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How Ruto’s trade marked ‘mambo ni matatu’ is already being used

By Winnie Mabel October 11th, 2023 2 min read

President Ruto, through his lawyer, has trademarked his infamous ‘mambo ni matatu’ (the options are three) phrase that he used as a threat against sugar cartels in Western Kenya during a Bungoma trip in August 2023.

By trade marking it, it means that he owns the rights to that phrase for 10 years and can apply to extend to continue owning it as he pleases. This means that no one can use this phrase in conducting any private or public business.

However, between the time he made the infamous threat and trademarking it today, October 11, 2023, hundreds of Kenyans already  began using the phrase for various reasons. Nairobi News samples some of the ways ‘mambo ni matatu’ is already being used.

  1. In adverts- One land selling company used the phrase to pull in customers to purchase land next to State House Nakuru. In their advert, they said “jaribu ploti maguta maguta hapa ujue mambo ni matatu.’
  2. In music- A remix of President Ruto’s speech was taken and remixed over beats with the title ‘mambo ni matatu’ and uploaded on YouTube.
  3. Nganya wars- A video on YouTube also used the ‘mambo ni matatu’ phrase as a headline to a recording of matatu culture fans celebrating new pimped public transport vehicles on the road. Matatu means three and it is also a Swahili name for the popular PSVs on Kenyan roads. The headline was used to promote nganyas.
  4. Clothes selling businesses- Several Kenyans in the t-shirt branding business took the ‘mambo ni matatu’ phrase and printed it on t-shirt which they then sold both on the streets and via social media.
  5. ‘Mambo ni matatu’ challenge- The challenge ranged from various topics but the gist of it was that one person ‘threatened’ another person using the now trade marked phrase. There are 1.6 million views on the #mambonimatatu and hundreds of thousands others on variations of this phrase on TikTok alone.

Anyone, going forward, found using this trade marked phrase is liable of being found guilty and fined not more than Sh 10,000 or imprisonment of not more than five years, or both.

To use it, a person will have to first get permission from President William Ruto. He now joins the vocal Central Organization of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli in trade marking phrases made in the heat of the moment. Atwoli trade marked his “Alaaar” phrase that became popular following his live interview at a local channel.

Also read: President Ruto owns the right to ‘Mambo ni Matatu’ viral phrase

Kindiki puts Pokot cattle rustlers on notice