Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was born on 2nd September, 1924 in a small village of Kurieng’wo in Sacho Location of Baringo District. He was named after his father Kimoi arap Chebii a sot clan herdsman whose ancestors had migrated from the slopes of Mt. Kenya. They settled in the Tugen Hills to avoid intermittent skirmishes with the Maasai in the 19th Century.
Moi was the 5th child of Kabon, Chebii’s senior wife. Moi was named Toroitich which means ‘welcome home the cattle’ espousing how central cattle were in their existence.At the age of four, Moi’s father died and his elder brother Tuitoek played a guardian role. It was Tuitoek who influenced him to go to school at an early age as a way of running away from poverty and injustices that characterised colonial rule.
In 1934, Moi started school at the African Inland Mission school, Kabartonjo where he had to walk 28 miles away from home. On october 20th 1936 he was baptised Daniel. In 1938, he was transferred to African Inland Mission, Kapsabet and later to Government African School, Kapsabet where he was a school captain and a captain of the football team. He took menial jobs in and out of school to meet his basic needs.
In 1945 he was selected to join Alliance High School but to his disappointment he was not allowed by the colonial administration. Instead he was sent to a teachers training college. His character was greatly moulded by Christianity which he had embraced at a tender age. He demonstrated inexhaustible patience and tolerance which later helped shape his political career.
On completion of his course, he was posted as a Head teacher at Kabarnet where he studied privately and passed London Matriculation Examinations. He was promoted in 1949 to the rank of P2 after attending a brief course at Kagumo College and transferred to Tambach Government African School as a Teacher Trainer.
President Moi married Helena (Lena) Bommet in 1950 and they were blessed with 8 children; 3 daughters and five sons, (Jennifer, Doris and adopted daughter June; Jonathan, Raymond, John Mark, Philip and Gideon).
In 1950 he attended a course at the Jeans School (Kenya Institute of Administration) and was posted to Govt African School, Kabarnet where he taught Teachers upto 1955 when he joined politics. His entry into politics followed a meeting with a group of freedom fighters under the command of Brig. Daniel Njuguna who visited him in June 1955. He was sympathetic to their cause and after feeding and protecting them for two weeks he gave them food and money to further their cause.
In October 1955 the electoral college selected Moi from a list of eight nominated candidates to fill a vacancy left by Joseph ole Tameno who resigned from the unofficial benches of the legislative council.
Moi emmersed himself in politics with resistance. As he sat as a member of the Legislative Council with only other four African members on October 18th, 1955 Moi did not know what was in store for him. He however swiftly adapted to the new challenges and in the following year he moved a motion in the Legislative Council (Legco) demanding that African teachers be allowed to form their own association. Thus Kenya National Union of Teachers was formed and registered in 1957.
Brought up in strong Kalenjin culture, Moi is a firm believer in justice, honesty and fairness to all. He worked alongside other leaders like Eliud Mathu, Ronald Ngala and Masinde Muliro in agitating for the release of Jomo Kenyatta and greater African representation in the Legco.
In 1959, he led a group of leaders to visit Jomo Kenyatta in detention in Lodwar. Subsequently, Moi was among the Kenyan delegation under the auspices of KADU who went to the London Constitutional talks of June 1960.
Just before independence (1961), Moi was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry for Education and later served in the ministries of Education and Local Government in the coalition Government. He served as Minister for Local Government at age 37. As all-conference Chairman of KADU, Moi saw the intricacy of politics and opted for a united and nationalistic approach leading to the dissolution of KADU in November, 1964.
In January 1967, Jomo Kenyatta appointed Toroitich arap Moi, now aged 43, as his Vice-President following the resignation of Mr.Joseph Murumbi.
Moi became President following the death of Mzee Kenyatta on 22 August 1978.
Since independence in 1963, Moi has won all elections as a Member of Parliament for Baringo Central and as President in both single-party and the multi-party era.
His leadership has seen many ups and downs. The major test was in August 1982 when a detachment of Airforce soldiers attempted to overthrow his government but they were crushed.
Moi served as Chairman of the Organization Of African Unity(OAU) for two consecutive terms – 1981 and 1982.
He has also been involved in mediation between various conflicting sides in Uganda, Congo, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Mozambique, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi etc. He served as Chairman of Preferential Trade Area (1989-1990), COMESA (1999-2000), E.A. Co-operation (1996- 2002) and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development IGAD (1993 – 1998).
He has travelled widely in search for peace in Africa and the world. Many a times he has been called upon as a president to provide peace keeping forces in troubled parts of the world like Chad, Uganda, Namibia, Mozambique, Iran/Iraq, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Liberia, Morocco, Angola, Serbia/ Croatia, D.R. Congo, Sierra Leone and East Timor.
At various fora, Moi has stressed that unless Africans cement their unity and solidarity, solutions to the many internal and external hazards afflicting Africa will remain elusive. He has argued that the hard won independence stands in jeopardy unless Africans embrace co-operation as a means of faster and more diversified economic development. Moi has supported the formation of regional economic bodies to increase trade and as a means for the developing countries to have a united voice in the global economy.
On 30th December 2002, Moi handed over the reigns of power to Mwai Kibaki in a peaceful transition that followed the National Rainbow Coalition’s (Narc) victory over Kanu in the December 2002 General Elections.
Currently, Moi is setting up a foundation through which he hopes to participate in solving conflicts in the horn of African and the Great Lakes Region as well as help rehabilitate street children and those orphaned by HIV/aids.