William Ruto Biography: Age, Early Life, Education, Career and Family

William Ruto and his children

William Samoei Kipchirchir Arap Ruto is the fifth President of the Republic of Kenya. He is a Kalenjin from Sugoi village in Wareng Sub County, Uasin Gishu County. Prior to becoming the President of Kenya, William Ruto was the Deputy President of Uhuru Kenyatta, the immediate former and fourth President of Kenya.

Age

Born on 21st December 1966, William Ruto’s age is 57 years old. He was born at a time when Kenya was still in a celebratory mood for gaining independence in 1963.

Early Life and Education

Ruto was born and grew up in Sambut village, Kamagut, in Uasin Gishu County. He is widely considered as a member of the Nandi community, a sub-tribe of the Kalenjin community. However, Ruto’s father was actually a Kipsigis from Kericho who went to marry and live in Nandi land, hence his descendants became Nandis. William Ruto’s parents are Daniel and Sarah Cheruiyot.

William Ruto started his primary school education at Kamagut Primary School before being transferred to Kerotet Primary School, both in Uasin Gishu County. He sat for the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examination. He then attended Wareng Secondary School in Uasin Gishu County before transferring to Kapsabet High School in Nandi County where he sat for the Advanced Level (A-Level) examinations.

After High School. Ruto joined the University of Nairobi where he pursued Bachelor of Science in Botany and Zoology. He graduated from the University in 1990 and went on to pursue a Master of Science in Plant Ecology in 2011. He later enrolled for a PhD in Plant Ecology, which he completed in 2018 while being the Deputy President of Kenya.

Ruto authored several papers including a paper titled Plant Species Diversity and Composition of Two Wetlands in the Nairobi National Park, Kenya. During his time in the campus for his undergraduate education, Ruto was an active member of the Christian Union. He also served as the Chairman of the University of Nairobi’s choir.

Through his church activities at the University of Nairobi, he met President Daniel Arap Moi, who would later introduce him to politics during the 1992 general elections.

Dr Ruto has often described the poverty of his youth, recalling how he went barefoot for many years and sold peanuts and chickens on the side of the road to make money. As an adult, he managed to amass a considerable amount of wealth from his many business ventures, which include holdings in the areas of real estate, agriculture, hospitality, and insurance.

In his politics, Ruto has branded himself as a son of a “hustler” who came from a humble background to become who he is. He says his father was a chief, and he perfected on chicken farming when he was young, hence amassing wealth through chicken rearing and farming.

Career

The career of Dr William Ruto has been largely political, since he joined Kenya’s independence Party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), in 1992. Before the general elections of 1992, William Ruto founded the Youth for KANU (YK-92) Movement alongside Cyrus Jirongo and other youthful leaders at the time.

Ruto was later elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Eldoret North Constituency through the KANU ticket. It was a surprise win since he fell a powerful MP and assistant minister in the name of Reuben Cheruiyot. Due to his popularity and political wit, he gained favour from President Moi, who chose him as KANU’s Director of Elections.

He was again re-elected as MP in 2002 when his party KANU was toppled through democratic elections by the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), headed by Mwai Kibaki. During the 2002 elections, factions emerged in KANU as a result of the then President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi choosing the son of his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, as KANU’s flag bearer. Raila Odinga and other KANU leaders joined Mwai Kibaki to form a new party (NARC), but Ruto chose to remain in KANU and support Moi’s choice, Uhuru. He was appointed as the Minister of Home Affairs shortly in 2002 as other leaders exited the party ahead of the general elections. Ruto was also the Secretary General of KANU after the 2002 elections until 2007.

After the 2002 general elections, some NARC leaders including Raila Odinga, Joe Nyaga and Najib Balala were disgruntled due to the failure of Mwai Kibaki to honor their pre-election MoU. They joined KANU leaders including William Ruto and Musalia Mudavadi in forming the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in 2005. The Movement opposed the 2005 Constitution which was fronted by President Kibaki and other NARC leaders.

When the Constitution failed, ODM became a political party, which participated in the controversial general elections of 2007. During the elections, Raila Odinga, who was the presidential candidate for ODM, lamented that the elections were rigged by the incumbent Mwai Kibaki. Ruto was among the most vocal ODM leaders who opposed the elections.

When post-elections violence erupted in 2008, Ruto was chosen as a member of a negotiation team to represent ODM alongside other leaders in negotiations led by former UN Chief Koffi Hannan. The talks led to the formation of a Coalition agreement with the ruling party where Raila Odinga would become Prime Minister and Musalia Mudavadi became Deputy Prime Minister alongside Uhuru Kenyatta.

As part of the power-sharing deal, Ruto was appointed as Minister of Agriculture. He was again elected as MP for Eldoret North in 2008, a position he served until the general elections of 2013.

Ruto was among the list of people who were indicted to stand trial at the ICC for their involvement in Kenya’s 2007/2008 political violence. However, the ICC case was faced with challenges, especially concerning the withdrawal of key prosecution witnesses. In April 2016, the Court dropped charges against Ruto.

On 21 April 2010, Ruto was transferred from the Agriculture Ministry and posted to the Higher Education Ministry, swapping posts with Sally Kosgei. This was seen by Ruto and his allies as a ploy by Raila Odinga to weaken him politically due to his rising popularity. He also fell out with Raila Odinga over the issue of Mau, where Raila supported a move to evict people from Mau Forest, who were mainly from Ruto’s Kalenjin Community.

On 24 August 2011, Ruto was relieved of his ministerial duties and remained a member of parliament. Disgruntled, he joined with Uhuru Kenyatta, his co-accused at the ICC, to form the Jubilee alliance for the 2013 presidential election. They won the elections and became the Deputy President until 2017, when they won again and he retained the position of Deputy President until 2022.

Things started to fall apart immediately after the 2017 elections for Ruto when President Uhuru Kenyatta invited opposition leader Raila Odinga for a handshake. Following the handshake, Ruto was side-lined from government affairs. In fact, most of his roles were transferred to the Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiangi. However, majority of Jubilee leaders from Rift Valley and Mount Kenya remained loyal to Ruto and pledged to honor the agreement between Ruto and Uhuru, where each of them would run for 10 years.

In the 2022 elections, President Uhuru supported Raila Odinga as President, but Ruto was strongly supported by Uhuru’s Mount Kenya stronghold. Ultimately, Ruto won the 2022 elections under the newly formed UDA Party, with Rigathi Gachagua as his Deputy.

On 13 September 2022 he was inaugurated at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in a ceremony presided over by Chief Justice Martha Koome, and attended by over 20 heads of state and government. The inauguration day was declared a public holiday. Attendance was very high, with groups of the general public clashing with security officials, when trying to enter the stadium, the event however continued peacefully. Following his inauguration he officially began his term as President of Kenya.

Family

Ruto is married to Rachel Chebet. The young couple first lived in Dagoretti where they had their first child. They were married in 1991 at the Africa Inland Church. They currently have six children.

  • Nick Ruto: firstborn son, a lawyer, married to Everlyne Chemutai.
  • June Ruto: Firstborn daughter, a foreign diplomat representing Kenya in Poland. She is married to a Nigerian, Alexander Azenagu.
  • Charlene Ruto: Third born child, studied Communication at Day Star University, works as the director of PR and branding at his father’s Weston Hotel.
  • Stephanie Ruto: Graduated from Strathmore University in 2019 with a Degree in Law
  • George Ruto: A pilot. Rarely appears in public
  • Abby Cherop Ruto: daughter to Prisca Bett, a woman who came to the public in 2017 and claimed to be having Ruto’s child. Ruto accepted responsibility. Abby is in High School.
  • Nadia Cherono Ruto: An adopted child, abandoned as a new born and taken in by the Ruto Famiy.

Dr William Ruto is an evangelical Christian and a member of the Africa Inland Church.

He owns a considerable chicken farm in his home village of Sugoi, which was originally inspired by his stint as a chicken seller/hawker on the Nairobi-Eldoret-Malaba highway. Ruto and his wife built a chapel in their compound at their residence in the Karen suburb of Nairobi.

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