The symbolic passing of retired President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi’s political baton to his youngest son, Gideon Moi, formally sets the stage for a bruising battle between the Baringo senator and Deputy President William Ruto for the vote-rich Rift Valley electoral base.
The State funeral at Kabarak turned at the tail end of it as a coronation of the junior Moi, who is also the national chairman of the former ruling party Kanu — a position previously held for decades by his father.
And with that simple act, the Rift Valley region now has two de facto political kingpins — DP Ruto and Senator Moi.
It now remains to be seen whether the younger Moi, who formally stepped into his father’s giant political shoes, has the wherewithal to wear them.
Nevertheless, it is expected that the fight for control of the vote-rich Rift Valley between Dr Ruto and Mr Moi will eventually spill over to the national stage with the two expected to gun for the presidency in 2022.
Whether it was pre-planned and kept as a family secret or not, it took all by surprise when the eldest of Moi’s sons, Rongai MP Raymond Moi, handed over their father’s iconic gold-clad ivory rungu to his younger brother as the world watched.
Raymond briefly interrupted the military-controlled ceremony to hand over the rungu that had been handed over to him by Kalenjin elders, who insisted that Moi’s family cannot remain without a political heir.
Not wanting to leave anything to chance, the Rongai MP presided over a brief handing over ceremony before the mourners, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and family members.
Raymond has had the unprecedented honour over the last seven years of representing in Parliament both his father and President Kenyatta, whose Gicheha family farm is in Rongai Constituency.
He stated that, much as he was the eldest and the heir apparent by birthright, political leadership would rest on the shoulders of the family’s last-born son.
“We all know the King has rested and in terms of family seniority, I am the eldest son. But in politics, Gideon will be our leader,” stated Raymond.
“Mzee took care of everyone in the country and we expect you to take the cue from him, unite the country and revive Kanu.”
The MP assured President Kenyatta that the party and the family would rally behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which he initiated with Mr Odinga two years ago.
Seeming to have been taken entirely by surprise, Gideon said he was stepping into huge shoes and would do his best to fit the bill.
“Honestly, I was not expecting this. I will do my very best and I will put God first,” he said.
Tiati MP William Kamket said a huge tree had fallen, but there were enough fruits from it to satisfy everyone.
Mr Kamket said Mzee Moi twice summoned him to Kabarak and tasked him with the responsibility of telling Gideon to support Uhuru for President in 2017.
Mr Odinga sought to dispel the notion that the country was slowly creeping towards a dynastic leadership.
“Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was from a poor background, so was President Moi and Jaramogi Odinga (the former vice-president). This story about dynasties is nonsense,” he said, lighting up the sombre mood at Kabarak.