Daniel arap Moi

Daniel arap Moi

President Moi in 1979
2nd President of Kenya
In office
22 August 1978  30 December 2002
Vice President Mwai Kibaki
Josephat Karanja
George Saitoti
Musalia Mudavadi
Preceded by Jomo Kenyatta
Succeeded by Mwai Kibaki
Chairperson of the OAU
In office
24 June 1981  6 June 1983
Preceded by Siaka Stevens
Succeeded by Mengistu Haile Mariam
3rd Vice President of Kenya
In office
5 January 1967  22 August 1978
President Jomo Kenyatta
Preceded by Joseph Murumbi
Succeeded by Mwai Kibaki
Minister for Home Affairs
In office
President Jomo Kenyatta
Member of Parliament
In office
Succeeded by Gideon Moi
Constituency Baringo North (1963–66)
Baringo Central (1966–2002)
Personal details
Born (1924-09-02) 2 September 1924
Sacho, Baringo, Kenya Colony
Nationality Kenyan
Political party KANU
KADU (1960–1964)
Spouse(s) Lena Moi (d. 2004)[1]
Alma mater Tambach TTC
Profession Teacher
Religion Africa Inland Church
Awards Silver World Award (1981)
Nickname(s) Nyayo
Baba Moi
Baba wa Taifa
Mtukufu Rais

Daniel Toroitich arap Moi /ˈm/ MOH-ee (born 2 September 1924) is a former Kenyan politician who served as the second President of Kenya from 1978 to 2002. Through popular agitation and external pressures, he was forced to allow multiparty elections in 1992 and successfully led his party to victory and in the following general election in 1997. Prior to 1978, he served as the third Vice President of Kenya from 1967 to 1978.[2]

Moi is popularly known to Kenyans as "Nyayo", a Swahili word for "footsteps", as he often said he was following in the footsteps of the first President. He also earned the sobriquet "Professor of Politics" due to his long rule of 24 years, the longest in Kenyan history to date.[3]

Early life and entry into politics

Moi was born in Kurieng'wo village, Sacho division, Baringo County, and was raised by his mother Kimoi Chebii following the early death of his father. He is of the Kalenjin people. After completing his secondary education at Kapsabet High School, he attended Tambach Teachers Training College in the Keiyo District. He worked as a teacher from 1946 until 1955.

In 1955 Moi entered politics when he was elected Member of the Legislative Council for Rift Valley. In 1960 he founded the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) with Ronald Ngala to challenge the Kenya African National Union (KANU) led by Jomo Kenyatta. KADU pressed for a federal constitution, while KANU was in favour of centralism. The advantage lay with the numerically stronger KANU, and the British government was finally forced to remove all provisions of a federal nature from the constitution.

In 1957 Moi was re-elected Member of the Legislative Council for Rift Valley. He became Minister of Education in the pre-independence government of 1960–1961.


After Kenya gained independence on 12 December 1963, Kenyatta convinced Moi that KADU and KANU should be merged to complete the process of decolonisation. Accordingly, KADU dissolved and joined KANU in 1964. The only real challenge to KANU's dominance came from the Kenya People's Union, starting in 1966. That party was banned in 1969, and from that point onward Kenya was a de facto one-party state dominated by the Kĩkũyũ-Luo alliance. However, with an eye on the fertile lands of the rift valley populated by members of Moi's Kalenjin tribe, Kenyatta secured their support by first promoting Moi to Minister for Home Affairs in 1964, and then to vice-president in 1967. As a member of a minority tribe Moi was also an acceptable compromise for the major tribes. Moi was elected to the Kenyan parliament in 1963 from Baringo North. Since 1966 until his retirement in 2002 he served as the Baringo Central MP and only served as a vice-president until 1978 when he became the president.[4]

However, Moi faced opposition from the Kikuyu elite known as the Kiambu Mafia, who would have preferred one of their own to be eligible for the presidency. This resulted in an attempt by the constitutional drafting group to change the constitution to prevent the vice-president automatically assuming power in the event of the president's death. The presence of this succession mechanism might have led to dangerous political instability if Kenyatta died, given his advanced age and perennial illnesses. However, Kenyatta withstood the political pressure and safeguarded Moi's position.


Presidential Standard of Daniel Toroitich arap Moi

When Jomo Kenyatta died on 22 August 1978, Moi succeeded him. He was popular, with widespread support all over the country. He toured the country and came into contact with the people everywhere, which was in great contrast to Kenyatta's imperial style of governing behind closed doors. However, political realities dictated that he would continue to be beholden to the Kenyatta system which he had inherited intact, including the nearly dictatorial powers vested in the presidency. Despite his popularity, Moi was still too weak to consolidate his power. From the beginning, anticommunism was an important theme of Moi's government; speaking on the new President's behalf, Vice-President Mwai Kibaki bluntly stated, "There is no room for communists in Kenya."[5]

On 1 August 1982, lower-level Air Force personnel, led by Senior Private Grade-I Hezekiah Ochuka and backed by university students, attempted a coup d'état to oust Moi. The putsch was quickly suppressed by military and police forces commanded by Chief of General Staff Mahamoud Mohamed.[6] To this day it appears that the attempt by two independent groups to seize power contributed to the failure of both, with one group making its attempt slightly earlier than the other.

Moi took the opportunity to dismiss political opponents and consolidate his power. He reduced the influence of Kenyatta's men in the cabinet through a long running judicial enquiry that resulted in the identification of key Kenyatta men as traitors. Moi pardoned them but not before establishing their traitor status in the public view. The main conspirators in the coup, including Ochuka were sentenced to death, marking the last judicial executions in Kenya. He appointed supporters to key roles and changed the constitution to establish a de jure one-party state. However, the country had effectively been a one-party state since 1969. The amendments effectively gave Moi complete political control over the country.

Kenya's academics and other intelligentsia did not accept this and the universities and colleges became the origin of movements that sought to introduce democratic reforms. However, Kenyan secret police infiltrated these groups and many members moved into exile. Marxism could no longer be taught at Kenyan universities. Underground movements, e.g. Mwakenya and Pambana, were born.

Moi's regime now faced the end of the Cold War, and an economy stagnating under rising oil prices and falling prices for agricultural commodities. At the same time the West no longer dealt with Kenya as it had in the past, when it was viewed as a strategic regional outpost against communist influences from Ethiopia and Tanzania. At that time Kenya had received much foreign aid, and the country was accepted as well governed with Moi as a legitimate leader and firmly in charge. Western allies deliberately overlooked the increasing degree of political repression, including the use of torture at the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers. Some of the evidence of these torture cells was eventually to be exposed in 2003 after Mwai Kibaki became President.[7]

However, a new thinking emerged among Western policymakers after the end of the Cold War, and as Moi increasingly was viewed as a despot. Foreign aid was withheld pending compliance with economic and political reforms. One of the key conditions imposed on his regime, especially by the United States through fiery ambassador Smith Hempstone, was the restoration of a multi-party system. Despite his own lack of enthusiasm for the multiparty system, Moi managed to win over his party who were pro-single party, single-handedly convincing the delegates at a convened KANU conference at Kasarani in December 1991.

Moi won elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by political violence on both sides. Moi skilfully exploited Kenya's mix of ethnic tensions in these contests, especially smaller tribes' ever-present fear of domination by the larger tribes. In the absence of an effective and organised opposition, Moi had no difficulty in winning. Although it is also suspected that electoral fraud may have occurred, the key to his victory in both elections was a divided opposition. He always won the election with a minority vote of about 30% against the opposition who had a combined 70%, which was nonetheless of no consequence because it was subdivided among the opposition who had failed to unite.

Criticism and corruption allegations

In 1999 the findings of NGOs like Amnesty International[8] and a special investigation by the United Nations[9] were published which indicated that human rights abuses were prevalent in Kenya under the Moi regime.

Reporting on corruption and human rights abuses by British reporter Mary Anne Fitzgerald from 1987–88 resulted in her being vilified by the government and finally deported. Moi was implicated in the 1990s Goldenberg scandal and subsequent cover-ups, where the Kenyan government subsidised exports of gold far in excess of the foreign currency earnings of exporters. In this case, the gold was smuggled from Congo, as Kenya has negligible gold reserves. The Goldenberg scandal cost Kenya the equivalent of more than 10% of the country's annual GDP.

Half-hearted inquiries that began at the request of foreign aid donors never amounted to anything substantial during Moi's presidency. Although it appears that the peaceful transfer of power to Mwai Kibaki may have involved an understanding that Moi would not stand trial for offences committed during his presidency, foreign aid donors reiterated their requests and Kibaki reopened the inquiry. As the inquiry has progressed, Moi, his two sons, Philip and Gideon (now a member of Parliament), and his daughter June, as well as a host of high-ranking Kenyans, have been implicated. In testimony delivered in late July 2003, Treasury Permanent Secretary Joseph Magari recounted that in 1991, Moi ordered him to pay Ksh34.5 million ($460,000) to Goldenberg, contrary to the laws then in force.[10]

In October 2006, Moi was found by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes to have taken a bribe from a Pakistani businessman, to award a monopoly of duty-free shops at the country's international airports in Mombasa and Nairobi. The businessman, Ali Nasir, claimed to have paid Moi US$2 million in cash to obtain government approval for the World Duty Free Limited investment in Kenya.[11]

On 31 August 2007, WikiLeaks published a secret report that laid bare a web of shell companies, secret trusts and frontmen that his entourage had used to funnel hundreds of millions of pounds into nearly 30 countries.[12][13]


Moi was constitutionally barred from running in the 2002 presidential elections. Some of his supporters floated the idea of amending the constitution to allow him to run for a third term, but Moi preferred to retire, choosing Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first President, as his successor. Mwai Kibaki was elected President by a two to one majority over Kenyatta, which was confirmed on 29 December 2002. Kibaki was then wheelchair bound, having narrowly escaped death in a road traffic accident on the campaign trail.

President Moi with President George W. Bush in New York in 2001.

Moi handed over power in a poorly organised ceremony that had one of the largest crowds ever seen in Nairobi in attendance. The crowd was openly hostile to Moi.

After leaving office in December 2002, Moi lived in retirement, largely shunned by the political establishment. However, he still retained some popularity with the masses, and his presence never failed to gather a crowd. He spoke out against a proposal for a new constitution in 2005; according to Moi, the document was contrary to the aspirations of the Kenyan people. After the proposal was defeated in a November 2005 constitutional referendum, President Kibaki called President Moi to arrange for a meeting to discuss the way forward.

On 25 July 2007, Kibaki appointed Moi as special peace envoy to Sudan, referring to Moi's "vast experience and knowledge of African affairs" and "his stature as an elder statesman". In his capacity as peace envoy, Moi's primary task was to help secure peace in southern Sudan, where an agreement, signed in early 2005, was being implemented. At the time, the Kenyan press speculated that Moi and Kibaki were planning an alliance ahead of the December 2007 election.[14] On 28 August 2007, Moi announced his support for Kibaki's re-election and said that he would campaign for Kibaki. He sharply criticised the two opposition Orange Democratic Movement factions, arguing that they were tribal in nature.[15][16]

Moi owns the Kiptagich Tea Factory, established in 1979, which has been involved in controversy. In 2009 the factory was under threat of being closed down by the government during the Mau Forest evictions.[17]

Personal life

Daniel arap Moi married Lena Moi (born Helena Bommet) in 1950, but they separated in 1974, before his presidency. Lena died in 2004. Daniel arap Moi has eight children, five sons and three daughters. Among the children are Gideon Moi (Senator , Baringo County), Jonathan Toroitich (a former rally driver) and Philip Moi (a retired army officer).[18][19] His older and only brother William Tuitoek died in 1995.[20] He is a member of the Africa Inland Mission Church.[21]



See also


  1. John Kamau (17 November 2013), The First Lady Kenya never had, retrieved 18 November 2013
  2. State House. "Profile of Daniel arap Moi". State House. Archived from the original on 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  3. "Moi: the ruthless 'professor of politics'". The Age. 16 October 2002. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  4. Hon. Wanyiri Kihoro (2007) Politics and Paliamenterians in Kenya 1944–2007 Center for Multiparty Democracy
  5. Miller, Norman and Rodger Yeager. Kenya: The Quest for Prosperity (second edition). Page 173.
  6. Society. Nyamora Communications Limited. 1992. p. 12.
  7. News From Africa, March 2003: Stunning revelations
  8. "Kenya". Amnesty International Report 2000. Retrieved 12 December 2005.
  9. "UN Special Rapporteur". Misc. reports concerning abuse of human rights in Kenya. Retrieved 12 December 2005.
  10. Kenya: Corruption Scandal William Karanja, World Press Review correspondent. From the October 2003 issue of World Press Review (Vol. 50, No. 10)
  11. International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) World Duty Free Company Ltd. v. Kenya (4 October 2006)
  12. The looting of Kenya under President Moi. WikiLeaks. 30 August 2007. Retrieved on 30 April 2014.
  13. The looting of Kenya. Guardian. 31 August 2007. Retrieved on 6 September 2011.
  14. C. Bryson Hull, Kenya names ex-leader special envoy to Sudan, Reuters (IOL), 26 July 2007.
  15. Moi supports Kibaki’s re-election, The Standard (Kenya), 28 August 2007.
  16. Lucas Barasa and Benjamin Muindi, "Kenya: Moi Endorses Kibaki for Second Term", The Nation (Nairobi), 28 August 2007.
  17. Daily Nation, 22 December 2009: MP vows to fight Moi eviction bid
  18. Ghanaweb.com, 15 April 2005: DOCUMENT: Rawlings' Speech at the APARC
  19. The Standard, 1 August 2004: Humble in life, great in death Archived 7 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. Daily Nation, 28 January 2002: A choice of seven grand homes: Which will Moi opt for?
  21. E. A. Livingstone; M. W. D. Sparks; R. W. Peacocke (12 September 2013). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. pp. 314–. ISBN 978-0-19-965962-3.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Daniel arap Moi.
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Murumbi
Vice-President of Kenya
1967  1978
Succeeded by
Mwai Kibaki
Preceded by
Jomo Kenyatta
President of Kenya
1978  2002
Succeeded by
Mwai Kibaki
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