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Behind the tough demeanour, Moi had a gentle soul

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As told by Caleb Atemi, a biographer and communication consultant.

A warm smile flashed across his face as he gently stirred the tea before handing us a cup each.

With trembling hands, I took my cup of tea. My colleague, the late Mohammed Amin, placed his camera down and picked up his cup with his bionic arm. We exchanged glances as we sipped our tea. He observed us for a few seconds then took a seat opposite us and broke the silence.

“Huyu Muindi wenyu ako na pesa mingi sana?” (Your Asian man has a lot of money?) The question was directed at me.

“Ndio Mtukufu Rais. Ana pesa chungu nzima,” (Yes your Excellency. He has a lot of money), I replied in reference to the State House guest we were waiting for, His Highness the Aga Khan.

“Nitamfinya mpaka atoe mingi,” (I will squeeze him until he releases a lot of it), he said with a playful glint in the eye before bursting into warm, hearty laughter, sweeping away the initial apprehension and discomfort that had bound us to our seats. The tension in the room evaporated and we settled down to enjoy the hospitality extended by President Daniel arap Moi.

Mohammed Amin and I had arrived at State House, Nairobi, much earlier than the other media crew. The spiritual leader of the Ismaili community, His Highness the Aga Khan, was visiting Kenya in 1997 and was scheduled to meet President Moi at State House.

I had tasted his wrath before. Those earlier and troubled encounters hung over my head like a dark cloud. Here was a man who used his commanding voice and larger-than-life persona at will to issue edicts and threats to media personnel. I had never imagined that he had a warm, almost playful side, to his personality. His serving us tea and even stirring in the sugar for us came both as a shock and a pleasant surprise.

With time, it occurred to me that there were different facets to the man Moi, all of which were a genuine representation of the President. He

oscillated between manifesting his autocratic and his self-declared title of “Professor of Kenyan politics” and Moi the down-to-earth soul man, with a finger on the pulse of the nation.

The child within

The tall, handsome boy with a quiet nature, raised as an orphan in the hills and valleys of Tambach in Baringo, took charge of the man whenever he was alone or in the company of ordinary citizens. When he let his guard down long enough, you would see him jump with joy and laugh heartily. He was known for spontaneity — breaking into song and a jig when the moment moved him, or to cuddle a child by the roadside.

Moi was literally raised by the Church.

Born into the Tugen subgroup of the Kalenjin community, he studied at the African Inland Mission School before training as a teacher.

READ ALSO:   No commercial trucks on Nairobi – Eldoret highway during Moi funeral

He was only four years old when his father, Kimoi arap Cheboi, died in 1928. Little is known about his mother, who also died when he was a child.

After his father’s death, the church took over his life. His elder brother, Tuitoek, became his guardian and handed him over to the new African Inland Mission (AIM) School in Kabartonjo. That was in 1934.

This would explain Moi’s obsession with the church, and particularly the African Inland Church (AIC). It infused in him certain values that were stamped into his leadership style when he served as the second President of Kenya.

It is said that after his separation from his wife Lena in 1974, Moi became a single father.

He balanced his busy schedule as Kenya’s Vice-President with the task of raising his eight children. Although the older children were young adults at the time, he handled all of them with an iron rod. He required each one of them to adhere to strict discipline.

Infectious generosity

Moi was also renowned for his generosity and loyalty. A retired prisons officer who in the 1970s worked on the farms of both Vice-President

Daniel arap Moi and President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta says that goodness flowed naturally from Moi’s hands.

“Every Friday, before we broke off for the weekend during the change of shift at his Kabarak farm, we would each be given several kilos of meat, some maize flour, cooking oil and money to take to our wives. He always asked after our families and personally bade us goodbye,” recalls Anderson Kalama.

Kalama says most askaris would pray earnestly to be posted to Moi’s farm instead of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s farm, since: “Kwa Moi mazuri yalikuwa yanatiririka kila kukicha” (On Moi’s farm goodies would flow all the time).

Kalama’s assertion is confirmed by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, who says that no one who visited Moi left hungry or empty-handed.

Most people who went to see him with challenges had their problems solved immediately. Lusaka says all his employees were given provisions and money to take to their families every weekend or whenever they had a holiday break.

“With every visit, he would be concerned about what people would eat,” reminisces Lusaka, “Once, when I was the district commissioner in his home district, one December holiday Moi tasked me to organise a delegation of 200 people to visit his home. Lo and behold, on the material day, there were over 2,000 guests! Moi laughed and exclaimed, “Kwani wamekuja dunia nzima?” (Did the whole world come?) Then he directed his staff to ensure that enough cows and sheep were slaughtered to ensure that there was enough food for everyone, and his instructions were followed to the letter,” says Lusaka.

READ ALSO:   More than 10 heads of state to attend Moi’s burial 

Loyalty

Moi’s loyalty was perhaps influenced by the kindness and love he received from people not of his clan or immediate family.

In other words, perfect strangers who made an impression on the young Moi as he was growing up. Among them were the family of Paul Bomett, the parents of his future wife, Lena, who were pioneer Christians in Eldama Ravine. They took a liking to the well-mannered boy who sought shelter at their home during the school holidays. Since his home was 160 kilometres from school, Moi needed a home and the Bomett family

provided it. It is during these stay that he became friends with their daughter Lena, whom he later married.

He would also stay at the home of Isaiah Chesire, another Christian family. Chesire was the father of Kanu nominated Senator Zipporah Kittony and former Eldoret North MP Reuben Chesire. Throughout his political life, Moi remained close to the Chesires and Kittonys. He greatly cherished family ties with those who worked under him. Former administrator David Musila relives such moments in his memoir, Seasons of Hope: “Ever the gracious host, President Moi received my family with great joy when we visited him. We had a wonderful afternoon together and relived the old days when he used to visit us in Nyeri.’’

Obsession with education

His teaching career and his journey through school imbued in him an obsession with education. He was a founder and partner of major schools in Kenya, including Moi Educational Centre and Sunshine Secondary School in Nairobi, as well as Kabarak High School in Nakuru County, and Sacho Primary and Secondary schools in Baringo County.

The CEO of Elkis Communications Limited, George Adulu, says: “Having grown up in the ’80s and ’90s, I can’t help but compare Moi with his successors, Mwai Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta. I think President Moi was truly a teacher at heart, and as a father, he really cared for children in Kenya, going by his immense efforts to make education accessible to all. It was during Moi’s tenure that education was truly not only the greatest equaliser in life, but also the most treasured key in life and to success. That it didn’t matter how poor you were born, with education, even the poorest of the poor could ascend the ladder of success and gain entry into the top echelons of society.”

Moi also single-handedly ensured that hundreds of girls beat various odds to receive quality education. During my stay of duty as public relations manager at the National Social Security Fund, I encountered another softer side of Moi.

I had visited Moi Girls High School, Eldoret, to present some cheques to help with the school’s educational programme when then Principal Cherambos opened up to me: “Our school used to expel any girl who became pregnant, but Moi, who was the patron of the school, became quite upset when he learnt of this policy and ordered a stop to the practice. ‘When you expel a girl because she is pregnant, you expose her

READ ALSO:   Mwili yangu si mzuri, I’m going to Nairobi and I don’t know whether I will come back: Moi to friends

to double jeopardy. She might go home and become pregnant again. Why not counsel and guide her then allow her to finish her education?’ he asked us.”

She said that under Moi’s watchful eye, hundreds of girls completed their studies and Moi often paid for their education through to university.

Patience, resilience and tolerance
Moi’s tenure as vice-president was tumultuous.

He was constantly fought by members of Kenyatta’s Kikuyu community, who did not want him to ascend to power in the event of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s demise. Despite being subjected to public humiliation numerous times, ridicule and vicious hate campaigns, he maintained his cool and patiently served his ailing boss. Patience, tolerance and etiquette are values that many would learn from him.

Former Vice-President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, who served in Moi’s Cabinet for many years, speaks of these values in his autobiography, Against All Odds: “In the meantime, I had metamorphosed into a formidable student of patience, tolerance, etiquette, and silent observation. Kanu had taught me the lesson of patience, the challenge was how to master the ability to walk the political tightrope, balance the loyalty stakes and still emerge as a respectable individual as opposed to a mere charlatan and sycophant or disruptive noise maker.”

Kalonzo says that one could not work with Moi and fail to be influenced by his self-discipline, meticulous time management, strict diet and love for fitness.

Religious nature

His religious fervour spread to those around him. Lusaka recalls that, as a district officer in Eldama Ravine, “Moi turned me into a very religious man. I even bought a huge Bible with a zip.” Moi had entrusted the young DO with overseeing the construction of a church. He visited the site almost every week to monitor the progress. Once you won his trust, he enhanced your influence. Lusaka says he often contended with leaders who were destroying forests in the district and Moi gave him all the support he needed. “At one time during a leaders’ meeting, President Moi hailed me for doing a good job in the district. Then he told me: ‘Bwana DC, chunga hiyo misitu.’” (Mr DC, take good care of the forests).

As Moi is laid to rest, many may still harbour genuine anger and pain against him because they encountered his overbearing and oftentimes tyrannical political personality.

However, those who interacted with his softer side will forever hear an echo of his near-prophetic words towards the end of his 24-year reign when he told Kenyans: “Right now you are clamouring for my departure, but one day you will miss me.”


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Carpenter hopes payday in sight in 27-year fight over presidential seats

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For the past 27 years, Solomon Njoroge Kiore has battled with the government over a debt that was initially Sh195 million but has now ballooned to more than Sh500 million in an unpaid bill for presidential furniture he delivered.

Tomorrow (Monday), Mr Kiore will go to the High Court in Milimani hoping that the end is in sight as he is supposed to get a hearing date for a case that has had many twists and turns.

In 1992, Mr Kiore, the proprietor of Furncon, a furniture company, won a government tender to supply presidential furniture but down the line, the deal went sour when the military officials returned the chairs a year after President Daniel arap Moi had used them — allegedly without payment.

The chairs had been acquired through the Ministry of Defence and approved by State House, according to court documents.

The government has denied failing to make the payment and he went to court to seek redress in 2007.

Although Mr Moi used the chairs for a year, Furncon says the military returned them to his workshop.

But the parties could not agree on the amount to be paid, with the businessman citing lack of goodwill on the side of the state.

Sh527 million

That year, Mr Kiore was seeking Sh527 million, being the price, court costs and storage charges.

He told the court he did not receive any invitation to negotiate a settlement.

Then last year, Symon Yator Cheberek, a military colonel, took over the case after Attorney General Kihara Kariuki appointed him to represent the state in all civil matters in which the Ministry of Defence is a party.

High Court judge Joseph Sergon allowed Col Cheberek to act for the state, but Mr Kiore objected this saying allowing a military officer to take up the matter was tantamount to court-martialling him.

“There can never be a situation where a civilian can be in court one on one with a distinctive disciplined and uniformed force,” he stated in an affidavit on March 25, 2019.

Col Cheberek said he is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the Attorney General was in order to appoint him.

Justice Sergon has declined the recusal plea, saying the claims of bias could not be proved.

 Now, Mr Kiore says his business has died, as he can no longer use the premises where he has kept the chair as it is an instrument of power.

“It was used by a President for a year. It is treasured and therefore no one is supposed to touch it. My business has suffered immensely because of this seat,” he says in his court documents.

In a letter dated May 10, 2001, the Attorney General informed Mr Kiore that the Department of Defence had extended a without-prejudice offer purely out of honour and respect for presidential instruments.

“However, having realised that your claims include other items worth millions of shillings reflective of your other financial issues not related to the chair in question, it has not been possible to formally make the offer to you,” states the letter signed by V Onyango, a deputy litigation officer at the State Law Office.

Admission of liability

The offer, the officer states, is not the government’s admission of liability, because “the said chairs were ordered by the Agricultural Society of Kenya”.

He says the seat was made under strict supervision of the military and State House staff.

The firm says it was asked to make more furniture for presidential lounges at the Eldoret Moi Airbase and Kahawa Garrison and deliver the chairs to the Agricultural Society of Kenya offices in Nairobi for a three-day presidential function.

But the President ordered that the furniture remain at the ASK offices, according to a letter by the ASK dated August 5, 1999.

Now, Furncon wants a declaration that the ownership of the items was passed on to the government in September 1992, under the National Flag, Emblems and Names Act and as such they are instruments of power.

by nation africa


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Go Green na Optiven

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It is the responsibility of everyone to tender and care for the planet for better and healthier future generations.
We call upon you to join any of these categories:
1. Those who are more environmentally friendly
2. Those who are ecologically responsible in both their decision making and lifestyles
3. Those who protect environment
4. Those who protect and sustain the natural resources in their area of business
5. Those who help to conserve resources like water, air and vegetation
6. Those who produce eco-friendly products, thus preventing pollution of our air, water and land
7. Those who can prove that they have been using Green Energy/clean energy such as solar power or if using conventional energy; they are using eco-friendly bulbs and that save energy.
How can each play a role this is a highlight of just but a few but you can  put your   role that  you are doing  to promote the  green agenda
1. Builders/Engineers/Architects/Interiors designers
i. Use of solar energy/ Use of solar panels
ii. Use of Energy saving bulbs, florescent tubes
iii. Use of organic paints, light friendly windows
iv. Use of Eco-friendly toilets
v. Harvesting of rain water from roof tops, use roofs that are Eco-friendly, ensure that water does not go to waste
vi. Proof of reduction of water bills as a result of going green
vii. Water recycling technologies like Bio digester
viii. Those whose provide green buildings, Eco-friendly homes
2. Farming, gardening, landscaping experts
i. Use of drip or sprinkler on not flooding water while gardening or farming
ii. Use of organic pesticides
iii. Use of organic manure
iv. Those who increase forests cover
3. Health businesses, Schools, Hospitals
i. Those providing natural skin care products & not petroleum or synthetic ingredients on the products
ii. Those offering advice on going green, creating awareness of going green
iii. Those who teach children on being a friend of the earth
iv. Those who buy from ethical farmers who are known to produce organic products
4. Transport industry, drivers, delivery companies and logistics firms/organizations
i. Those who reduce carbon emissions directly or indirectly
ii. Any Awareness of climate change
iii. Any knowledge of carbon emissions and how to reduce?
5. Property Owners within Optiven Projects
i. Planting of trees in their plots
ii. Adoption of water recycling technology
iii. Establishment of Green Spaces
iv. Proper waste disposal
6. SMEs
i. Those who recycle waste
ii. Those manufacturing from the recycled materials
iii. Those who take proper care of electronic wastes
iv. Tech companies that have a green policy on disposal of electric waste
v. SMEs that can prove awareness of global warming
7. Families
i. Those who adopt any of the going green initiative say family tree planting, planting a tree during birthday instead of having a birthday cake or doing both
ii. With children who are aware of climate change and also alive to ways of preventing in preventing it
iii. Families that are involved in separation of different form of waste and or engaged in any form of recycling
8. Hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, entertainment joins
i. Provision of organic food to customers
ii. Support of local farmers who do organic farming
iii. Awareness of climate change and its risks to humanity
9. Decision makers- checking the green component in your venture
i. Any policy decisions on going green
ii. Awareness on global warming
iii. Any knowledge of implementation of United Nations Development Goals
10. Children: If you are a child who is school going or otherwise and you have started being sensitive to the planet by doing conservation activities
11. Others: If you  believe that you are a friend of the planet, let us know
#SaveTheEarth
#SaveOurPlanet
#GoingGreen=Healthy Families
George Wachiuri
Trustee
Optiven Foundation


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READ ALSO:   No commercial trucks on Nairobi – Eldoret highway during Moi funeral
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VIDEO: Optiven CEO opens up about growing up in abject poverty, doing laundry for fellow students

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George Wachiuri, the CEO of Optiven Limited, has opened up about a side of him few people know about. Despite having built a multi-billion Shilling Real Estate Company and becoming one of the most recognisable names in the field, Wachiuri has remained a humble servant, who says he views his customers as associates and greatly respects and values his work mates. 

In an interview with Jeremy Damaris of Kenya Diaspora Media, he tells of how he struggled, lost money and friends, before rebounding “by the grace of God.”

A Certified Public Accountant – CPA (K) and is a former Lecturer at Daystar University, his entrepreneurial spirit developed early, and was awarded the Entreprenuer of the year 1997 by the University of Nairobi.

He is currently a PhD candidate at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

He holds a Masters’s degree in Business Administration (University of Nairobi), and a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing option) Degree from University of Nairobi.

Watch as he tells his amazing story in Gīkūyū


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