Details of the Barely Heard Moi’s Wife that you Didn’t Know

Daniel Moi’s wife, Lena Moi , is one of the least known first ladies in the Kenyan Presidency history.

As such President Moi’s wife, Lena Moi, was barely heard of or seen during the 24 years that he was at the helm of power. 

Unknown to many, her family used to shelter Moi during school holidays after he had been orphaned following the death of his father at only four years old. 

Lena Moi (left) and Mama Ngina Kenyatta in October 20, 1967 Photo: Kenya National Archives

It is at this home that he silently admired Lena whose full first name was Helena. Her family respected Moi and viewed him as a young, tall, handsome and well-mannered orphan boy.

A devout Christian herself, Lena became the face of educated converts and trained as a teacher. She later travelled to the US in the course of her career to gain teaching exposure.

“She was an iron lady but with a great sense of humour,” recalled Paul Chemirchir in Moi’s biography, The Making of An African Statesman.

After her marriage to Moi in 1950, she gave up her teaching career to bring up her family, settling at Tambach Government School where her husband worked.

She argued that it was necessary for children to be raised by their own mother if they were to grow mentally and physically healthy.

In 1955, Moi was appointed to the Legislative Council (LegCo), signaling the start of troubles in their marriage. 

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Moi bought a Land Rover and opened a posho mill in south Baringo, then started spending his early years of marriage crisscrossing the Rift Valley as the region’s senior-most politician at the height of the emergency.

It is reported that because of the demanding nature of his work, the two began to pull apart.

They separated in 1974 and finalised their divorce in 1979, just after Moi became president. 

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After parting ways, Lena retreated to a quiet life in her home at Kabimoi Ranch near Nakuru and was buried at Moi’s Kabarak home when she passed on in 2004. 

Also unknown to many, she was awarded the Order of the Golden Heart by President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1968 for her service to the community, including paying school fees for children from poor families, conducting fundraisers and supporting women’s groups in the Rift Valley.

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