ASKS FOR PRIVACY

Mzee Moi won't be able to receive son's mourners, family says

Spokesman Lee Njiru says family touched by overwhelming messages of condolence, asks for understanding for "inevitable stand"

In Summary

• Retired President Daniel Arap Moi may not be able to personally receive those wishing to offer their condolences following the death of his son Jonathan Kiprotich.

• The family was touched by the overwhelming messages of condolences and expressions of empathy from Kenyans and friends across the world.

Retired President Daniel Moi's elder son Jonathan Moi
Retired President Daniel Moi's elder son Jonathan Moi
Image: COURTESY

Retired President Daniel Arap Moi may not be able to personally receive those wishing to offer their condolences following the death of his son Jonathan Kiprotich.

Moi’s Press secretary and personal assistant Lee Njiru said the family was touched by the overwhelming messages of condolences and expressions of empathy from Kenyans and friends across the world.

He said the family was thankful and appreciated the messages.

“The family, with heavy hearts, wishes to inform all our friends that our patriarch Mzee Moi may not be able to personally receive those wishing to offer their condolences," Njiru said in a statement on Sunday.

"This inevitable stand does not in any way lessen our gratitude. Please understand."

He said the family will give more updates with time.

On Saturday, Jonathan's younger brother Gideon described his sibling as an amiable, social and down-to-earth man who was very industrious.

"Jonathan will be remembered for his daring exploits in the racing tracks, in muddy and dusty tracks, during this time of Easter," the Baringo senator said.

The family has asked Kenyans to respect their privacy during the mourning of their son.

"We are distraught as family and we ask for your prayers and seek your understanding and indulgence to allow us mourn privately. We will continue to inform Kenyans on need basis and further arrangements," Gideon said.

Born on July 23, 1954, Jonathan was three-months away from celebrating his 65th birthday.

He attended Prince of Wales School, now Nairobi School, before proceeding to study Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) at the University of Delaware in the US.

He preferred to live his life as a farmer in the little known Kabimoi village in Eldama Ravine, Baringo county.

The news of his death was received with shock as Kenyans joined hands to console the family. Close family sources said Jonathan, fondly known as JT died of cancer at the dawn of Saturday.

His death is the second tragic loss for the former President’s family in recent years. In 2015, Jonathan's brother Raymond, lost his 16-year-old son, to brain cancer.

HIS LIFE  

Jonathan was credited with bringing up his other siblings upon the separation of his father from their mother Lenah Moi.

In his 1998 biography, The Making of an African Statesman, Moi said he had little joy from his family. He said he felt disappointed and let down by the family. The autobiography was written by British author Andrew Morton.

“He is quite a lonely man although always surrounded by people. That is the way a friend who has known him since his days as a teacher puts it,” Morton writes.

When the divorced happened in 1974, the children gravitated towards their father although Jonathan remained close to his mother.

He then opted to settle in a rural but serene Kabimoi village away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The move was seen as Jonathan establishing his own identity away from the shadow of his father was had risen to become President.

He was an agribusinessman with investments in modern technology in agriculture and banking.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said he interacted a lot with Jonathan, especially when he ran for parliamentary seats in Kapenguria and Jonathan was vying in Eldama Ravine.

"We used to do farming. He planted maize and did dairy farming in Eldama Ravine and wheat in Narok. He used to keep a very low profile but lived a very lucrative life," Lonyangapuo said.

"I remember his rallying. That's the only thing we used to wait for in Kitale through West Pokot to Baringo the entire year," Lonyangapuo said on phone.

The governor said Jonathan was a man who always kept his word.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri described Jonathan as an independent-minded man who was courageous and very friendly.

“Jonathan’s father has nurtured my political ambitions since I was young. We grew together with Jonathan," Ngunjiri said.

At Kabimoi village, residents described Jonathan as a humble and generous man who interacted with the poorest and needy people.

"Every time he was around, the village became lively and people could start milling around his homestead. He helped the needy and kept his promises," Mary Rotich said.

William Sawe said Jonathan was a "great friend and a very generous man." Sawa is a former Youth for Kanu’92 (YK ’92) representative for Lembus ward. He worked closely with Jonathan during the latter's unsuccessful attempt to capture the Eldama Ravine parliamentary seat in 2002.

"His generosity will linger on the minds of many who had the pleasure to watch and interact with him," Sawe said.

The rallying fraternity said they were shocked by the death Jonathan. 

They said Jonathan treated spectators to some exhilarating displays of racing artistry and was synonymous with the ex-works Toyota Celica, then an elegant and crowd-pleasing model of Toyota.

"So very sad to learn of Jonathan's passing. I had the pleasure of getting to know him and Ibrahim quite well during their rallying days. Jonathan was a good man with a kind spirit and when he showed it, quite a sense of humour. My sincere condolences to the Moi family. Rest in Peace Jonathan," Rally official Jackie Holt posted on facebook.

Azar Anwar, a renowned rallying guru said Jonathan's death was a blow to the rallying fraternity.

"Jonathan has done a number of rallies. He was quite a serious and committed rally driver. He took the sport seriously.  This (his death) is a big blow to the entire sports fraternity and his family at large. We pray that we may have more people to make the sports grow as he did," Anwar told the Star.

Jonathan was a top rally driver in 80s and 90s.

"At the age of 32, he threw caution to the wind by entering one of the world’s hardest motorsport competitions, the Safari Rally. That was 1986," said Salina Suge, a relative residing in Kabimoi.

He was once of the leading Kenya National Rally Championship drivers in the 1990s alongside Paul Bailey, Anwar, Patrick Njiru and Ian Duncan.

He won the now defunct Equator Rally in 1997 navigated by Ibrahim Choge in a Toyota Celica and also the 1998 edition of Nanyuki Rally in the same car.

The 1998 edition marked Nanyuki's debut in the KNRC series. Jonathan often told friends how his family had been apprehensive when he developed an interest in car racing.

They felt it was too dangerous for him to go out without security and drive in the wild. He convinced them that he would be safe and they finally supported his passion.

He retired from Safari Rally racing in the early 2000 and retreated to a private life.

He has been rarely seen in the media since his retirement from Safari Rally.

HOBBIES

Jonathan loved farming maize, wheat and keeping dairy cows. During his free time, friends said he used to talk to the needy people and help them.

He also loved nyama choma with steamy ugali.

POLITICAL LIFE

In 2002, Jonathan ran for Eldama Ravine parliamentary seat on a Kanu ticket but lost to Musa Sirma, his father's long term ally. He made another attempt at the seat in 2007 but lost to ODM's Moses Lessonet.

“Despite the political differences during campaigns, we remained good friends and he was my good neighbour at Kabimoi," Sirma said.

Sirma said Jonathan had a "big heart for man" and was a committed farmer.

Jonathan has left behind four children and a widow. His other siblings are Jeniffer, Phillip, John, Mark and June.

Edited by Peter Obuya