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The life and times Daniel Toroitich arap Moi

By Steven Mkawale | February 4th 2020 at 08:59:16 GMT +0300

Former President Daniel arap Moi who died this morning at Nairobi Hospital. [Archive, Standard]

Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was born on September 2, 1924 in a small village of Kurieng’wo in Sacho Location of Baringo District.

He was named after his father Kimoi arap Chebii a Sot clan herdsman whose ancestors had migrated from the slopes of Mt. Kenya. They settled in the Tugen Hills to avoid intermittent skirmishes with the Maasai in the 19th Century.

Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was the fifth child of Kabon, Chebii’s senior wife. Moi was named Toroitich which means ‘welcome home the cattle’ espousing how central cattle were in their existence.

At the age of four, Moi’s father died and his elder brother Tuitoek played a guardian role. It was Tuitoek who influenced him to go to school at an early age as a way of running away from poverty and injustices that characterised colonial rule.

Daniel Toroitich arap Moi married Helena (Lena) Bommet in 1950 and they had eight children;  three daughters and five sons, (Jennifer, Doris and adopted daughter June; Jonathan, Raymond, John Mark, Philip and Gideon).

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In 1950 he attended a course at the Jeans School (Kenya Institute of Administration) and was posted to Government t African School, Kabarnet where he taught teachers up to 1955.

In 1955 Daniel Toroitich arap Moi joined politics. His entry into politics followed a meeting with a group of freedom fighters under the command of Brig. Daniel Njuguna who visited him in June 1955. He was sympathetic to their cause and after feeding and protecting them for two weeks he gave them food and money to further their cause.

In October 1955 the electoral college selected Moi from a list of eight nominated candidates to fill a vacancy left by Joseph ole Tameno who resigned from  Legco (Legislative Council which was the colonial-era parliament).

Moi immersed himself in politics reluctantly. As he sat as a member of the Legislative Council with only other four African members on October 18th, 1955 Moi did not know what was in store for him. He however swiftly adapted to the new challenges and in the following year, he moved a motion in Legco demanding that African teachers be allowed to form their own association. Thus Kenya National Union of Teachers was formed and registered in 1957.

Brought up in solid Kalenjin culture, Moi is a firm believer in justice, honesty and fairness to all. He worked alongside other leaders like Eliud Mathu, Ronald Ngala and Masinde Muliro in agitating for the release of Jomo Kenyatta and greater African representation in the Legco.

In 1959, he led a group of leaders to visit Jomo Kenyatta in detention in Lodwar. Subsequently, Moi was among the Kenyan delegation under the auspices of the political party Kenya African Democratic Union, KADU, who went to the Lancaster House Constitutional  Conference of June 1960.

Just before independence (1961), Moi was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry for Education and later served in the ministries of Education and Local Government at age 37.

As all-conference chairman of KADU, Moi saw the intricacies of politics and opted for a united and nationalistic approach leading to the dissolution of KADU in November 1964.

In January 1967, Jomo Kenyatta appointed Toroitich arap Moi, now aged 43, as his Vice-President following the resignation of Mr Joseph Murumbi.

Moi became President following the death of Mzee Kenyatta on 22 August 1978.

Since independence in 1963, Moi won all elections as a Member of Parliament for Baringo Central and as President in both single-party and the multi-party era.

His leadership saw many ups and downs. The major test was in August 1982 when a detachment of Airforce soldiers attempted to overthrow his government but they were crushed.

Daniel Toroitich arap Moi travelled widely in search for peace in Africa and the world. Many a time he was called upon as a president to provide peacekeeping forces in troubled parts of the world like Chad, Uganda, Namibia, Mozambique, Iran/Iraq, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Liberia, Morocco, Angola, Serbia/ Croatia, D.R. Congo, Sierra Leone and East Timor.

At various fora, Moi has stressed that unless Africans cement their unity and solidarity, solutions to the many internal and external hazards afflicting Africa will remain elusive.

He has argued that the hard-won independence stood in jeopardy unless Africans embraced co-operation as a means of faster and more diversified economic development.

Moi supported the formation of regional economic bodies to increase trade and as a means for the developing countries to have a united voice in the global economy.

Succession politics

After the failed attempt in 1982 by a section in 1982 coupled with opposition central and Nyanza provinces,  Moi ruled the country with a firm hand.

 During the Cold War era Moi decided to build good relations with the West, particularly the United States and the  UK  to counter the geopolitical designs of the Soviet Union.

But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West, especially the US, Britain and Germany put pressure on  Moi to reform the country's politics and civil rights.

Among the few groups who dared to criticize the regime of Moi, were the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants.

 In 1991, the multiparty system was re-introduced.

Moi won the presidential elections of 1992 and 1997  with the opposition challenging the results in unsuccessful court petitions.

In accordance with the constitution which had limited the presidency to two terms,  Daniel Toroitich arap Moi did not participate in the 2002 presidential election. He settled on Uhuru Kenyatta who lost the race to the opposition's  Mwai Kibaki.

Moi hoped Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta, would win the elections and that the KANU would remain in the saddle.

 The Rainbow Coalition of Mwai Kibaki won the presidential election. On December 30, 2002 Kibaki was installed as president of Kenya.


Daniel arap Moi KANU
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