Daniel Toroitich arap Moi (1924 – 4 February 2020) was the second President of Kenya. He served from 1978 to 2002 after succeeding President Jomo Kenyatta following the latter’s death. Before that, he was the third Vice President of Kenya from 1967 to 1978.
Born into the Tugen sub-group of the Kalenjin people in the Kenyan Rift Valley, Moi studied as a boy at the Africa Inland Mission school before training as a teacher, working in that profession until 1955. He then entered politics and was elected a member of the Legislative Council for Rift Valley. As independence approached, Moi joined the Kenyan delegation which travelled to London for the Lancaster House Conferences, where the country’s first post-independence constitution was drafted. In 1960 he founded the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) as a rival party to Kenyatta’s Kenya African National Union (KANU). Following independence in 1963 Kenyatta, who became Prime Minister and later President of the new nation, convinced Moi to merge the two parties. Kenyatta appointed Moi to his government in 1964 and then promoted him to Vice-President in 1967. Despite opposition from a Kikuyu elite known as the Kiambu Mafia, Kenyatta groomed Moi as his successor, and he took over as president when Kenyatta died in 1978.
Initially popular both domestically and with Western countries, who saw his regime as countering against influences from the Eastern Bloc-aligned governments of Ethiopia and Tanzania, Moi’s popularity fell around 1990 as the economy stagnated and the Cold War ended. Following popular agitation and external pressures, he was forced to allow multiparty elections in 1991; he then led his party, KANU, to victory in the disputed 1992 and 1997 elections. Constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, Moi chose Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor, but Kenyatta was defeated by opposition leader Mwai Kibaki in the 2002 election and Kibaki replaced Moi as president. Kenyatta would eventually win the Presidency in the 2013 election.
Moi’s regime was deemed as dictatorial and autocratic, especially before 1992 when Kenya was a one-party state. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, as well as a special investigation by the United Nations, accused Moi of human rights abuses during his presidency. Inquiries held after the end of his presidency found evidence that Moi and his sons had engaged in significant levels of corruption, including the 1990s Goldenberg scandal. Moi died on 4 February 2020 at around 3 A.M at the age of 95.