Kenya today has its fourth President and has had three transitions, all of which dramatically changed the political landscape.
Under Moi and Kibaki, they wielded the big stick, had the best connections and you crossed their paths at your own peril. News wasn’t complete without them but after transition they have faded from the limelight. Times have changed.
Simeon Nyachae retired from active politics after losing the Nyaribari Chache parliamentary seat in the 2007 General Election. In 2002, his party, Ford People swept all parliamentary seats in Kisii despite the fact that he lost out in his presidential bid. True to his word, Nyachae has kept off politics despite declaring his stand on the referendum in 2010 and endorsing Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential bid at the Gusii Stadium two years later.
Matere Keriri started off as an MP but lost the Ndia seat between 1983 and 88 only to recapture the seat in 1992. In 2002, he lost to newcomer Daniel Karaba but was appointed State House Comptroller by President Kibaki. He was was appointed the Executive Chairman of the Energy Regulatory Authority (ERA). Keriri resigned from ERA to contest the Kirinyaga County Senate seat but was beaten at the primaries by Karaba. He is now leading a quiet life concentrating on his businesses in Turkana; mainly revolving around solar power.
JOHN JOSEPH KAMOTHO
John Joseph Kamotho (JJ) made a name for himself between 1990 and 2002 as Kanu’s longest-serving secretary general. Kamotho is remembered for titanic battles with the late Cabinet Minister John Njoroge Michuki as they engaged in political wars for the Kangema Parliamentary seat during general elections between 1974 and 1992.
In Murang’a, Kamotho is remembered for marshalling Kanu politicians in conducting fundraisers for churches and secondary schools and used the plat- form to attack his rivals.
In the March General Election, Kamotho vied for the Senate seat of Murang’a but lost in TNA nominations before landing in GNU and losing to Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura.
Ahmed Mwidani was one of the most powerful and long-serving Mombasa city fathers. He shaped politics and lives of Mombasa residents as influential mayor of Mombasa. He began his political career as a Kanu youth winger and worked in Kenyatta and Moi regimes.
Mr Mwidani retired from politics 16 years ago but remains eloquent although he prefers keeping a low profile. He says he has been mentoring politicians quietly though he hardly accompanies them to campaign rallies.
In his final years as mayor, Mwidani was faced with cash flow problems that forced the council to sell Uhuru gardens at Sh55 million to settle a salary bill.
PHAREZ OLUOCH KANINDO
After losing the Migori County senatorial seat to Dr Wilfred Machage (ODM), Mr Phares Oluoch is waiting for five years to make another stub. The veteran politician made a mark in President Jomo Kenyatta and retired President Daniel Arap Moi’s regimes. He is widely acclaimed as a popular politician in the former South Nyanza Constituency, now Homa Bay and Migori counties, earning a slot as an assistant minister in Moi’s government. He was also the chairman of South Nyanza Sugar Company. He now lives at his Awendo home where he engages in sugarcane and dairy farming. He attends social functions and makes known his undying dream of becoming Migori County Senator.
Fred Fidelis Omulo Gumo was born in Nairobi in 1945. His father, Pius Gumo was a prominent farmer in Trans Nzoia County and a close friend to the late President Jomo Kenyatta, former President Daniel Moi and President Mwai Kibaki. He joined politics as a councillor in Kitale where he also served as mayor for Kitale East and Cherangany MP.
Mr Gumo, who coined the ‘Kaa Ngumu Kama Gumo’ slogan, is a battle-hardened politician. Gumo shifted his political base to Nairobi and represented Westlands Constituency from 1994 following the death of the area MP, Amin Walji. He has retired from politics and is now running his business empire which cuts across real estate, farming and supplies.
Former Co-operative bank chairman Hosea Kiplagat was a powerful during Moi’s regime. He has twice tried to come back to politics in 2007 and 2013 but was beaten by the current Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita.
Mr Kiplagat has quietly retreated to his businesses spread out across the country.
The politician, popularly known as ‘HK’ has initiated various development projects under the HK foundation and has kept off public functions. He, however, continues to contribute to worthy causes through his agents. “It is wrong for anybody to think that I am out because I left politics, I have been busy managing my firm and serving Kenyans for the last ten years,” said Hosea. He owns commercial buildings in Nakuru, Kabarnet, Eldoret and Nairobi.
The former Labour Minister and Butula legislator can easily be mistaken for an ordinary man yet he was among the selected few who were honoured during the Mashujaa day for his consummate service to the nation both as an MP and Cabinet minister. Masinde served during Kenyatta and Moi regimes.
Despite serving in the cabinet for 5years and as an MP for ten years, Masinde’s reminder of the glorious days is an old Peugeot 504 he bought in 1992 when he was appointed to head the Labour docket.
Leitich, 77, served as a civic leader in Nakuru before being nominated to Parliament by the then ruling party Kanu.
At one time he directed the then dreaded Kanu youth wingers to chop off the fingers of multi-party proponents earning him a nickname; Leitich ‘Mkata Vidole’.
Owing to the anxiety the statement caused, Leitich would be forced to reverse his ‘order’ to prevent overzealous youth wingers from implementing it.
The politician currently spends most of his time at his farm in Kuresoi and attending to his other businesses.
He is also involved in peace and reconciliation efforts as the chairman of the Kalenjin Council of elders in Nakuru County.
PROF SAM ONGERI
He is another Moi loyalist who was the face of the Jubilee Alliance in Gusiiland in the run-up to the March 4 General Election, weathering the CORD wave in the area to emerge second in his bid to become Kisii County Senator. There were expectations that Ongeri would be appointed to a Cabinet position by President Uhuru Kenyatta but a newcomer, Dr Fred Matiang’i was picked to represent the larger Gusii region.
Since the elections, Ongeri has limited his public appearances to Kisii County. Sources say he has retreated to his farming business.
LINAH JEBII KILIMO
Linah first clinched victory to the National Assembly in the 2002 General Election and served in different ministerial dockets, despite opposition from her detractors who say she skipped circumcision and was therefore unfit to lead.
Prior to her election Kilimo was an advocate for girl child’s education and campaign against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in her backyard. She also worked with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), advocating for women empowerment.
The former banker retained her seat in 2007 but lost in the March 2013, after which she disappeared from the public eye.
Dr SALLY KOSGEI
Dr Sally Jepngetich Kosgei is an iron lady who served as a civil servant during Moi’s regime. She plunged into politics in 2007 and got elected MP for Aldai. She was then appointed Education minister before swapping jobs with current Deputy President William Ruto for the Agriculture docket. Kosgei was however trounced by Cornelly Serem in the last general election.
Currently the Historical Studies don has put her energies in flower farming and has not been a common figure in political functions.
It is still unclear if she will get back to the murky political waters.
NOAH KATANA NGALA
Noah Katana Ngala was considered a senior politician owing to his long service as Cabinet minister and closeness to retired president Moi.
Having gone to Parliament in 1972 after his father Ronald Gideon Ngala died in a road accident, the young Ngala served in the Kenyatta and Moi regimes.
Ngala is now in car hire and real estate businesses, having served as an MP for 28 years.
HENRY KIPRONO KOSGEI
He was the first elected Member of Parliament to serve under the former President Daniel Arap Moi in 1979 on a Kanu ticket. He clinched the most coveted MP seat five times in 1983, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007.
The 65-year-old is also recognised as the second longest serving MP after retired President Mwai Kibaki. Despite being the current chairman of ODM, Kosgei has silently exited politics and to oversee his private ventures as well as offering political advisory services.
ELISHA AKECH CHIEN’G
He was a kingmaker among Kanu supporters in South Nyanza during former President Daniel Arap Moi’s regime. Born in 1940 at Langi Village, Kanyamwa Location in Ndhiwa District, Chieng’ enjoyed the status of a Cabinet secretary.
His efforts led to upgrading of Lambwe Game Reserve to Ruma National Park, currently considered a chief revenue earner for the Homa Bay County.
Mzee Chieng’ lost three vehicles including two lorries he had been using in supplying sugar besides a Land Rover during the 1992 electioneering period to political upheaval.
RASHID MOHAMMED SAJJAD
Things have changed for Kanu influential businessman and political pointman, Rashid Mohamed Sajjad.
He has retreated to his business empire; industry and real estate. In his heyday as a Kanu bigwig at the Coast, his attention was sought as the then President Moi’s pointman. He owns the Milly Glass factory and a chain of other businesses and posh houses in Mombasa. Kassim Bakari Mwamzandi, a former Kanu MP and assistant minister admits that Mr Sajjad at one time exercised immense political powers.
Former State House comptroller in President Moi’s era, Abraham Kiptanui was a key advisor and close confidante of former President Moi.
After an illustrious service in the Kenyan government, Kiptanui retired in 1995 and committed himself to business and farming. Currently Kiptanui keeps himself busy with development issues like helping churches and improving schools’ infrastructure.
“I decided to help my community through facilitation of development projects and sit in a number of school management boards to make my contributions,” he told The Counties.
NICHOLAS KIPYATOR BIWOTT
Nicholas Kipyator Biwott is considered one of the most powerful leaders to have served in the Moi regime. The 73-year-old served as a minister in six dockets since 1971. He is the leader of the New Vision party. According to his personal assistant, William Chepkut, the former powerful ally of Moi has devoted his time to Corporate Social Responsibility with education as a priority. “Apart from politics, he is working towards elevating schools in his region through bursaries and other forms of financial help,” Chepkut said.
MARK KIPTARBEI TOO
Mark Kiptarbei Too, the former vice chairman of Lonrho East Africa during Moi’s era has also faded from the public radar. Too is said to have played an important role in propelling Uhuru Kenyatta to power by relinquishing his seat, to pave way for his nomination to Parliament. He is also a former Nandi branch chairman and former nominated MP whose close ties with Moi elevated him to become an important asset in yesteryear’s politics.
Speaking at his Eldoret home, Too said he had given politics a wide berth and has decided to concentrate fully in farming. Apart from growing maize and wheat in his expansive farms in Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Trans Nzoia counties, Too said he had also started a tree-growing project he has dubbed ‘Green Kenya’.
He is one of the most decorated politicians of the last half-century who worked as a public servant. Nabwera spends his retirement days in Kiminini, Trans-Nzoia County tending to his farm. The 86-year-old served as Kenya ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to United Nations in the 60s. Nabwera worked diligently and strategically placed himself to take up any powerful position that would enable him to serve in the Kenyatta government.
In the 1980s, Nabwera delved into elective politics and was elected Member of Parliament for Lugari constituency in 1988.