From the streets to the presidency, the tale of William Ruto and Kennedy Agyapong- Kwame Adinkrah writes

The apparent semblance of the political climate between Ghana and Kenya is evident as both countries are seen as having strong democratic credentials.

Kenya has exhibited exceptional stability since gaining independence in 1963, and Ghana, on the other hand, has since 1992 has benefited from a higher level of multi-party democracy and freedom. Both parliaments are, however, noted for scuffles and disruption of parliamentary proceedings.

In August 2022, Kenyans elected a new president in a fiercely contested presidential election. Deputy President, William Ruto won the election by 50.5%.

According to a BBC report, Ruto had a childhood that epitomised the lives of many poor Kenyans. He went to primary school barefooted, wearing his first pair of shoes at the age of 15. He sold chicken and groundnuts by the roadside in rural areas of the Rift Valley and also pushed wheelbarrows.

Is there any semblance between his story and that of Hon. Kennedy Agyapong, a Ghanaian Member of Parliament who has declared his intention to contest the 2024 presidential elections? And will Ruto’s political achievement have any psychological effect on the ambition of Kennedy Agyapong’s?  

Kennedy was raised in Assin Dompim and, after completing his senior secondary school education, he went to join his mother to sell on the streets in Accra. He traded in chocolates, bubble gum popularly known as ‘P.K’, razor blades, and pain relieving ointment referred to as ‘Robb’ on the principal streets of Accra.  He graduated to peddling leather bags and aluminium buckets on the streets of Kokomlemle and Abeka Lapaz. He endured hours of blistering heat and starvation to keep afloat and save money. Fate found him in Germany, where he worked at a restaurant and, subsequently, in America, where he worked at a bakery and gas station.  

Political journeys 

In the run-up to the 1992 general election, Ruto helped the Youth wing of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) 1992 organization and backed the KANU party’s presidential candidate, Daniel Arap Moi. He was subsequently elected to the Kenyan parliament for the first time in 1997 and again in 2002. Mr. Ruto served as Minister of Interior Affairs.

Moi’s selection of Uhuru Kenyatta as the party’s presidential candidate in the 2002 election caused a rift within KANU, but Ruto remained in the party and supported Kenyatta’s campaign for the presidency which, unfortunately, turned out unsuccessful. He later served as Kenyatta’s vice president for two terms until Kenyatta openly declared him ineligible to run for president. (Musambi, 2022).

In August 2022, Ruto was sworn in as the President of Kenya.  

Kennedy Agyapong did not emerge as a political parvenu to run for president. He has gained a lot of experience from working and financing the former leader of the NPP, Professor Charles Adu Boahen, in 1992, the same year William Ruto became involved in politics. Ken came to parliament in 2001 and remains one of the key Ghanaian politicians who has never lost an election. He retained his seat in the 2004 and 2008 parliamentary elections. In 2012, he was elected to the new seat of Assin Central and was re-elected in 2016. He also retained his seat in the 2020 general elections and currently serve as Chairman of the Parliament’s Defense and Interior Committee.  

The Campaign  

As the “hustler in chief,” Ruto portrayed himself as the champion of the poor and the vulnerable in Kenya’s society. Relating to his beginning, he fashioned the campaign message “the hustler nation” and conferred on himself the title, “hustler-in-chief”, to create and emphasise the gap between the poor and the rich, hustlers and dynasties: Odingas and Kenyattas. Ruto positioned himself as the saviour of the hustlers, many of whom were the intended audience for his message. He proposed and promoted the concept of a “bottom-up” approach to the economy, saying it would benefit the poor, especially the youth, who are bearing the brunt of the economy. ‘With Ruto, every hustle matters!’   

The Oxford Dictionary defines a foot soldier as a soldier who fights on foot, especially a person who carries out important work but does not have a role of authority in an organisation or field. In our current dispensation, Kennedy considers himself a “chief foot soldier” and one of those who are perceived not to be part of the mainstream political establishment and who stands for change.  He believes that economic growth cannot be achieved without first taking steps to guarantee political stability and good governance based on patriotism, honesty, and discipline.

With his strong relationship with the people at a grassroots level, Kennedy is promising to focus his economic development on the poor, grassroots, and lower class and make that common person a major priority in his administration. He knows firsthand what it is like to be at the grassroot, so, he is crafting his campaign to suit the grassroot and it is getting a high wave of resonance.  

The Communication 

Mr. Agyapong is a very good public speaker and a convincing communicator who rarely reads speeches to people. Likewise, Ruto is an orator and a story teller, gifted with exceptional communication skills. Quite recently, a social media platform rated him as Africa’s best orator, which the Standard Newspaper of Kenya reported as fake news. Undeniably, Ruto is a great communicator. The “hustlers and the grassroots” easily connect to their openness and honesty because they speak the people’s moral language while giving them hope and knowledge to succeed. 


Mr. Agyapong does not play the ostrich. He publicly criticized his own party and government after it sent the country to the IMF and blamed their predecessor for mismanaging the economy. He questioned his party’s neglect of those who worked assiduously for the party at the polling stations during the 2020 elections. Ken is perceived as “the voice of the voiceless and hope for the hopeless”. Similarly, Ruto is the first evangelical Christian president who is not shy about publicly professing his faith and has been vocal on issues of gay rights and abortion. In some circles, he is referred to as “Deputy Jesus.” 

Humanitarian Works 

The Kenyan President, William Ruto, is a well-known philanthropist in Kenya. He has been donating food items and essential needs to communities. In the wake of COVID-19, many people benefited from his humanitarian works by donating PPAs and other essential materials to various communities.  In Ghana, Kennedy is one of the biggest philanthropists who is solely funding an 80-bed cardiothoracic center at the 37 Military Hospital. His humanitarian work is endless and not a single week goes by without news of his charitable gestures. 

Business Moguls 

The two personalities are among the wealthiest politicians in Africa, owning conglomerates of businesses and properties in their respective countries and abroad. They are among the highest employers in Kenya and Ghana. More than 7000 workers are on the payroll of Kennedy Agyapong.


Semblance is not a reality. The outward appearance of something might be different from the actual. In a country like Ghana where, ethnicity, religion and gender are considered major determinants of elections, will the theory of Roto’s ‘hustler-nation’ and Kennedy’s ‘grassroot’ campaign, also, become a potent determinant in the NPP presidential primaries and the 2024 general elections? Will the ‘hustlers’ and ‘foot soldiers’ reward their own?

Your guess is as good as mine!

Source: Purefmonline.com II Kwame Adinkrah (Broadcaster and PHD Candidate) II 2022

Evans Osei-Bonsu

Evans is a radio producer @PureFM (95.7MHz) under the Angel Broadcasting Network (ABN Ghana), writer, student of Law and Politics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

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