Farouk Kibet, the man behind the mask

Commonly known as Farouk, his full names are Farouk Teigut Kibet. He has called the shots around the DP over the past four years, determining the fate of those seeking to get access to the Deputy President, William Ruto, at his Harambee House Annex office, in Karen and elsewhere.

The Deputy President’s personal aide, is a suave gentleman. He is a self-effacing individual at the DP’s numerous public forums, a silent observer and a stickler for detail. He keeps a watchful eye, taking in every detail for subsequent review. He notes who is who and who says what. He spots out fellow power brokers in the crowd for future engagement.

The Deputy President’s right hand man has recently hit newspaper headlines for allegedly receiving money from a suspect in the National Youth Service (NYS) Sh 791 million scandal. The powerful Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee toyed for a while with the thought of summoning him for interrogation on the NYS saga before dropping the idea altogether.

Farouk was also among a number of Kenyans who were mentioned by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, for alleged involvement in the 2007 post elections violence. Bensouda claimed that Farouk stormed the Eldoret Police Station, at the height of the violence. She also accused him of tampering with ICC witnesses in the debacle that was the case against the DP at The Hague.

Those who know Farouk recall how he used to roam the streets of Eldoret Town in the early 1990s, engaging Kanu Youth wingers in animated discussions on how to boost the then ruling party’s fortunes in Uasin Gishu and his home area of Turbo Division.

The high school that Farouk attended, if any, is not known. However, he was a regular contributor to the mailbox in The Standard and the now defunct Kenya Times newspapers. He was a great friend of Eldoret-based print journalists and correspondents.

His crisp letters always carried messages of support for politicians, like the then powerful Kanu branch chairmen, Mark Too, Ezekiel Barngetuny, Philemon Chelagat and at some point Reuben Chesire, among other politicians from the North Rift. He was especially in the good books of serving MPs at the time. The Deputy President had not yet burst onto the political scene.

Today, when the DP glances at Kibet’s russet face he sees the mark of honour, truth and loyalty. The political camaraderie between the two men is so unusual and so profound that friend and foe alike attest to the thought that only Mother Nature could ever separate them.

The camaraderie is unusual because Ruto is intellectually sophisticated — boasting of two university degrees and counting, while Kibet has obscure educational credentials, if the narratives in Eldoret are anything to go by.

The Deputy President’s reserved lead foot soldier has stuck with his boss through thick and thin. Together, they have seen it all and he is now reaping the benefits. The big irony of it all is that the relationship reportedly began with an insult.

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Our journey to discover the man behind the mask began in Nairobi where, through the DP’s Spokesman David Mugonyi, he rebuffed our pleas for an interview. It took us to Eldoret, the theatre of his demagoguery and to his quaint hamlet in Kapkechui, Chepsaita, on the border of Uasin Gishu and Kakamega Counties.

Isaac Maiyo, a long-time ally of the DP, told The Standard on Sunday in Nandi, “In 1997 when the DP was coming into politics, he (Farouk) was against us. As a matter of fact, the DP didn’t like him because at some point – and in the rough of politics — he abused us. He could not come to terms with Ruto as a newcomer.”

With a glint in his bespectacled eyes, Maiyo takes a long reflective pause, as the mid-day sun pounds his balding head. He is reliving the circumstances that changed their fortunes from foes to friends and the ties that have bound them together ever since.

“As on-the-ground political activist, he didn’t care a thing and was shameless. We thought that to have him in the opposing camp would be risky. We talked to him and he crossed over to our side. He turned out to be a serious supporter of the DP and up to this moment, he has never turned his back on him,” Maiyo said.

His unwavering loyalty in the first five years of Ruto’s three terms as Eldoret North MP earned him a nomination to Wareng County Council as a councilor from 2003 to 1997. From there onwards, his story begins to change and people become more measured on what they say of him and before him.

“From the record, he served very well as a nominated councilor. He did nothing wrong, nothing wrong,” his former colleague at the County Council, Paul Kiprop said.

Loved and loathed in equal measure

via The Standard – Kenya : Farouk Kibet, the man behind the mask

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