Retired President Daniel arap Moi’s 95th birthday yesterday rekindled memories of a young teacher described as humble, and who worked in Tambach, Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Moi taught at Tambach Elementary School also known as upper primary school in the late 1940s and early 1950s before joining politics.
The house the retired Head of State lived in on the picturesque Kerio Escarpment, for 10 years between 1946 and 1955, is still standing in the middle of Tambach Boys High School, 64 years after he left the institution to join politics. Back then Tambach was a primary school.
A member of staff at Tambach High School lives in the historic two-bedroom house located barely 50m from the institution’s administration block.
Elijah Kapkoros, a clerk who has worked at the school since 1989, said the house has been maintained since around 1930 when it was constructed by colonialists.
Moi was the headmaster, as explained by staff and one of his students.
The iron sheet roofing is still intact though rusty. The walls, windows and doors are slightly worn out.
“This house has been standing since 1930s. No facelift has been done. The iron sheets are beginning to rust but they are still strong,” Mr Kapkoros said.
The school clerk recalled moments when Mzee Moi would visit Tambach and would describe his former work place as his stepping stone into politics.
Kapkoros said there was need to preserve the house as one of the country’s artefacts, noting it forms part of Kenya’s history.
“A water tap used by mzee is still intact and in use to date. There was one toilet outside the house but that has since been replaced,” Kapkoros said as he showed The Standard around the compound.
A long-serving staffer described Moi as a thankful leader who remembered Tambach by returning to the institution to build a two-storey administration block.
Loyce Cheboi, the longest-serving school accountant, and who is the current occupant of the house Moi’s family once called home, considers herself lucky to be living in Moi’s former house.
Ms Cheboi said Moi visited Tambach in 2014 and inquired about the house he lived in when he was a teacher, and later sent former powerful Cabinet Minister Nicholas to assess its condition.
“Biwott showed up at my house and said he had been sent by Moi to establish the condition of his former house. I took it as if the former president himself had come to the house and I was elated,” Cheboi said.
She added: “I feel good and honoured to live in a house that our retired president once lived in.”
Cheboi said there was some furniture left by Moi when she moved into the house in 2003, but they were moved to the school’s store because they had become old.
“I want to tell Mzee congratulations for celebrating 95 years and wish that God gives him more years to continue sharing his wisdom with the younger generation,” said Cheboi, who has worked for the institution for more than 20 years.
At Kobil Village, about 20km from Tambach, we met Moi’s student Philip Kimengich Cherono, 79, grazing his cows near Sing’ore Girls High School.
The elderly Cherono recalled how he was taught by Moi for two years before he (Moi) was elected Member of the Legislative Council representing the Rift Valley region.
“He was a humble teacher. We were young boys and girls and we would go to his (Moi’s) house located within the school to have tea prepared by his wife,” Mr Cherono recalled.
He said he played with Moi’s children, including the late Jonathan, Jemutai and Philip who he recalls were very young at the time.
“I am grateful for my teacher Mr Moi and I wish him the best of luck. May he have 50 more years,” Cherono told The Standard.
He described Moi as a humble teacher who never caned pupils but counselled them whenever they made mistakes.
Since his retirement in 2002, Mzee Moi has led a quiet and eventful life operating between his two homes – Kabarnet Gardens in Nairobi and his expansive farm house at Kabarak.
He was president from 1978 to 2002. Before then, he served as vice president between 1967 and 1978, having joined politics in 1955.
He earlier founded Kenya Africa Democratic Union alongside Ronald Ngala to challenge the Kenya Africa National Union led by the first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
After Kenya attained independence, founding President Mzee Kenyatta appointed Moi to serve as Minister for Home Affairs in 1964 and promoted him to vice president three years later.
Moi served as Baringo North MP until 1966 when he was elected Baringo Central MP, a position he held until his retirement in 2002.
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