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First Lady Rachel Ruto’s ‘faith diplomacy’ strategy divides Kenyans

By Winnie Mabel February 20th, 2023 2 min read

Kenya’s First Lady Rachel Ruto attended the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) on February 17, 2023, which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the African Union summit.

At this meeting, First Lady Ruto revealed that she was using faith diplomacy as one of her pillars to align with OFLAD’s economic participation, education, and health priorities.

Also read: Prayer warrior: First Lady Rachel Ruto goes down on her knees to pray for rains

The Nation reported that First Lady Ruto said, “Priorities are organized around three strategic pillars including women economic empowerment which involves financial inclusion and health.

The environment and economic pillar includes green and blue economy and health and wellness while faith diplomacy includes family and national values and mercy works.”

Following the revelation of what her Office’s mission is and the strategies she intended to use, the faith diplomacy strategy left a section of Kenyans divided.

“A few people have tagged me, asking that I explain to them what Faith Diplomacy is. I sincerely don’t understand this particular type as I never came across it during my studies at the University of Nairobi, Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies.

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And from Madam Rachel’s statement, I didn’t quite get how it’s applicable. We might need to place a call to Prof. Joseph Nye, to get a better understanding of this new type of diplomacy and it’s application,” said Pauline Njoroge, a renowned political blogger and communication officer.

“The meaning is obvious ,she meant that she is using her religious faith to conduct diplomatic relations,” said Francis Gaduel.

“When your bedtime book is the Bible, exclusively. When you go for five years with the Bible as the only book you have read, then such utterances as ‘Faith diplomacy’ is what you get.

Haven’t you also met people whose main point of argument is almost always exclusively ‘the Bible says’? Then you know hat that is someone who does not read…..That’s your First Lady. And you ain’t seen anything yet. Wait until you hear there’s a pastor in the delegation for every visit abroad,” added Weru Macharia.

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“Faith diplomacy is found in Bible studies, you need to be inner in the word to understand it,” opined Godrick Gaitano.

“Not even the Vatican has got that department as “Faith Diplomacy” nor “faith ambassadors.” Now to my big question, how has she used “faith diplomacy” to empower Kenya women? Is the tactics of faith diplomacy used by her felt by our women,” asked Ng’iew Onagi Ger Onagi.

“Faith diplomacy across governments enhances public diplomacy as religion plays an important role in policy making, its applicability to empowering Kenyan women ,her excellency needs to expound as it seems she’s speaking in parables,” said Daniel Kihara.

It should be noted that First Lady Ruto and her husband, President William Ruto; and their Kenya Kwanza allies overly identify as Christians and this was the major tool they used in their campaigns in the lead-up to the 2022 general and presidential election.

State House continues to be accused of overusing religion to divide and rule; and allegedly sidelining other faiths, especially in State House religious activities.

Also read: Former Miss Kenya ‘corrects’ First Lady Rachel Ruto’s etiquette