William Ruto will be sworn in on Tuesday, September 13, as the fifth president of the Republic of Kenya. The event marks the end of a long campaign and the beginning of a new administration and probably new direction. It will not be easy. There will be challenges along the way, not least from the losers at the last polls. Election loss is bitter and rarely accepted in this part of the world. The bitterness will linger. Charges that the vote was stolen will not go away. The urge to prove his plans ineffective and that he is incapable to govern will grow. There will be no respite. That is the nature of competitive politics – continuous campaigns, unrelenting attempts to show the other side as woefully inept, and to present your side as the only credible alternative. And so in five years’ time we will be treated to the same thing again and indeed, campaigns for 2027 have already begun. Still, it must be a proud moment for a man who describes himself as a hustler, born with little, facing up to privilege, those born with a sliver spoon, and flooring them. That will no doubt be touted for a long time and likely fire the ambition of many young people. There are some things that may be said to be typically Kenyan and that in a sense make the country predictable. One is the pomp and pageantry at today’s inauguration ceremony of the new president. They will put on a big show as they have always done. The other is what we have just experienced. Every five years Kenyans go to the polls. One side will almost always reject the outcome. They will go to court. A verdict will be passed. Everyone says they accept it and vow to respect it, although one side vehemently disagrees with it. It always happens thus. Eventually a sort of uneasy truce will prevail. But the political struggles continue unabated. But Kenyans are not distinguished only by their highly charged, keenly contested elections and penchant for litigation. They probably have the sharpest business sense of any East African nation. They can smell money a long way off and will follow the scent to its source and make sure they get some of it. It is perhaps for this reason that other East Africans are often wary of their intentions. They fear Kenyan companies will outcompete their own or swallow them, or they will flood their markets with Kenyan products. Or even grab their land. They sometimes contribute to this view of them as they regard themselves as the big boys of the region and want you to know it. They will say how they have the largest economy, top world athletes, best brains, and many other things. But to be fair they do not boast too loudly about these things lest they hurt the feelings of highly sensitive neighbours and jeopardise their business chances. Following the last election, they can make other additions to the list of these typical things. For, instance, they can claim to have had the most orderly, peaceful and transparent election – at least for 99 per cent of the time. They can say it is proof that African elections are not inherently violent. It also gives the lie to the claim that such violence erupts spontaneously. When it does, we know who are behind it. It is not ordinary people, although they are usually the ones at the barricades, throwing stones and smashing windows, or burning tyres on the streets. They are the ones who die, get maimed, or arrested and punished. It is nearly always instigated by leaders. Their followers only respond to the directions they give. When they urge calm, there will be no trouble. But when they give the signal to riot and break things, all hell breaks loose. Kenyans can also proudly point to their judicial system that works and for which they have respect. Even with the heated and acrimonious political contests whose outcome is nearly always disputed, they turn to the courts first and argue their differences, rather than settle them on the streets. The most persuasive side (with evidence) wins the argument. Of course, some parties do disagree with court’s decision, but no one has questioned its impartiality or suggested any form of impropriety on the part of the judges. The judges, too, in reaching their verdict, must weigh many things: the law, the facts and evidence, but also take into account the wellbeing of the nation. They have to resist being dragged into partisan politics or being swayed by loud and noisy clamour from whatever quarter. So far they have been able to maintain judicial propriety and independence. And each time an election dispute has been brought before the Supreme Court, the court has not only adjudicated as appropriate, it has also set a high bar for the next dispute. With the bar getting higher every time, it is possible to imagine a time when there will be no election petitions. Beyond a working and trusted judiciary, Kenyans can also boast of other robust institutions. There is, for instance, the civil service that functions and keeps the country going even when the political class bickers endlessly. The economy too is fairly strong enough to survive political paralysis and other political shocks. President William Ruto inherits all this – the good and the bad, the continually improving, and a huge potential for greater impact at home and in the region. The test will be how he will balance the different strands and how he will harness the enormous possibilities domestically and regionally. Kenya wields enormous power and influence but has been reluctant to use it outside its business interests. Shall we see a step up to use it a little more in regional diplomacy? The views expressed in this article are of the writer.