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University of Arizona in the US did not disown graduates in ceremony presided over by Kenyan president William Ruto

IN SHORT: In a letter circulating on Kenyan social media platforms, a US educational institution appears to be bashing the Kenyan president. But the letter is bogus.

On 9 December 2023, Kenyan president William Ruto presented certificates of completion to graduates who had enrolled for free online courses at Arizona State University in the US.

A day later, a letter circulated online claiming that the university had denied any links with the graduates.

“In response to recent assertions, the University of Arizona categorically denies any affiliation with the graduates in Kenya, whose ceremony was presided over by President Ruto,” reads part of the letter.

“We wish to emphasize our unequivocal disassociation from this fraudulent claim and underscore that these individuals did not pursue their studies at our esteemed institution,” it continued.

The letter bears the University of Arizona logo.

Some social media users seized on the letter, saying it was a major embarrassment for the Kenyan leader.

The claim has also been posted on Facebook here, here, here and here. But is the letter genuine? We took a closer look and found some red flags.

USKenyaLetter_Fake

Red flags

Ruto announced the online courses in December 2022. His speech at the time shows that the courses were offered by the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. This is a separate institution from the University of Arizona, the alleged author of the letter.

The letter is undated and unsigned, which is unusual for an official communication from an educational institution.

It also wades into domestic politics, urging Ruto to focus instead on taxing Kenyans fairly and reducing international travel. This would be unlikely for any university, local or foreign.

We searched the University of Arizona's official Facebook page and website for the letter, but came up empty. 

The final word on the matter came from the institution. “I can confirm the letter in question is a forgery and did not come from the University of Arizona,” spokesperson Nick Prevenas told Africa Check.

Arizona State University, which oversaw the graduation in question, is a “completely separate institution”, Prevenas said.

The Thunderbird School of Global Management posted the graduation photos on its official Facebook page, saying: “December 9 was a special day in Kenya, as President Ruto awarded certificates of completion to Kenyan learners who successfully finished the Global Entrepreneurship & Innovation Bootcamp.” There is no sign of the letter on the school’s verified page.

The letter circulating online is fake.

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