Current Kenyan politics has been dominated by three big names; Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. However, to their most ardent followers, they don’t go by these names. Instead, they go by informal names which their followers use.
Surprisingly, however, most of these people don’t know the origin, or even the meaning of these names.
Sam seitz, a political scientist, says that one of the greatest assets one can have in politics is predictability. Not everyone has to know your strategy, but let everyone know your tactic. It reduces the risk of misunderstanding, and increases certainty and confidence among your followers. However, in Raila’s case, he has turned his unpredictability into a strength. His biggest political decisions that continue to shape the country up to date were totally unexpected, and caught everyone flat-footed. From his merger with KANU, to his endorsement of Kibaki, to the now famed handshake. It was with this in mind that Grace Akumu, wife of former COTU Secretary General Denis Akumu gave him the name. Agwambo translates to “unpredictable” or something mysterious.
While most people have always thought that this name alludes to the fact that Uhuru is the last born of Jomo Kenyatta’s children (of which he isn’t- he happens to have younger siblings), the name has actually all to do with the young age which he entered politics at. Kamwana translates to “Young man”.
Uhuru, who was first appointed into government by the late President Moi in his thirties first vied for president in 2020 as a 41 year old. He, however, seemed to reject the name recently, reminding people that he was almost clocking 60.
Of the big three, William Ruto’s nickname is the one that has not only caused much talk, but also baffled people as per its origin and meaning.
Among his followers and admirers, Hustler simply finds its roots from the fact that the DP once sold chickens on the Eldoret highway, having come from a humble background, and had to struggle to chart his way up the ladder.
However, to his critics, he is by no means a hustler but a multibillionaire who owns palatial homes, helicopters and a string of businesses. However, they always add naughtily, if William Ruto is a hustler, then it must be as per the dictionary denotation of the word; a person who gets money through fraudulent or shady methods.