By Vincent Ng’ethe
As Kenya’s general election draws near, political candidates are crisscrossing the country, selling their bids to voters and criticising their opponents.
On 29 May 2022, Raila Odinga, who is running for president, led his Azimo One Kenya Coalition party in a series of rallies around Western Kenya. At Sirisia, the former speaker of the National Assembly, Kenneth Marende, made a short speech.
Speaking in Swahili, Marende said: “This man has spoken on TV and he has been recorded saying that all the other tribes that are in Kitale and Trans Nzoia, together with you Bukusu and we Wanyore, leave because that land is not theirs.”
Ruto interviewed by Jeff Koinange
The Kenya Editors Guild fact-checking desk asked the former speaker for the evidence supporting his claim and he promptly sent us a video. It shows Ruto being interviewed on K24 TV by Jeff Koinange, who currently works for Citizen TV.
“Who lived where, whose land is ancestrally whose?” Ruto asked. “For example the whole of Kitale, the Luhyas the Kisiis, many of the Kalenjin sub tribes who are there today will have to move out because that land, ancestrally, belong(s) to the Pokot, the Cherangany, the Sengwer and the Sabaot.”
The host, Jeff Koinange, was incredulous. “But that’s a little extreme, Mheshimiwa,” he said. “It’s not extreme,” Ruto countered. “It is in the constitution. I challenge you to go and read it.”
Screenshot matched 2010 video
Did the video really show William Ruto saying that non-Kalenjin people must leave Kitale and Trans-Nzoia? We sought the original video so that we could watch the entire interview in context.
Using the InVID WeVerify video verification tool, we obtained a screenshot of the video and performed a Yandex reverse image search on it. The results showed that the K24 logo on the top left of the video matched another video which was published on YouTube in June 2010. The programme was Capital Talk, hosted by Jeff Koinange.
Given that the K24 logo has changed over the years, it is likely that the video of Ruto was also broadcast around 2010. We searched YouTube with the words “Capital Talk William Ruto 2010” and found an interview of Ruto that was published in four parts on 13 May 2010.
Ancestral land injustices
The clip Marende referred to is found in the third video. In it, Ruto criticises Section 67 (2)(e) of the draft constitution, which empowered the National Land Commission to investigate ‘ancestral land injustices’.
“My brother Jeff, we are taking this country the wrong way. Because, in Rift Valley for example, if you begin to talk about who lived where, whose land is ancestrally whose? For example the whole of Kitale, the Luhyas the Kisiis, many of the Kalenjin sub tribes who are there today will have to move out because that land, ancestrally, belong(s) to the Pokot, the Cherangany, the Sengwer and the Sabaot.”
Ruto argued the provision would stoke more conflict and vindicate those wanting to evict others. “What will happen to the land clashes that we have had all these years in the Rift Valley? You are actually giving it now constitutional recognition, that these people have genuinely been fighting over land which is ancestrally theirs. ”
Marende told the fact-checking desk that he thought the clip he shared was a fair representation of the original interview. “You must understand the clarity of thought and emphasis of the interviewee. Hear JKL prodding and the responses by William,” he said. Note: The KEG Fact-checking Desk is not aware of any evidence that the former Speaker was involved in trimming or editing the video of Ruto in any way.
It is clear that according to the full video, Ruto was not ordering non-Kalenjin people to leave Kitale and Trans Nzoia but debating the merits of an article in the draft constitution that gave certain powers to the National Land Commission. The video was manipulated to mislead by cutting off parts that made the context clear.