News of the death of Kenya’s second President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi broke yesterday morning, leaving one school in Elgeyo Marakwet County at a loss over how to mourn a man it had sentimental attachment to.
The former Head of State is credited for single-handedly turning around Tambach High School to the modern establishment it is today.
Before his election to the Legislative Council (Legco) in 1955 to Represent Rift Valley region, Moi taught at the institution, then known as Government African School (GAS) in the late 1940s, and left a big mark.
The house where he lived at Tambach has since been renamed ‘House of Legacy’ and the school plans to make it a monument in remembrance of their pioneer black head teacher.
He is described as a humble teacher who used to counsel pupils instead of punishing them with a cane, which was the order of the day then.
The principal Michael Cheruiyot said Moi’s death had devastated them because of his contribution in the improvement of the school’s infrastructure.
“Mzee Moi breathed hope into the school. The buildings were very old and during one of his regular tours he was astounded by the aging buildings. He ordered the construction of a new tuition block that now houses the administration block, laboratory and 20 classrooms,” Mr Cheruiyot revealed yesterday.
In 2014, Moi presided over a funds drive to help the school construct a multi-purpose hall with a sitting capacity of 3,000.
“The project is yet to be completed and we had hoped that he is the one who would commission it. Now that it was his pet project, we hope other leaders will come forward and complete the multi-purpose hall that requires over Sh12 million,” he said.
The school community had fond memories of the retired president and his former house and other memorabilia will be kept and regularly maintained as a way of honouring his good deeds.
The iconic house where Moi lived while teaching at the school is now occupied by one of the school accountant.
The two-bedroomed house constructed by colonialists in 1930 is still in good shape save for rusting iron sheets.
Loyce Cheboi, the long-serving school accountant who is the current resident of the ‘House of Legacy’ considers herself lucky.
“I feel good and honoured to live in a house that our retired President lived in,” she said.
Ms Cheboi recalled Mzee Moi’s visit to the school in 2014. He enquired about the house and later sent former powerful Cabinet Minister, the late Nicholas Biwott, to assess its condition.
“Biwott showed up in my house and said he had been sent by Moi to establish the condition of his former house. It was as if the former President himself had come to the house. I was so elated,” Cheboi recalled yesterday in a telephone interview.
Elijah Kapkoros, a clerk who has worked for the school since 1989, said of the house: “This house has remained strong since 1930s. No facelift has ever been done though the iron sheets are beginning to rust, but they are still strong. The water tap used by Mzee is still intact and in use,” Kapkoros said.
He added: “As a community, we remember him (Moi) as a hero because he was one of us and he rose to become the country’s vice president and eventually the president from a teacher,” he said.
Philip Kimengich Cherono, 79, recalled how he was taught by Moi for two years before he 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 house to have tea prepared by his late wife Lena Moi,” Mr Cherono recollected. Cherono remembers playing with Moi’s children including the late Jonathan, Jemutai and Philip.
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