Rachel Chebet Ruto is set to be Kenya’s next First lady after her husband William Ruto was, declared President-elect by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
After Dr Ruto is sworn into office, Mrs Rachel will officially assume the office of the First Lady, succeeding Margaret Kenyatta who has served in the capacity for 10 years.
The office of the First lady is under that of the President, and it plays a supportive role to the presidency and promotes national goals and values.
During her tenure as First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta’s flagship project was the Beyond Zero campaign – an initiative aimed at reducing preventable maternal and child deaths, as well as the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
Her office had its own staff, with Constance Gakonyo as the Chief of Staff, Eva Maina as Deputy Secretary and Vivianne Ngugi serving as the Head of Communication and Press.
Who is incoming First Lady Rachel Ruto?
Rachel Chebet Ruto was born in November 1968, in Likuyani Constituency, Kakamega County.
She went to Likuyani Primary School, then proceeded to Butere Girls for her O and A levels before joining Kenyatta University to pursue a Bachelor of Education Degree.
After graduating, Rachel Ruto became a teacher, before meeting William Ruto while they were both teachers.
During the 2018 Devolution Conference, William Ruto said Likuyani Constituency has always been special to him since it is where he found “the apple of his eye” – Rachel.
“Those looking for a reason as to why I hang around here often… you now know why. You don’t forget that place easily… Like the Bible says, he who finds a wife finds a good thing… aside from the fact that I am just a neighbour,” he told Governors during the 2018 Devolution Conference.
Years later, Ruto would share how he had to learn the Luhya dialect to win Rachel’s heart.
The rest is history, and in 1991 President-elect William Ruto married Rachel, and are now raising 7 children.
A picture of President-elect William Ruto and First lady Rachel Ruto, holding their bibles, heading home after a prayer service will show you that the next first family is deeply rooted in religion.
In her 10-year stint as Kenya’s Second Lady, Rachel Ruto portrayed herself as a prayerful woman – and whenever the country was going through a major problem, she would take the initiative of leading prayers.
A point in time is when she led National Prayers to cleanse the Salgaa black spot along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway in 2017.
In 2019, Rachel made a major amendment to the Official Deputy President’s residence in Karen by launching the National Prayer Altar where the family has been conducting church services and even invited friends and acquaintances to worship with them.
However, Rachel’s prayerful nature has sometimes sunk her into controversies and scrutiny from the members of the public.
In May 2022, she publicly confessed that she prayed until dirty borehole water became crystal clear.
“You know what I did? I went to the kitchen, took a bowl, put salt and went to the borehole and I decreed the words of Elisha. I went and said ‘this water will never be dirty again!’ And I sprayed the water around the borehole. On Friday I went to the residence and noticed the water was looking different…,” Rachel narrated the miraculous incident.
But according to Mrs Ruto, it is these prayers that have been pivotal in getting her husband to the top seat in the country.
During his acceptance speech at the Bomas of Kenya after being declared President-elect Ruto said he is not a self-made leader, but one who has stood strong because of prayers.
“I have been prayed into victory. We were working against the odds, but I must confess it is God,” he said.
Women Empowerment and cycling
The incoming First lady is also a sports enthusiast, and in 2020, started a cycling club named Mama Cycling.
“Riding a bike is everything to a cyclist. The friendship and camaraderie you have with other cyclists,” Mrs Ruto said on the initiative.
On empowerment, the teacher has been involved in activities to uplift the lives of women in Kenya.
She was an active player in the Inua Mama initiative and also the Joyful Women Organization (JOYWO).
Rachel said that her motivation to help support women through initiatives like JOYWO initiative was inspired by an incident in 1997, when she met a woman who was the age of her mother without shoes.
“I started having a dream of going to the rural areas and talking to women, and telling them it is possible,” she said.
Rachel’s aim was to break the barrier of women having financial freedom.