A New Moi is bornAfter the bloody botched 1982 coup, Moi completely changed.
Time magazine had reported during the week of the coup that Daniel had survived the lion’s den referring to Moi. Indeed he had and clearly he was not taking any more chances after that.
But first Moi quickly “divorced” two of his three wives, the Kikuyu ones of course. Namely Charles Njonjo and GG Kariuki. He then went on to dismantle every centre of influence and key contact that was ever linked to Njonjo. But not before destroying the man politically in public by instituting what must be the only successful commission of enquiry in the history of Kenya. In this particular commission the report was not allowed to gather dust in State House. Barely a few weeks after the end of the enquiry Moi acted on it and pardoned Njonjo. But the damage had been done and his mission accomplished. To his credit in forgiving Njonjo Moi must have realized that there was a lot he had to thank the man for. Including the fact that he helped him survive the tumultuous 12 years he went through as Kenyatta’s VP.
Moi then exercised his immense executive powers and called for a snap election in 1983 where he was careful to ensure that no Njonjo man came back to parliament. Parliamentary elections in a few constituencies had to be rigged but generally it was a very easy mission because the Kenyan public was very much outraged at the sheer arrogance of Charles Njonjo and in many parts of the country was not prepared to vote for anybody who had had any links to the man.
And so you can now understand why Nicholas Biwott became so powerful during the Moi post-1982 era. Actually he remained the only close confidant to the president and proceeded to use his position to amass the kind of fortune that left all corrupt senior officials before him looking like jokers. One of the very early “cash cows” engineered by Biwott was the Turkwell Gorge project. Much has been written and said about this hydro electric project. An engineer closely linked to it once jokingly told me that it was “a great project” because Kenyans were going to show the world how to generate hydro electric power from sand. In the end the ecosystem of a large area was changed and many ordinary folks were left without water so that some waters could be diverted to run the Turkwell Gorge turbines.
But back to Moi, the man truly started to follow in the steps of Kenyatta (early in his presidency Moi had promised to follow the Nyayo—which is Swahili for footsteps—of Kenyatta). Just like Kenyatta had made all his decisions with the nightmare of a military coup hanging over his head, Moi now started to rule in much the same manner.
Some insiders insist that a close confidant and friend of Moi for many years called Mukaru Nganga summarized and simplified the famous political book by Machiavelli called The Prince. They add that Moi went everywhere with summary and frequently consulted it as he ruled Kenya with an iron Machiavellian hand. The man became a master of the game and christened himself the professor of politics.
Where Kenyatta had been old and sickly, Moi was still relatively young and extremely healthy. One of the reasons why Kenyans immediately felt a difference in leadership when Kibaki took over was because of Moi’s routine. Moi would get out of bed at 4 am and religiously start the day by reading all the 3 daily newspapers at the time. Coupled with the intelligence reports he received regularly and the numerous ordinary folks he kept contact with, it was a lot more difficult for the kitchen cabinet to mislead Moi as Kenyatta’s close aides had often done to him.
By the time Moi was settling down to breakfast at about 6 he had a fairly good grasp of what was going on in his area of jurisdiction.
To understand this better it is useful to go back to 1958 and the days of the first African leaders to be elected to the Legco. Moi had been a teacher and reluctantly agreed to go into politics. As the representative for the vast Rift Valley region, he took his job very seriously. He would travel constantly all over the Rift Valley actively seeing to the welfare of the people who had elected him. As president we see exactly the same trait and he traveled to every inch and corner of the country and also kept himself very well informed on exactly what was going on.
But many times over confidence leads to arrogance and arrogance inevitably leads to terrible mistakes. As Moi looks back at his presidency today there is no doubt one thing that keeps coming back to haunt him. One regret that he has that troubles him greatly. And that is the murder of his foreign affairs minister Robert John Ouko. The story of Ouko is how something very petty can escalate and cause murder to be committed. The good book tells us that the very first murder in the human race happened when Kane was jealous of his brother Abel after his sacrifice was favoured by God over his. In other words the motive of that murder was jealousy. Did you know that to date that is still the leading motive for most murders?
The whole Ouko affair started on a trip to the US after a careless comment by the Americans that Ouko would have made a much better president than the blundering heavy-accented Moi. That comment made Moi very angry and it was that anger that set in motion a chain of events that led to the gruesome murder of a spineless politician who was absolutely no threat to anybody. Read exclusive Kumekucha interview with John Troon who investigated the Ouko murder and got so close to the truth that an attempt was made on his life.
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Due to unavoidable circumstances I will be posting part 8 of this weekend special on Monday morning (Kenyan time). Sorry folks, big emergency.