In his first speech after being declared winner of the August 9 General Election, President William Ruto told Kenyans he had been “prayed into victory.”
He repeated this statement nearly three weeks later when the Supreme Court unanimously upheld his victory in a petition by his main challenger, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party leader Raila Odinga, for what the Chief Justice Martha Koome-led Bench said was lack of evidence.
As the Supreme Court finished reading its verdict on September 5, Dr Ruto was captured going down on his knees, and his wife, Rachel Ruto, leading a prayer session before a round of congratulatory messages among the Kenya Kwanza brigade.
When he later addressed the media in his victory speech, President Ruto had glowing words for his wife, whom he said prayed for him throughout the journey, and would insist on a prayer before the then deputy president left their home for any engagement.
Mrs Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s wife, Pastor Dorcas Rigathi, have since the swearing in of their husbands as the first and second-most-powerful men in Kenya remained just as prayerful, if not more.
Our analysis shows Mrs Ruto and Pastor Rigathi have had 60 church and prayer meetings since the September 13 inauguration.
Of these, First Lady Rachel Ruto has attended 23 meetings between September 13, 2022 and December 16, 2022.
Pastor Rigathi, on the other hand, has attended 30 meetings within the same timeframe, as per a Nation Newsplex analysis.
The duo has also attended four church events together over the same period, the analysis showed.
Between September 14, 2022 and September 25, 2022, Rachel and Dorcas attended five meetings each, with Rachel hosting leaders and prayer services at State House, Nairobi.
On the other hand, Pastor Rigathi attended meetings at House of Grace, held a meeting with the Hindu community in Nairobi, a prayer session at the Deputy President’s official residence and attended the aforementioned prayers hosted by Rachel.
For Mrs Ruto, her activities started immediately after being sworn in and ushered into State House as its tenants for the next five years.
In the first 10 days after the new administration took over, Mrs Ruto hosted Tanzanian music group Zabron Singers known for hits such as ‘Mkono wa Bwana’ and ‘Usiniache’.
The First Lady, in that period, also met with prophet Victor Kusi Boateng from Power Chapel Worldwide, Ghana, before hosting preacher couple, Dr Ian and Angel Ndlovu. Ian and Angel are pastors at the Divine Kingdom Baptist Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
If they were to be elected, Mr Gachagua in an interview in the run-up to the polls said Mrs Ruto and Pastor Rigathi would “see to it that Kenya became a prayerful nation.”
And as soon as they were sworn in, Mrs Ruto swang into action, hosting one religious leader after another in State House. Once in a while, the President joins in the meetings, especially those held when he is in the residence.
Just two weeks after he was sworn in, Mrs Ruto announced monthly prayer meetings at State House.
“The Bible says ‘People will go up to Jerusalem, year-after-year, to celebrate the feast of the tabernacles’, and I think that this is a place where people will come year after year for Thanksgiving.
“I want to tell the church that this is not the last service we are having, you will be coming here month after month to give thanks to the Lord for doing us good,” she said in the prayer event attended by, among others, the President and Mr Gachagua.
In the month of October, the ladies attended a total of 11 religious meetings, with Pastor Rigathi attending six of them.
November 2022 saw the ladies attend the highest number of publicly announced meetings as the number stood at 23. Mama Rachel attended 9 meetings in total while Pastor Rigathi attended the lion’s share, traversing locations including Ghana, Nairobi, Thika and Mt Kenya Central.
So far in December, the duo attended a total of nine religious meetings.
For Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua, it seems, their wives’ faith and that of their own became an important cog in their campaigns and key mobiliser in the August polls, as well as their running of government after they were sworn in.
The duo had, during the campaigns, taunted Mr Odinga, their main opponent, as not being religious enough.
Mr Odinga however hit back, saying no one had monopoly of religion and that his faith was solid.
But with a reported 80 per cent of Kenyans being Christians, the duo, and their wives, are seemingly not taking anything to chance.
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja, who has run a spirited campaign to shut down noisy bars, at one time issued a statement saying noisy churches would not be touched in the crackdown.
Rachel and Dorcas have both built prayer sanctuaries at State House and the official deputy president’s residence in Karen.
In past media interviews, Rachel said she became religious as a very young girl.
Dorcas, on the other hand, left her banking job in 2006 to join the church.
She has been a pastor at House of Grace Church, which she calls her home church.