Most presidential campaigns are long on propagandistic slogans and short on policy. Candidates often sell snake oil or empty head fakes to gullible electorates.
In Kenya, there hasn’t been a more fraud than the so-called “Hustler Nation”. However, the most cunning catchphrases turn a brazen lie into an ostensible truth. It’s all in the clever, sleight-of-hand branding. That’s why today I’ll deconstruct and debunk the fictional mythical Hustler Nation.
DP Ruto is a man with a messianic complex. The “Hustler Nation” narrative sits at the centre of that psychosis. Ever since he burst on the national political scene with the dreaded Youth for KANU ’92 (YK’92), Mr. Ruto has sought to build a cult of personality. Outwardly, he’s laboured to create an image of a master strategist, an everyman’s populist and a holier-than-thou man of God.
I’ve often wondered why he didn’t just become a priest if he was a man of such deep faith. Mr. Ruto knows if you wrap yourself in the Church and shout biblical verses from the rooftops an impressionable Kenyan electorate will overlook your warts.
Let’s dig deeper. The word “hustler” – if you go by the educated dictionary’s meaning – is seedy, a language of infamy. It could mean a “fraudster”, “thief”, “male prostitute”, “conman”, “swindler”, “liar” and “cheat”, among other disreputable terms. It’s a word with which no decent human being wants to describe their relative, or friend.
In fact, an upright person wants to run in the opposite direction at the mere mention of the word. Paradoxically, Mr. Ruto and his legion of political simpletons have widely embraced the term. They call themselves the ‘Hustler Nation’. However, it’s all bunk.
In Mr. Ruto’s fertile imagination, the ‘Hustler Nation’ is poised to sweep the political “dynasties” into the ocean in 2022. I’ll give him this many hapless pedestrians have drunk the Kool-Aid. The state tells you not to believe your lying eyes. It creates an alternate universe where your repression is seemingly unreal and fictitious.
Except it isn’t. In misappropriating the term “Hustler Nation”, Mr. Ruto is constructing a myth, a seductive phantom, to remake his image. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if we were to buy Mr. Ruto’s twisted web of lies, then he is nothing but the political scion.
Much has been made of Mr. Ruto’s massive wealth. Even as he gives destitute and hungry Jua Kali artisans a wheelbarrow, a hair dryer, or buys a roadside folding picking table from struggling fundis for public relations gimmickry, Mr. Ruto himself lives like a king. He’s driven in the most expensive personal cars and flies in multiple state-of-the art personal helicopters.
He reportedly has a helipad at his Sugoi mansion. It’s not clear how Mr. Ruto acquired all these gargantuan riches. He owns several hotels, including the Weston Hotel, which is under litigation because he built it on illegally acquired land.
On several TV programmes, including BBC’s Hard Talk, Mr. Ruto couldn’t explain the source of his enormous wealth. He donates unexplained millions to churches. I don’t know where Mr. Ruto got his wealth, or whether he’s stolen a single cent. However, the whiff of reported scandal upon scandal dogs him everywhere.
I know this – a true hustler would steal billions from the poor public and then try to convince those same poor masses that he and they are fellow “hustlers”. This is in a hustler’s DNA everywhere on earth. If Mr. Ruto’s followers are the “Hustler Nation”, then he’s the wrong leader because he’s no “hustler”.