As a sombre mood engulfed Kabimoi village in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County, following news of the death of Jonathan Toroitich, locals reminisced about a man who interacted well with them despite being born into privilege.
The son of former President Daniel Moi, JT, as he was popularly referred to, was a man with few protocols and no appointment was necessary to meet with him.
All that his visitors had to do was to be at the entrance to his home as early as 6am because he was an early riser.
Despite coming from the former president’s family, Jonathan did not live in the shadow of royalty; he mingled with the locals and always assisted as much as he could.
Geoffrey Kokoyo, a neighbour, said if they had any pressing issues, Jonathan was always keen to know what was happening. And even if he did not meet you in person, he would send someone with a kind word and his contribution.
“JT was a man you could meet and talk to one-on-one. He would stop by the road, get out of his car, greet people and inquire about what was happening in the village,” Mr Kokoyo said.
He described Jonathan as a man who led a private life away from his family.
“He never revealed much and you would not hear him brag that he had assisted so-and-so, or had done this-and-that. He did his things and walked away in silence,” he said.
Kokoyo revealed that when you had a problem and met Jonathan, you knew you would be sorted as long as your case was genuine. Many people, he said, had benefited from his generosity.
He said that he was among Jonathan’s fans who in the 1980s would leave their Solian village home and walk at least 14 kilometers to see him race.
“The Safari Rally was nothing without him. We watched the competition courtesy of him. Personally, I would leave home just to watch him pass, cheer and walk back home,” he said.
Kokoyo said Jonathan never held a grudge and he would tell you when he did not like something.
Selina Suge, a former councillor, said Jonathan played a fatherly role to the hundreds of people he lived with.
Ms Suge said the first-born son of the former president was a man who wished to see everyone lead a happy life. She described Jonathan as a mentor.
“He would assist all people and never discriminated against anyone. Those who sought help from him never regretted,” Suge said.
The former civic leader said Jonathan allowed them to graze their animals on his land because he had vowed he would not watch as villagers’ animals die in times of drought.
Jonathan, she added, had initiated many development projects in the area. These included schools and health centres.
The community, she said, had lost an important person. “We have lost a leader; a man who used his own resources on development programmes.”
Jonathan also donated ten acres of land for the construction of Jonathan K Moi Primary School, a public institution near his home.
Tomno Kigen, another resident, said he knew Jonathan as he grew up and that he had taught them the need to practise cash crop farming.
Kigen said Jonathan always pushed them to use all available resources to improve their lives.
Notably, Jonathan initiated Koibat Highland Water - an initiative meant to educate locals on the need to conserve water catchment areas.
Residents described Jonathan as a brilliant, selfless man who played a key role in improving the lives of his people. His actions, they said, would remain with them forever.
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