From grass to grace – The life and times of Daniel Moi

Born to peasant herders, Moi rose from rags to affluence, occupying Kenya’s presidency for the longest period. He died on February 4, 2020.

Former President Daniel Arap Moi. He died on February 4, 2020, aged 95
Former President Daniel Arap Moi. He died on February 4, 2020, aged 95 [Photo/ Courtesy]

In Brief

– Moi, born a herder, was schooled by white missionaries.

– He left his teaching career in 1954 to join the Legislative Council, marking his entry into politics.

– He is arguably the country’s longest-serving president, having led Kenya for 24 years.

Kenyans woke up to shocking news on Tuesday, February 4 regarding the passing on of retired president Daniel Arap Moi. The announcement was made public through a proclamation by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The former head of state died aged 95.

The story of Daniel Arap Moi is the classic depiction of the phrase, ‘from grass to grace’, literally. Moi was born on September 2, 1924, in Sacho, today’s Baringo County and was raised by his uncle Chebii Kimoi after his father’s early demise. He schooled at Kapsabet High School before proceeding to Tambach Teachers Training College where he acquired his teaching profession. After college, Moi secured a teaching job, which he did dutifully from 1946 to 1954.

Former President Moi is dead

The longest-serving president in the land joined politics in 1954 after the resignation of John ole Tameno as the Rift Valley’s representative to the Legislative Council (LEGCO), Moi getting an easy nomination to the Council on October 18, 1955. It took avid persuasion from then government school inspector Moses Mudavadi, father to ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, to convince Moi to leave his job as Kabarnet Intermediate School Headmaster and take up the legislative position.

8 memorable quotes of former President Daniel Moi

Moi quickly rose through the ranks in independent Kenya, getting appointment as Kenya’s vice president in 1967. Moi served then president Jomo Kenyatta loyally, culminating into his ascension to the apex seat in 1978 after Kenyatta’s death. His tenure as president was marked by controversy as he was accused of high handedness and political intolerance, traits that at one point saw the international donors freeze aid to compel Moi to go slow on the iron fist ruling.

Leaders pay tribute to former president Daniel Moi

Moi exited the political scene in 2002, after leading the nation for a solid 24 years, and handed over power to then-president-elect Mwai Kibaki after his preferred successor Uhuru Kenyatta lost the poll. Moi has arguably been at the helm of Kenya’s power for the longest period, having served as vice president for 11 years and as president for 24 years.

Moi will be remembered for his efforts to unite the country through his popular Nyayo philosophy anchored on the pillars dubbed peace, love, and unity. His achievements while in power also extend to the execution of the 8-4-4 education system, the nod to allow multi-party democracy, minority groups empowerment programs and infrastructural development across the country.