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Mark Too's charm offensive touched leaders across the political divide

By Titus Too, Fred Kibor and Silah Koskei | Updated Tue, January 3rd 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3
Former Kanu nominated MP Mark Too (right) and retired President Daniel arap Moi share a light moment at a function. [Photo: File]

Even though his ambition to capture an elective post did not bear fruit, Mark Kiptarbei Too held no grudge and worked closely with those elected for the benefit of the electorate.

Brought up in a humble background to become a seasoned politician both at the local and national levels, Too did not see boundaries in political parties but ensured that leaders across the political divide worked together for the interest of the nation.

He made his bids for election in Emgwen and Mosop constituencies in Nandi as well as in Eldoret South, Uasin Gishu County, where he narrowly missed a seat in 2002. He also contested for Nandi seat on a Kanu ticket and Kesses as NARC flag bearer.

"We competed rigorously for Eldoret South constituency and after I won, Too came to my house and we became friends. He held no grudge and even gave me some financial support during the 2013 General Election," said Mr David Koros, a former MP.

Mr Koros recalls that after the elections, he met severally with Too who was active in mobilising leaders in support of projects, including school expansion and churches through fundraisers.

"He was active in advocating unity among leaders and also calling for enhanced service delivery to the electorate. He wanted general infrastructure to be improved," said Koros.

Flexible mind

Mr Stephen Tarus, a former Kenyan ambassador to Australia, who was also MP for Emgwen constituency, said Too worked well with critics of the Government and those who were pro-establishment because he had a flexible mind.

"When memoirs are written, Too will be remembered for the remarkable thing he did by relinquishing his seat as a nominated MP to pave way for President Uhuru Kenyatta," said Tarus.

Tarus added that prior to the advent of Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Too mobilised friends from different parties and regions of the country to participate in project expansion through harambee spirit.

"He made huge contributions in development of various churches regardless of denomination in terms of buying land and construction," said Tarus.

He adds: "Too also established connections and forums for discussions and unity by engaging leaders like Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Kijana Wamalwa, among others."

On Sunday evening, Deputy President William Ruto led leaders in North Rift region in eulogising Too, terming him a self-made politician who rose from a humble background.

Politicians from the region also said the late Too was a go-getter who did not allow divisive politics to thrive, whether in the government or opposition.

"I pay tribute to the late Too because of the way he polished himself by not relying on any political godfather to achieve his ambition as a seasoned politician. I remember him as a leader who would engage politicians across the political divide and champion for cohesiveness among different communities," said Ruto, who visited Too's Maziwa farm home in Kapseret, Uasin Gishu County.

The DP also said Too was known for his humility because he treated all people without favour, regardless of their standing in the society.

Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui said the late Too inspired hope among many aspiring politicians.

"He would always consult us and reminded us to be humble, preach peace and champion development," said Mr Kiptanui.

He added that Too, during public gatherings, reprimanded leaders when they erred, noting that he had a vision of bringing together all communities in the country.

"The last time we were together, he reminded me to avoid inflammatory statements, regretting that such statements were responsible for the 2007/2008 post-election violence and he wished the same would never recur," said Kiptanui.

Elgeyo Marakwet Kanu chairman Paul Kibet said the late Too honed his political ambition and was an inspiration to upcoming politicians and young people who wanted to venture into farming.

In an earlier interview with The Standard, Too said he did not regret stepping down for Uhuru, saying he was optimistic on his leadership.

During the interview, Too claimed that some political hardliners feared his association with Opposition members, including Raila Odinga of the then National Democratic Party. He said he was happy to be part of the history that nurtured President Kenyatta.

His betrayal

Speaking at his home, Too had revealed that he felt betrayed and unappreciated by the opposing tides within Kanu despite having been instrumental in breaking an imminent vote of no confidence against former President Daniel arap Moi.

Too stated that following 1997 elections in which former Prime Minister Raila Odinga ran, Kanu won a narrow majority in parliamentary elections and it was due to the strenuous task that opposition fronted for a vote of no confidence.

"It is Mark Too that brokered a deal with the opposition (NDP) for some of them to abstain during the crucial vote, though it was a challenge because within the ruling party were radicals who did not want Moi to continue being president. We sailed through," he said.

He revealed that Kanu won after NDP's leader Raila Odinga convinced some of his troops to abstain from the vote.

The former vice-chairman of Lonrho East Africa stated that he accepted to give Uhuru his nomination slot because he trusted his leadership.

Too said Uhuru's flame began in 2001 when he was nominated to Parliament on a Kanu ticket. He later become Minister for Local Government.

He noted that his friendship with Kenyatta had been consistent, having stemmed from the Moi heyday, adding that Uhuru's simplicity had seen them form a strong bond.

"I always meet him whenever I want to consult and the good thing about the President is that he does not abandon his friends," he revealed during the interview.

During the candid interview, Too said he met Moi in Nandi while heading for a function when he (Too) was herding his family's goats along the road after their convoy got stuck in mud.

"As the officers were struggling to push the car out of mud, I went to him and because of my funny character, we had a chat that finally made him laugh and he became fond of me," he said.

He added that after the ordeal, he later met Moi in Nairobi as he sought a chance to join Starehe Boys Centre for his O' levels.

The late Too had told The Standard that he had dined with almost all African leaders.