Moi’s life, from a humble teacher to longest serving president

Retired President Daniel Tororitich Arap Moi will be considered as one of the most influential politicians the country has ever had after being in power for a record 24 years.

Moi took over power following the death of first president Jomo Kenyatta but if his background was anything to go by, few would have anticipated he would rise to the highest echolons of politics in the Country.

Moi was born on 2nd September 1924 in Kabarak village Sacho Division in Baringo County.

A son of the Tugen sub-group of the Kalenjin community, he was given the name ‘Toroitich’  meaning ‘one who welcomes home cattle’ and hence spent most of his childhood taking up odd jobs like herding cattle to help his family make ends meet.

This is after his father Kimoi arap Chebii died in 1928 leaving 4-year-old Moi and his other siblings under the care of their mother who struggled to raise them in abject poverty.

It was until the 1930’s when he got lucky to be among the Kalenjin herds’ boys who were offered a chance to join the new Africa Inland Mission (AIM) School at Kabartonjo.

This is where he was also baptized and acquired his name ‘Daniel’; it was his academic brilliance that opened many opportunities for him.

Moi later joined Kapsabet Boys High School before transitioning to Tambach Teachers Training College and later became the Principal at Tambach Government African Teachers’ College.

He had an intense devotion for Christianity and started playing an active role in the African Inland Church at an early age where he met his wife Hellena Bomett, who would later changed her name to Lena Moi.

Lena was a primary school teacher and would visit local churches accompanied by Moi.

The two got married in 1950, a few years before Moi started engaging in politics prompting Lena to quit her career as a trained teacher and stay at home to raise her family.

The couple had their two children Jennifer and the late Jonathan Moi in the 1950s while staying at Tambach Government School.

They later had five more children Phillip, Doris, John Mark, June, Raymond Moi (Rongai MP) and Gideon Moi (Baringo County Senator ) before the collapse of their marriage in 1974 which led to a divorce in 1979.

This is what earned Lena the title of ‘the first lady Kenya never had’.

She appeared in the limelight as the wife of the country’s vice-president but her public presence slowly faded in the 1970’s until her death in 2004.

But prior to their divorce, the quiet life of the couple as teachers was interrupted when Moi quit his job as the headmaster of Kabarnet Intermediate School and took up the position of Rift Valley’s representative in the Legislative Council of the Colonial government which fell vacant in 1954 after the resignation of John ole Tameno.

Moi never went back to the classroom as a teacher but instead begun his life in politics which ended when he retired as Kenya’s longest-serving president in 2002.

Moi celebrated his 95th birthday on September 2nd 2019.


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