An open letter to Kenya President William Ruto by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Photo: Kenya President William Ruto in US President Joe Biden’s chair during their talks at the White house / © AP (L) in collage with Ngugi wa Thiong’o / © Steve Zylius/UCI (R)

Dear William Ruto,

The images of your recent State visit to the USA were very disturbing to me and to every patriotic Kenyan. I saw you seated on a chair, grinning, while Biden stood behind you, his face beaming with satisfaction. Why not? He had just announced that you had signed off our beloved Kenya to make it a non-member ally of NATO.

In other words you had agreed to become Nato’s errand boy in America’s struggle with Russia and China for access to resources of the continent.

Ruto, do you know that Nato, murdered Muammar Gaddafi, so that Libyan oil-fields which Kaddafi had nationalized, would revert to the West? Kaddafi was once the chairman of the African Union of which Kenya was a founding member.

But this other picture was no less disturbing. While you were inside the White House, Haitians were in the streets demonstrating, calling you a slave. Do you know the history of Haiti? Please read The Black Jacobins the book written by a once Jomo Kenyatta Pan African ally, C L R James.

Haiti, now a Black people’s State, used to be a slave colony of France. But led by Toussaint Louverture, Haiti, the richest colony of its time, fought French slavery and in 1804 it seized its independence. In USA slavery was then in full bloom. America did not want its African slaves to emulate Haiti, and it has never forgiven Haiti for that, and thus begun the story of America’s destabilization of Haiti.

Ruto do you see the irony of your actions? The USA, was originally a settler colony taking over the land that belonged to Native Americans. In 1776 The White settlers declared their independence from their English King. But the colonized Native Americans remained colonized. Kenya was equally a British settler colony.

The white settlers wanted to have a similar kind of Independence. But the Mau Mau led by Dedan Kĩmathi stopped them. Years later, Algeria, Rhodesia and South Africa would follow the example of Kenya. Thus the country you now lead, was the first to stop the historical trend of white settlers claiming themselves independent as in America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Ruto, you have chosen to betray that history of Pride. Ruto, you have chosen to become an agent of the West. Ruto, you have chosen to sell your country cheap.

Why, oh, Why?


Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a Kenyan writer who is considered East Africa’s leading novelist. His popular Weep Not, Child (1964) was the first major novel in English by an East African. As he became sensitized to the effects of colonialism in Africa, Ngugi adopted his traditional name and wrote in the Bantu language of Kenya’s Kikuyu people.

His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children’s literature. He is the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal Mũtĩiri. His short story The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright has been translated into 100 languages.

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