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No, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta did not call his successor William Ruto a ‘conman’ and ‘liar’ after Ruto’s 2023 national day speech

IN SHORT: A widely shared TikTok video appears to show that former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta called his successor William Ruto a “liar” and “a conman” for certain promises.  But the video has been manipulated, with old clips of Kenyatta speaking in 2022 edited into a speech Ruto made on 1 June 2023.

Kenya marked its 60-year anniversary of self-rule on Madaraka Day on 1 June 2023. In his speech, president William Ruto promised all motorcycle taxi operators that, come September, they would have access to motorcycles that don’t use petrol. 

A video posted on TikTok shows parts of speeches by former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto, his successor. The video alternates between speeches given by Ruto and Kenyatta. 

It shows a section of Ruto’s 2023 Madaraka Day speech where he promised motorcycle taxi operators in the country that he would introduce electric motorcycles by September. The sections of Kenyatta’s speech shown seem to be mocking Ruto’s promises, suggesting they are lies. The clip ends with Kenyatta saying: “That is conmanship.” 

The speeches are in English and Kiswahili, and the video is captioned at the top: “Former president Uhuru Kenyatta responds to Ruto after today’s Madaraka Day speech about bodaboda riders.” 

It also has a brief caption midway through that reads: “Uhuru says Ruto is a conman.”

The video has been shared by multiple users on TikTok, including here, here, here, here and here.

But did Kenyatta publicly respond to Ruto’s 2023 Madaraka Day speech and call him a liar and a conman? We checked.


Boda bodas and politics

Motorcycle taxis, known as boda bodas in Kenya, are used to transport passengers and goods. They are a popular and fast-growing means of cheaper transportation.  Boda boda riders have often been wooed by politicians during political campaigns. During his 2022 presidential campaign, Ruto portrayed himself as a champion for low-income earning Kenyans, including boda boda operators. His main competitor, Odinga, also tried to woo boda boda riders with promises.

During his 2023 Madaraka Day address, Ruto did say his government would introduce electric motorcycles for boda boda riders. 

A reverse image search of screenshots of Kenyatta’s speech in the TikTok video led to another video posted on YouTube of a July 2022 event, at the height of campaigning for the general elections held in August that year.

In the video, Kenyatta did not mention Ruto by name, but he was widely understood to be referring to Ruto and his campaign. Then, Ruto was deputy president and also a presidential candidate. Kenyatta was supporting Ruto’s rival Raila Odinga. 

He referred to Ruto’s earlier criticism of port operations that had been moved to Naivasha and Nairobi. The parts of Kenyatta’s speech included in the TikTok clip can be found in the original video at minute 1:56 to 2:09, minute 2:24 to 2:26, minute 5:17 to 5:22 and minute 10:32 to 10:44

“Na kiongozi anasimama akidanganya mchana mchana na amekuwa ndani ya serikali, na sisemi ni nani” Kenyatta said. This is Kiswahili for: “And a leader stands up and lies in broad daylight yet they have been in government. I won’t say who it is [I am talking about].” 

“Hiyo ni mambo ya u-conmanship” Kenyatta said. This is Kiswahili for “that’s conmanship”.

Kenyatta’s video was published on 26 July 2022, and so could not have been a response to Ruto’s 1 June 2023 speech. Kenyatta did not make any public address on Madaraka Day in 2023.

The claim that Kenyatta was responding to Ruto’s Madaraka Day speech is false.

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