Kenyan envoy moves to quell fire over Ruto’s ‘no cows in DRC’ remark

Wednesday February 16 2022

Kenya Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Dr George Masafu (right) with the Secretary-General of the Congolese Foreign Ministry, Joska Kabongo in Kinshasa on February 16, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY


Kenya’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Dr George Masafu, on Wednesday, said there is no broken “respect” between the two countries in the wake of comments by Deputy President William Ruto, which were seen in Kinshasa as disparaging.

The envoy said there have been “negative reactions” to remarks by DP Ruto about his host country’s lack of cows.

Dr Masafu said in a statement that the Embassy had updated Nairobi on the reactions from the business community in Kinshasa, who demanded assurance of mutual respect.

“The Kenyan Embassy wishes to reiterate that the government and the people share a deep and respectful; historical relationship with the government and the people of DRC. This relationship stretches back to the independence of our respective countries,” the statement said.

A video clip that was widely shared shows the Deputy President at a campaign rally in Nyeri, central Kenya, on Monday, saying that the Congolese were mostly musicians who do not own cows.

“We have a market in DR Congo… these people who are (just) singers… There’s a population of about 90 million, but they don’t own a single cow,” he said.


He was using this example to challenge Nyeri residents, and sort of pledge to them, that if he wins the August 9 presidential election, his administration would enhance investment in livestock keeping so they could sell the products as far as the DRC.

Read: Kenyan DP's 'cow' remark sparks outrage in DRC

His description of Congolese as high-waist trouser wearers and musicians did not go down well with both Congolese and some Kenyans.  

On Tuesday, when the clip was shared, journalists, rights activists, politicians and ordinary Congolese noted the “unacceptable lack of respect” for DRC on the part of Dr Ruto.

Ms Francine Muyumba, a senator and former president of the Pan African Youth Union said: “This is really unacceptable; with all due respect, there is a need to withdraw this statement. If DRC did not have a single cow, how could KENYA sign economic deals with DRC? EquityBCDC is currently making money in Congo; this is an insult. We are friends to Kenya. A candidate running for the highest office of the Country needs to be diplomatically conscience (sic) as Kenya need(s) to strengthen economic ties in the region for Kenya’s internal economic growth. Kenya Airways is now flying in some of our big cities. This is a provocation or just an insult to my people. Sad for Africa.”

Dr Masafu sought to reassure the DRC that Kenya would continue encouraging the citizens of both countries to keep engaging and “building strong partnerships, especially at this historic moment when the DRC prepares to join the East African Community.”

Dr Masafu says he met with the Secretary-General of the Congolese Foreign Ministry, Joska Kabongo, to discuss “and disassociate from remarks made by DP William Ruto on DRC”.

“The remarks were personal and do not reflect the position of the government of Kenya.”


DRC has witnessed a shortage of milk, beef and other livestock products, but not because they don’t keep cows. In most cases, the conflict raging in parts of the country has forced people to live in refugee camps, unable to keep enough livestock to supply the local demand.

A study by the International Livestock Research Institute says the DRC, the largest sub-Saharan country, has about 90 million hectares of pasture that can sustain 40 million head of cattle. That is enough to produce 1.5 million tonnes of beef a year.

“But the country’s immense livestock production potential remains underexploited because of, among other challenges, lack of high-quality fodder for livestock.

“The DRC produces only 2.3 percent of its national potential in beef and imports 200,000 tonnes of meat annually to meet demand,” ILRI says in the report.