones at was when the late former president Daniel Moi was about to leave office when mud was hauled at him at a public meeting. Things have gotten even worse with the unveiling of the Building Bridges Initiative or BBI, a constitutional reform push and referendum seeking to amend the pristine 2010 constitution. Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta are key proponents, while William Ruto is the head opponent of the BBI.

Uhuru Kenyatta's Right Hand Man

William Ruto has grown in influence over the years and was for one and a half terms the president’s right-hand man. They walked and talked in unison and went as far as donning resembling ties and outfits to sell their unity and agenda. However, like in all ‘marriages,’ sometimes things go to the dogs. The two are now in a sort of unwanted political ‘marriage’ after Raila Odinga joined the union, uninvited for Ruto willfully invited for Uhuru Kenyatta.

The BBI has been quite the bombshell for the political scene. It has added another layer of temperatures on top of the current political temperatures due to the oncoming 2022 general elections and electioneering period. The president refers to himself as a ‘Simba’ or lion and says that even though the lion may be rained on, it should not be mistaken for a cat. On the other hand, William Ruto has been firing up his base of supporters and has for some time now been on the campaign trail seeking the president’s seat in the 2022 presidential election.

The 'Hustler Movement' Agenda

Ruto sells his agenda under the ‘hustler movement’ to galvanize the youth to support his bid for the presidential seat come 2022. The ‘hustler‘ narrative is intended to connect with and speak to the Kenyan people, especially the youth who have for decades now faced widespread unemployment and a lack of opportunities.

Ruto has been carrying out ‘development’ projects in this movement that include handing out wheelbarrows to the youth, motorcycles, water tanks, and other items. There have also been donations to churches, women, and youth groups that were some time back criticized as sourced from embezzled funds from public coffers. The ‘hustler‘ movement has also grown. It has led to the creation of the United Democratic Alliance or UDA party, which seems likely to be Ruto’s political vehicle of choice come the 2022 general election.

Odinga's Push for the BBI

On the other hand, Raila Odinga has been seeking to popularize the BBI and destabilize Ruto’s 2022 election bid. These efforts have included politically denouncing the ‘hustler‘ movement and narrative and launching staunch opposition to Ruto’s political moves. Raila Odinga is a seasoned politician and, in my view, has quite a worthy opponent in William Ruto.

The two are bulls fighting for the highest seat in the land, and we, like the grass, should be very keen not to be carried away by the political rhetoric. In wisdom, as Kenyan citizens, we should distance ourselves from political bigotry, incitement, and political violence. We should be aware that these leaders are only fending for themselves and not really looking to help us fend for ourselves. They gobble up billions of taxpayers’ money and still expect taxpayers to hand them political seats where they can corrupt their supporters and subordinates to steal from the people.

"Nobody Can Stop Reggae"

The BBI also termed ‘reggae,’ is only another attempt to create political mileage for various leaders. It is encapsulated as a good thing for the country and has been presented with much chest-thumping with statements like ‘nobody can stop reggae.’ However, what political leaders don’t realize is that this country is coming of age. More and more people are educated, and very few will even take political rhetoric seriously.

We are a united, democratic, and peaceful country, and nobody can change that. A few may be brainwashed to become fanatical, but most will know that all this is just political nonsense. It is all a ruse created to position a few key individuals to hold seats in government and consolidate power. The ‘reggae‘ is just a sleight of hand created to fool fools. The same can be said for the wheelbarrow debate.

Does it Really Make Sense to Offer the Youth of Kenya Wheelbarrows?

Does it really make sense to offer unemployed graduates wheelbarrows? I mean, to do construction or what? Graduates need jobs, not little gestures of political nonsense. If the government really cared for the plight of the unemployed, then graduates offered government internships would be automatically absorbed as full-fledged employees.

It is quite shocking to see the deputy president criticize his own government for not offering laptops to school children when he was at the forefront of selling the laptops narrative. How can you tarnish your own house? A house that you built and now don’t want to live in? Kenyans know better, I assure you.