Jackson Kibor [Photo: Kevin Tunoi]

Eldoret farmer and politician Jackson Kibor is rich in both laughter, and wealth. He was in the news recently following his divorce from Josephine Jepkoech, his wife of over 50 years. Kibor, a friend of retired President Daniel arap Moi, has his vast wealth pegged on endless tracts of land and property.

But how did this former policeman amass all his wealth?  Well, Kibor coined his fortunes playing darts, would you believe it? He narrated his rags to riches story by reminding The Nairobian of those humble beginnings when “I used to take poles and firewood to school to pay fees, but when I was in Standard Five, they insisted on money - which I did not have. I dropped out. I never saw my father, and my mother died when I was very small.”

Born in Kipkabus, Uasin Gishu County in 1934, his mother had moved with him to Nandi County before her death but he went back to Kipkabus and began doing casual jobs at a tanning facility in the area. Kibor told The Nairobian that his financial ascent began when he left the tanning company for a lorry driver’s job for the late millionaire Jonathan Kibogy in Uasin Gishu County, earning Sh75 a month. That was in 1958, five years before Kenya became independent.

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Kibor notes that his rise to stardom began when he left the tanning company and began driving Lorries for the late millionaire Jonathan Kibogy in Uasin Gishu.

Jackson Kibor [Photo: Kevin Tunoi]

“I used to drive lorries transporting maize and potatoes across East Africa, life was tough and I learnt the important lesson of saving my salary. After some time accumulated an amount I used to purchase my own potatoes that I sold in Kampala,” he recalls, adding “I used to buy a bag of potatoes at Sh6 per bag in Chepkorio and Metkei areas using Sh3 per bag for brokers and transport, while in Kampala I would sell a bag at Sh16. I saved the profits which I used to buy my own Canter lorry and got another lorry shortly after” besides transporting maize using the cargo train from Kipkabus and Ainabkoi areas.

But it was at the police college where he honed his skills in darts and when a competition pitting contestants from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania came calling, Kibor was at his best. Though it was held in Eldoret “It was an East African event. My win was captured in the dailies to the surprise of my family and friends. The car was valued at Sh17, 600.”

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But Kibor turned his life around by making in real coin through large scale maize and wheat farming. His first large piece of land measured 836 acres in Kipkabus. Buying began through winning Sh35,000 in a darts championship alongside a brand new showroom car worth Sh17, 600. “I borrowed Sh55, 000 from the Land Bank and added to the Sh35,000 and bought my first land measuring 836 acres in Kipkabus where I grew maize and did a lot of dairy farming. My first wife Mary helped manage the farm and repaid the loan before I married Josephine in 1965, who also stayed on the same farm,” says Kibor who was granted prayers by the court to divorce Josephine.

Jackson Kibor house in Chepkoilel, Uasin Gishu [Photo: Kevin Tunoi]

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His second foray was in acquiring 1,543 acres in Kabenes area at Sh220, 000 in 1969 before purchasing 1,160 acres in Kitale which had 500 Friesian cows at Sh1.5 million.  Then Kibor struck the Mother Lode with 357 acres in Moiben at Sh12 million - the only farm not bought from White settlers. He used loans and serviced them from proceeds from his businesses.