President Uhuru Kenyatta has a new name for his deputy William Ruto: Pastor.
For the two men who had started their reign on March 2013 by kneeling before standing soldiers, to the exasperation of then Chief of Defence Forces Gen Julius Karangi, it was only fitting that they would also ask to be prayed for again at the start of their second term.
Quoting Isaiah 43:2 on how God will be with His people in deep waters, rivers of difficulty, and fire of oppression, President Kenyatta set the tone for what he said was God’s hand in the torturous and long 700-campaign stops journey, only aided by Mr Ruto’s sheer energy and the DP’s wife Rachel’s prayerful nature.
But the President had something more up his sleeve: He was going to lead the prayers this time, assisted by Mr Ruto, a protestant who openly confesses his faith.
“I want us to pray and say the Lord’s Prayer. I’ll say it in English, and my brother here, pastor, will finish in Kiswahili,” President Kenyatta said at the Kasarani Stadium after he finished his 3,900-word second-term speech.
The DP summed up the campaign: “We have got here, not because of our own might, but by God’s grace.
"And I agree with you today: It is not by witchcraft, it is about prayer. And today I want us to sing that there is no God like ours, and today, I will be the soloist.”
The ceremony was punctuated by prayer and Bible verses to start the Jubilee Party leaders’ second term, after a protracted election process that comprised an annulled August 8 election, a disputed October 26 repeat presidential election boycotted by President Kenyatta’s main challenger Raila Odinga and a second Supreme Court petition dismissed on November 20.
“Let me thank my friend and brother, Deputy President William Ruto. Your energy, humour and optimism lifted our campaign every day,” the President said, singling out the one most popular characteristic about the former Eldoret North MP: his tenacity.
During the explosive campaigns running against an equally tenacious Mr Odinga of Nasa, Mr Ruto was known to take as many as seven campaign meetings in one day in different parts of the country.
“I also wish to thank Mrs Rachel Ruto. You have been the spiritual and prayerful bedrock of our two families; and the Kenyan nation,” Mr Kenyatta said of the DP’s wife.
In the run-up to the August 8 polls, Mrs Ruto led Kenyans in praying for peace in elections.
“To my dear wife Margaret: You have been my pillar of strength; your passion to uplift the well-being of every Kenyan inspires me, as it inspires millions of Kenyans. I thank you, Margaret,” President Kenyatta said of the ever-smiling First Lady.
Mrs Kenyatta on Tuesday, like in 2013, stood by him in the inauguration podium, laying on her palm the 2010 Constitution on which the Head of State placed his left hand, as he lifted in his right hand the same Bible used by his father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, when he took a similar oath as Prime Minister in 1963.
“As we engaged wananchi in small market centres from Kimende to Kimilili, from Bura to Bumala, from El Wak to Elburgon, from Witu to Wundanyi, we took on board their views, hopes and aspirations.
"Most resonated with our agenda while some had proposals on issues they felt we should include in our agenda,” President Kenyatta said.