A close friend of the late Former President Daniel Moi recently narrated how he (Moi) walked for close to 250 kilometres to buy his first Bible.
According to Joel Chebii, who spoke with The Standard, revealed that Moi walked with a cow from Kapsabet in Nandi County to Kapsowar in Elgeyo Marakwet (a distance of over 240 km) to buy the bible.
Chebii notes that the former president, who was a staunch Christian, had received the cow as a gift from well-wishers, but because of his strong faith, sold it to buy a bible from the missionaries.
He reportedly sold the cow at Sh 2.50, which was the exact price of the bible at that time. This was after walking for six days, Chebii recalls.
“I knew Moi in 1986 through former Eldoret North MP Reuben Cheshire, and we became close friends. I invited him to a service at our Eldoret Baptist Church where I serve as a reverend in the 1990s. I was surprised when Moi showed up and when elders offered him a bible, he told me he had his own, which he bought in Kapsowar in the 1940s,” Chebii is quoted by The Standard.
What many people do not know is why the bible was so special to Moi that it had to be put next to him during the public viewing of his body at the Parliament buildings. Moi’s 24-year rule was defined by his rungu, a small, often-decorated wooden baton.
When Moi was a small boy in the early 1930s, he and other young men from the Tugen community in Baringo (Moi’s Kalenjin sub-tribe), were required by their elders to carry an assortment of small weapons to protect themselves against wild animals.
According to Andrew Morton, who wrote his biography ”Moi, the Making of an African Statesman”, Moi picked up the habit and carried it to the highest office on the land.
“From a young age Moi was always armed with a rungu, a bow and arrow, or occasionally a small sword, to ward off attacks by leopards, eagles or baboons,” the biography reads.
However, when he started schooling he had to convert to Christianity and was forced to abandon many cultural engagements, including the weapons to take up the norms of a modern man guided by the missionaries.
“He was totally a unique Christian who never thought at any given time of shelving his faith to tackle worldly things like politics,” Full Gospel Churches of Kenya Kabarnet Bishop Daniel Chemon said on Tuesday.
“Moi’s Christian faith was totally different from others who served God during the day and minded businesses of the darkness during the night. He walked with the bible throughout his life.”
However, he did not leave his rungu, a weapon that became his symbol of power from 1978 to 2002.
Chebii, who was first vice-chairman of COTU, says when he went to check on Moi a week before he died, he found that the former President still owned the Bible he bought more than 70 years ago.
“Mzee Moi was a true Christian. He was a humble and kindhearted man who came to our church seven times. He came to church with his bible, a notebook and a pen. We would see him writing notes like a student regardless of who was preaching,” Chebii added.
Mzee Moi’s body was on Saturday driven from the Lee Mortuary early in the morning in a military procession to Parliament Buildings, where it will lie in state for the next two days.
On his left, was his black bible, a hymn book and his trademark rungu which were neatly placed on one side of a chair similar to official chairs used by VIPs during public events.