Could This Man Be President? Can His Vast Wealth Buy The Presidency?
Picture shows Nicholas Biwott and former President Moi discussing something. Moi once described Biwott as a Kirigit whom he could not abandon. In the Kalenjin language this means the cow that leads the rest of the herd home.
It is said that the day Moi assumed the office of President of the republic of Kenya in an acting capacity for 90 days, following the death of President Kenyatta in the early hours of August 22nd 1978, a man who was destined to be very powerful in his government was heading to Industrial area in Nairobi on foot. He had a hard day of manual labor ahead of him to earn his daily bread at some factory. That man's name was Mark Too, whom many believe is a biological son of Moi (don't ask me from which woman, because I don't know).
On the same day, some little known civil servant who had already unsuccessfully tried out his hand at politics was waking up to a day that he must have carefully planned for, for many years. I say this because the speed and precision with which he moved with over the next few years was definitely something that had been carefully planned over many years. Within a very short time, that man moved from being an unknown hard-up for cash former civil servant to becoming one of the richest Kenyans who ever lived. His name is Nicholas Biwott.
The first time I met the rather diminutive MP for Kerio South, was at a function for one of the Aga Khan's numerous interests in Kenya. It was 1986 and few people even realized that this was the most powerful man in President Moi's government.
I had been informed earlier that the man used to stammer, but somehow this aspect had mysteriously vanished shortly after Moi came to power in 1978. Biwott spoke softly and with a heavy accent that told you immediately that he belonged to the same Kalenjin tribe the then President hailed from. But he was the sort of man that was easy to ignore and so I never really though about that encounter for a number of years. A few years earlier, and prior to the 1982 coup attempt this man's name had come up as one of the three individuals who caused a stir in the early days of the Moi presidency by regularly rididng with him in the presidential limousine. Nairobians cynically called them "the president's three wives." They were Nicholas Biwott, GG Kariuki and Charles Njonjo. Everybody realized that the 3 had to be very close to the president. Still nobody took much notice of Biwott.
All that changed shortly after the murder of former foreign minister Robert Ouko. The Internet had yet to come but people were already making use of fax technology to pass on news. Some Ugandan newspaper published a very detailed account of how Ouko had died in the presence of Moi when Biwott suddenly drew a pistol and shot him. By that time, Ouko had already been seriously tortured by security agents. That incident brought out the ruthless nature of this man whom Kenyans knew so little about.
By this time, Biwott had already become the most feared cabinet minister since the days of Mbiyu Koinange, President Kenyatta's bossom buddy. One day he quipped I parliament about the need for any person of the make species and especially a politician to be "a man, a total man." Thus he earned the nick name Total Man.
It was clear that as Kenyans fought for the reinstatement of multi-partyism, Biwott was a major hindrance in any effort to get President Moi to soften his stance towards allowing more political parties. Biwott became the most loathed cabinet minister.
To understand how deep and total this hatred was, it is useful to note that newspaper editors in Nairobi quickly realized that their papers sold very poorly if they had a headline with the name Biwott on it. But the Nation set a record that is unrivalled to this day, when it carried a headline detailing the arrest of Biwott and Internal security PS Hezekiah Oyugi in 1991. That day over 331,000 copies of the Nation newspaper flew off the newspaper stands at a ferocious rate as Kenyans hungrily took in, with glee, the news that they had waited for and fantasized about for years. Alas, the whole thing was some façade from tricky Moi, to cool political temperatures and pressure on his government. It is said that Biwott was held for a few hours at a luxury facility within the GSU (General Service Unit) headquarters in Nairobi. He was released shortly after and that was the end of that matter.
Biwott has also been caught up in various sexual scandals. The embarrassing "Auckland Bull" is widely believed to be Biwott. In the sensational incident reported in the press in the late 90s, a very senior member of a high-powered Kenyan delegation that included Pesident Moi himself, attempted to rape a chamber maid at a hotel in Auckland. The identity of that official was kept secret from Kenyans. However word soon spread through the rumour mills of Nairobi like wild fire. It was the total man who had gone totally berserk over some young mzungu maid at the hotel in Auckland.