Italy-Africa Summit: Ruto, the Master of Double-Speak

Kenyan leader William Ruto, joined two dozen African presidents in queuing to greet Italian premier Giorgia Meloni, the leader of a single country, at the opening ceremony of the Italy-Africa summit. Photo Courtesy

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Kenyan leader William Ruto, it is that he has no qualms about contradicting himself to do what he wants.

Last April, Ruto unequivocally proclaimed that “it wasn’t intelligent for 55 African leaders to go and sit before one gentleman from another place”.

He emphasised the importance of self-respect, stating, “if we don’t respect ourselves, nobody is going to respect us,”.

The Kenyan leader accused of doublespeak stressed the importance of respecting African leaders on the global stage, advocating against treating them like children by world leaders.

“…sometimes we are mistreated, we are loaded into buses like school kids and it is not right,” Ruto spoke at the 2023 IGW African Leadership ceremony with Mo Ibrahim

He criticised the practice of 55 African leaders traveling to meet with the leader of one country, deeming it unfair.

Ruto said the African Union commission would be representing the continent during these summits and forums.

Thinking he was keeping his promise, Ruto skipped the Russia-Africa summit in July last year, opting to be represented by organs of the AU instead.

Despite receiving applause and praise from the continent for his bold decision, Ruto attended the Saudi-Africa summit in Riyadh in November.

Today, on Monday, the Kenyan leader, joined two dozen African presidents in queuing to greet Italian premier Giorgia Meloni, the leader of a single country, at the opening ceremony of the Italy-Africa summit.

Ruto, adept at double-speak stood just steps away from both the AU chair, Azali Assoumani and the AU Commission boss Moussa Faki during the family photo.

Political language, wrote the English author George Orwell in 1946, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

And disillusioned Kenyans have called out the lies and double speak by their leader- the very one they fervently voted for under in 2022.

Marvin Gakunyi, an X user, observed that confidently stating one thing and then doing the opposite is a form of hallucination and delusion.

Duncan Abigaba, a Ugandan national studying in Russia, was surprised to see African leaders being called upon by Italy, deemed “the sick man of Europe,” a country where one in twelve people lives in abject poverty, according to the country’s National Statistics Institute.

Ruto seems adept at making a good impression, but his actions often diverge from his words when it comes to tangible achievements.

Kenyan Foreign Policy plans to interview President Ruto and inquire whether he recognizes the analogy of a person unable to keep their word being akin to a ship without a compass.


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