POLITICAL SUCCESSION

Why Gideon Moi will succeed his father

It is not clear at what point in his life Moi settled on his youngest son Gideon to be his heir apparent

In Summary

• Gideon was always Moi's favourite and is expected to take over from his father

• The Baringo senator paid a glowing tribute to his father yesterday

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi pays tribute to his father Daniel Moi during the funeral service at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, February 11, 2020.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi pays tribute to his father Daniel Moi during the funeral service at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, February 11, 2020.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

In the Bible, there is an interesting anecdote worth sharing in light of Moi's succession politics. It comes from 1 Samuel 16:10-12 and reads:

10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

 

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

For the benefit of those not well versed in the Bible, the story above took place at the home of Jesse the Bethlehemite. It happens that after King Saul’s ways displeased God, God was intent on having him removed as king of Israel. He, therefore, sent Prophet Samuel to the home of Jesse because He had decided that one of Jesse’s sons would succeed Saul.

As with all men, Jesse was sure God would choose the eldest, but that was not in God’s plan. He let Jesse parade all his sons who God rejected one by one. As an afterthought, David, who was the youngest and was away in the field tending to livestock, was called in last. And when he came before Samuel, God nodded His approval.

It is not clear at what point in his life Moi settled on his youngest son Gideon to be his heir apparent ahead of the others in the family. Neither is it anywhere in the annals of the history of the Moi family whether this choice was as dramatic as that of David and Samuel.

But what is known, albeit in hushed tones, is that Gideon was for a long time his father’s favourite, to the eternal chagrin of his siblings, especially his elder brother, the late Jonathan Moi. Although news about the finer details of the Mois squabbles was not in the limelight, snippets of information from well-placed sources told of a family at war with itself.

That Moi favoured Gideon over his siblings is not entirely a Moi family thing. Moi, who served as Vice President in Jomo Kenyatta’s government, seemed to have followed in the footsteps of his predecessor at the second-highest office in the land, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

 

Although Jaramogi had Oburu as the elder son, it was on the younger shoulders of Oburu’s brother Raila that their father placed all the major responsibilities. Watching the two in the public sphere, one can be forgiven for thinking that Oburu is the younger one because of Raila’s sheer force of personality and the strides he has made in politics.

In the natural order of things, and more so in our African context, it is usually the firstborn son who gets to succeed the father as head of the family in case the old man dies. Although those in the know say that away from politics and family business interests, Raila normally defers to Oburu on almost everything, the same cannot be said of the Mois.

The bad blood between the Moi sons had been known, but it was during the preparation of their mother Lena’s burial that the row between Gideon and Jonathan came out in the open. Gideon, according to sources who attended the meeting, had tried to address one of the meetings as the family spokesman but Jonathan shot up and pointed at him. “Simply because our father transferred most of his properties to you doesn’t entitle you to become our spokesman,” a source quoted the late Jonathan saying at that time.

With the death of Jonathan, it was expected that the next in line, Rongai MP Raymond Moi, would have stepped up, but clearly their father had other ideas.

Gideon leapfrogged his siblings and his entry into high-stakes politics as Kanu chairman and Baringo senator, pitting him against the presumptive Kalenjin kingpin William Ruto, served to cement his position as the man who will take over the mantle.

What is not clear is whether the other siblings will sit back and let this coup happen without a fight. Considering the billions Moi made and whose sharing must be topping the agenda, we have on our hands a potential family feud that can make a must-watch soap opera.

The other Moi children are Jennifer, John Mark, Doris, Philip and June.