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Significance of President Ruto going barefoot at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial

By Hilary Kimuyu December 6th, 2023 2 min read

President William Ruto paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial at Rajghat in New Delhi on Tuesday during his inaugural state visit to the Asian country.

Taking to X, India’s Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson stated, “Paying homage to Mahatma. President William Ruto of Kenya laid a wreath at Rajghat and paid his respects to Mahatma Gandhi.”

Abiding by the rules of the location, the Head of State took off his shoes and proceeded towards the tribute site in his socks to exhibit his respect.

Accompanied by a group of representatives, he made his way toward the destination, laid a wreath, and joined in a short prayer that was being conducted by the officials present.

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The memorial ground where Gandhi’s remains were cremated is a manifestation of his simplicity as portrayed by the grass lawns and trees.

“The memorial was designed by Vanu G Bhuta, and this national shrine was bestowed with several awards for its architectural design. The memorials of various other leaders such as Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharalal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi are also located inside Raj Ghat,” India’s Ministry of Tourism explains on its website.

One of the remarkable aspects of this location is the inclusion of trees planted by notable figures like Queen Elizabeth II. Situated near the Gandhi memorial is a permanent flame that represents his lasting influence.

The removal of shoes is not unfamiliar to Ruto as this was also observed when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the G20 meeting attended by prominent individuals such as US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

At this September gathering, leaders either walked with socks or barefoot. Some chose to don felt slippers as the area had experienced rainfall.

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Ruto arrived in Delhi on Monday on a state visit to India at the invitation of President Droupadi Murmu. A Presidential visit from Kenya is taking place after over six years, according to Ministry of External Affairs earlier release.

The two-day visit is expected to strengthen and invigorate the bilateral relations between the two countries.

On Monday evening, a state banquet was hosted by President Murmu in honour of President Ruto. During his visit to India, the Kenyan President held detailed discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ruto, who is accompanied by a high-level official delegation, also participated in a business and investment event in New Delhi.