Hits and misses of Ruto's U.S. visit

President William Ruto's state visit to the U.S.

President William Ruto was on a high-profile four-day visit to the US this week. It was a trip filled with excitement, high hopes, and controversies.

The visit, the first official state visit by a Kenyan president in over two decades, was packed with events that highlighted both the potential for international collaboration and the challenges of diplomatic endeavours.

From meeting Hollywood stars to sparking debates over expenditure, Ruto’s tour was a blend of significant achievements and notable shortcomings, capturing the attention of Kenyans and international observers alike.

Ruto’s photo with retired basketball player, Shaquille O’Neal, who stood head and shoulders above, excited many.

Ruto’s photo with retired basketball player, Shaquille O’Neal went viral.

Tyler Perry no-show

During the visit, President Ruto toured Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. He was accompanied by First Lady Rachel Ruto and other senior officials, including governors and cabinet secretaries.

The tour, which included a meeting with celebrated TV host Steve Harvey, was inspirational.

President Ruto noted the importance of investing in the creative sector, stating, “The Tyler Perry Studios tour was an inspiration to put more effort and resources into the creative sector of our economy.”

This visit highlighted the potential for collaboration between Kenya and major international creative industries, promising more opportunities for Kenyan talent.

However, Tyler Perry himself could not meet President Ruto due to a busy schedule.

Perry expressed his regret on Instagram, saying: “Unfortunately my schedule was booked and I’m heartbroken that I couldn’t move things around in time to be there to greet President Ruto of Kenya as he and his family and delegation toured Tyler Perry studios.”

He promised to visit Kenya soon, but his absence was felt as it would have been a significant moment for the Kenyan delegation.

Tyler Perry [Facebook]

‘Family Feud’

Steve Harvey’s meeting with President Ruto also stood out as a significant moment. Harvey announced plans to visit Kenya in September and December, mentioning that he would be filming his game show ‘Family Feud’ in South Africa and then visiting Kenya.

“I’m going to start shooting Family Feud again in Johannesburg but this time for Botswana. So I’m going to be on that side of the world before I go to see my brother (Ruto) and we’re going to hang out in Kenya,” Harvey said.

President Ruto welcomed the idea, highlighting the benefits of partnerships and mentoring programmes for Kenyan creatives.

President William Ruto and Steve Harvey

Grammy in Mara

Has anyone in their wild dreams ever thought the Grammy Awards, the most prestigious and significant awards in the music industry worldwide, can be hosted in Gengeland, Kenya?

Well, history might be in the offing – for all things are possible – if the Recording Academy takes up Ruto’s offer of Kenya hosting the Grammys is welcomed. Yes, the president proposed that Kenya would be ready to host the Grammys at the Maasai Mara, renowned for the iconic wildebeest migration which is one of the greatest international tourism attractions.

Well, the fact is that there have been behind-the-scenes discussions to have Kenya host an African version of the Grammy’s and who knows since the Grammy organisers could be visiting Nairobi in July, this remains a big opening.

Creatives overshadow waheshimiwa

One of the most exciting moments for many Kenyans was when popular actress Kate Actress, whose real name is Catherine Kamau, announced she had been invited to the US by the American government.

She was to attend a state dinner at the White House and a luncheon with famous Hollywood producer Tyler Perry. Sharing her excitement on social media, Kate thanked the US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, for the invitation.

 “This village girl will be attending the STATE DINNER at the White House & a Luncheon at the #TylerPerry studios in Atlanta,” she posted.

Kate stated the importance of the creative industry, saying it has been ignored for too long by previous administrations.

Kate Actress [Instagram]

Comedian Eddie Butita also accompanied President Ruto on his US tour, another highlight for fans of the Kenyan entertainment industry.

Butita expressed his gratitude to President Ruto on social media, saying: “The fact that I’m part of the head of the state delegation is a clear sign that the creative industry is part of the conversations we are going to have during this trip.”

Charlene Ruto’s absence

However, not everything went smoothly during the trip. One noticeable miss was the absence of Charlene Ruto, the president’s daughter, during the tour.

While photos of the first family at Tyler Perry Studios went viral, Charlene’s absence sparked curiosity and questions on social media.

People wondered why she was missing from such a significant event, especially since her sisters, June, Stephanie, and Cullie, were present.

Charlene Ruto [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Hustler jet outrage

The most controversial aspect of the trip was the private jet cost. Reports emerged that the luxury jet hired for President Ruto and his delegation cost around $1.5 million.

This sparked outrage among Kenyans, given the government’s ongoing austerity measures and the country’s economic challenges.

The US government clarified that it did not pay for the jet, adding to the confusion and controversy.


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