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Kenyan politicians who have cried in public

By Freya Wanjiku September 9th, 2023 2 min read

Politics often appear tough, unyielding and unbreakable. But yet, sometimes the walls come down, and political leaders reveal a side we rarely see – their vulnerability. These are the moments when, amidst the hustle and hard decisions, they shed tears publicly, reminding everyone that they, too, have hearts that feel.

These emotional moments can be sparked by joy, sorrow, or the sheer weight of their roles. Such instances provide a refreshing reminder that beneath the power suits and fiery speeches are real people with real emotions.

Whether seen as a sign of vulnerability or a manifestation of genuine sentiment, these teary episodes have been major talking points in Kenyan politics.

Here are some of Kenya’s politicians who have shed tears in public:

President William Ruto weeps during a prayer service at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi. PHOTOS | COURTESY

President William Ruto:  There are moments when the Head of State has been unable to hold back his emotions in public. Shortly after his inauguration as president, during a thanksgiving service at State House, a visibly moved Dr Ruto was seen wiping away tears with a handkerchief amidst a praise and worship session.

The intensity of his feelings was further demonstrated when, following the Supreme Court’s confirmation of his election win, he was caught on camera shedding tears of joy.

Another occasion when President Ruto broke down was when eight-year-old, Nina Kanana Mutheu, recited a poignant poem titled “Uncle Willy”. Dr Ruto, who was then the Deputy President, couldn’t hold back his tears.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja weeps at a function attended by President William Ruto. PHOTO | COURTESY

Johnson Sakaja: In June, an emotional scene unfolded as Nairobi’s Governor was moved to tears as he spoke about the deplorable state of many public schools in the county.

On that occasion, during the launch of the school feeding programme at Roysambu Primary School, Governor Sakaja cited cases of schools that are converted to churches on Sundays, only to revert to their educational role on Mondays, and then becoming venues for overnight vigils by evening. At one point in his speech, Sakaja paused to compose himself as he fought back tears.

Former Starehe MP Charles Kanyi aka Jaguar. PHOTO | COURTESY

Charles Njagua: Ahead of the 2017 General Election, the musician-turned-politician broke down after the Jubilee coalition failed to issue him with the ticket to run for the Starehe parliamentary seat.  Remarkably, his emotional outbursts worked wonders as the party eventually issued him with the nomination certificate while his main rival during the party primaries, Maina Kamanda, was eventually nominated to Parliament. However, this incident made him the subject of ridicule online, with many netizens and fellow politicians poking fun at him.

Musician Bahati when he was reduced to tears after Jubilee party recalled his nomination to contest the Mathare parliamentary seat. PHOTO | COURTESY

Kelvin Kioko aka Bahati: The musician’s short-lived political career does not hold many great memories. Ahead of last year’s General Election, Bahati won the Jubilee Party ticket to contest Mathare Parliamentary seat but things got messy for him when he was pressured to step down.

It was all to much for Bahati who broke down while speaking to the media as he faulted the Azimio la Umoja coalition for its decision to support ODM’s Anthony Oluoch for the position. A teary Bahati appealed to then President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga to give him a chance to run for the seat.

“I respect you my president and I respect Raila Amollo Odinga but please, give the youth of this country a chance. I know there is zoning and Mathare has been zoned as an ODM area but for this one time, give the youth of this country a chance. Give the people of Mathare a chance to choose the leader they have always wanted,” Bahati said then.

Bahati’s political ambitions eventually fizzled out and he has since returned to his music career.