Kenyans, including Jubilee supporters, have taken to social media to critic Muhoho Kenyatta, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s son, for being unable to proficiently speak Swahili.
Muhoho, who had accompanied Deputy President William Ruto in Nandi County for a campaign tour at the weekend, read a 30-second speech from his smart phone, amid cheers from the gathered crowd. Kenyans were dismayed, calling him unpatriotic for not being able to deliver a simple message in the native language.
The second born son of the president, who is the last born in the family of three, has not gone through the Kenyan education system. It is alleged that Muhoho had gone through the IGCSE system of education abroad, the reason he is unable to speak Swahili.
This is the first time Muhoho is speaking publicly at a political function, days after First Lady Margaret Kenyatta appeared in a political rally at Uhuru park. It has thus been seen as an act of testing waters in preparation for 2022 politics where his father will be exiting the political stage, which could mark the end of Kenyatta family in Kenyan politics.
If so, Muhoho will have a long way to familiarise himself with Kiswahili, Kenya’s national language that is the most spoken and widely accepted language in Kenya. Common knowledge in politics states that for any political mileage you have to associate yourself with the voters, and in this sense the language.
Here are some comments from Kenyans about Muhoho’s inability to speak Swahili:
“If Muhoho asks for my vote as future President, I might not give him,” said Chepkorir Vera Moraa, a former student leader at Moi University, an ardent Jubilee supporter.
“Let’s be clear, his knowledge of Swahili absolutely matters. Anyone who knows politics 101 will tell you that the people have to feel you are one of them. If you don’t look like them or talk like them it creates distance and loses votes. This is why his own father dabs and speaks Kiswahili…to look and sound more like the people he is seeking votes from,” said Imungu Kalevera, a social media user.
“Yes, I feel some sense of lack of patriotism in him, but you cant blame him altogether. He has been brought up in abroad. With time he’ll learn . A few years back, Gedion Moi could not speak Swahili, you can even today realise he struggles,” explained John Ngigi.
“This young man. At his age, he was unable to speak in Kiswahili. He was sent a text message to read and even in the process of reading he wasn’t sure of what he was reading. What if someone would have sent him a pathetic text bordering on insults???? Can he sing the nation anthem, Swahili version?” wondered Mwero Mwangale.
However, Muhoho Kenyatta, a designer by profession, is not alone. When he first emerged politically, former President Moi’s favourite son, Gideon, could not perfectly construct a sentence in Swahili leave alone his native Kalenjin language. However, he has beaten the odds and is presently the Baringo Senator with designs on the presidency and speaks both languages.
Muhoho runs his own clothing line in various major African cities. In November 2014, he won the Showcase Designer of the Year award in the Emerging Designer category at the Nairobi Expo. His engagement in public events includes a Christmas Day visit to Kenyatta National Hospital Children’s Cancer Ward and Maternity Wing in 2015 during which he donated an assortment of equipment and Ksh1 million for needy kids.
He was accompanied by his fiancee, Firyal Nur Al Hossain, a designer and founder of the Nur clothing label. She is related to Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed. In July 2015, the two were also at the airport to welcome US President Barack Obama.