This is an open letter to Deputy President William Ruto, the man from Sugoi. We aren’t BFF’s, the colloquialism for Best Friends Forever. But we are fellow Kenyans. And you are an influential man. As such, I feel obliged to offer you some unsolicited advice. Take it for whatever it’s worth. I promise you won’t be disappointed because there’s a nugget, or two, of wisdom.
Most of your supporters think I am an incorrigible fellow, a devil of a hater bent on grounding your 2022 wings. Ignore them for now. That’s because for once — this once — I am driven purely by Christian instincts. I don’t know what will happen in 2022, but I know what won’t happen if you don’t listen.
I know you’ve read the 48 Laws of Power, the 1998 self-help book by American author Robert Greene. If you haven’t, I suggest you get it pronto and digest it cover to cover. Better yet, commit the damn book to memory. You may not want to read the book in public. That’s because the book is a best seller among prison inmates in the United States although celebrities love it. The bathroom is a good place to read it the way I read Mao’s Little Red Book in high school for fear that Jomo Kenyatta’s — and later Daniel arap Moi’s — goons would find and hang me for it. It was a rare guilty pleasure in a repressive country.
Remember that the 48 Laws of Power has been banned in many American prisons. That’s because the book is subversive. But not of regimes. Rather it subverts the mind and makes the reader a calculating SOB, which roughly translates to “son of a gun.” You will find that the book speaks to your inner ambitions. It’s as though the book was written for you.
The book is addressed primarily to those who seek power, and are addicted to it. It’s meant to separate garden variety power-seekers from the crème de la crème. I have observed you for decades. Your ambition can only be topped by the great Mount Olympus.
In fact, I would say no politician in Kenya — none — is more politically ambitious than you. Look, for example, you were given a doctorate in plant anatomy or soil science. I can’t remember which. But I say “given” because as one who has supervised doctoral candidates, I doubt a deputy president — one with a breathless calendar schedule — has adequate time for the rigour of a doctorate.
But I digress. The point is that you must have thought a doctorate puts you a cut above your political competition. In other words, there’s no length to which you won’t go to vanquish your enemies and opponents, real or imagined. You are going for broke and leaving nothing to chance for 2022.
The pursuit of your doctorate is a textbook application of the 48 Laws of Power. But if you’ve read the book, you have failed to internalise it in other respects. Law 1, for example, instructs you “never to outshine your master.” This is the most cardinal of all sins. Even penance before a priest cannot absolve you from liability. That’s why it befuddles me why you keep outshining your boss, Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta. Are you on a kamikaze mission? I advise you to cease and desist, like yesterday. Law 3 tells you to conceal your intentions. But instead what have you done but shout from the rooftops that you will become president whether Mr Kenyatta likes it, or not.
There’s more. Law 22 advises you to use surrender as a weapon. In other words, transform your weakness into power. Instead you are daily inflating and beating your chest like King Kong. Law 24 says you should play the perfect courtier, the way your mentor Mr Moi did under Mzee Kenyatta. But I guess you are too know-it-all and precocious to make yourself invisible. Law 48 asks you to assume formlessness. But you want to be visible every day. You’ve made yourself a target. That’s foolish. Your problem may be the courtiers who surround you. They are yes-men/women. These flaks can’t survive without your patronage. You need advisers who don’t kowtow to, or need, you. Clean out your stable.
I have saved the best for last. All your 2022 dreams — if you will ever sleep in State House — depend on Law 35. I say this because you’ve been unable to execute on all the other laws in the book. I am giving you an F grade. But Law 35 can change everything for you. It’s your eureka. That law provides that you must be a “master of the art of timing.” It will cure all your violations. This is how — resign from government abruptly and without warning. Your timing should be a thunderbolt to paralyse Mr Kenyatta, confound ODM’s Raila Odinga, neutralise BBI, and maximise your exit.
Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC. @makaumutua