Jonathan Kipkemboi Moi was the eldest son of former President Daniel arap Moi, and in most African cultures, this would have placed him at the forefront of decision-making in the family.
In the Moi family context, Jonathan would have been expected to ensure that their surname remained a constant in Kenya’s politics, economy and general way of life.
But JT, as he was known to close friends and family, chose to walk a different path, which ended up building a wall between him and his father.
Family sources revealed that Jonathan’s closeness with his mother, Lena, whom Moi Senior divorced in 1974, was the cement that built the wall. He was also uncomfortable with his father’s bias for Gideon, his younger brother, who is Baringo senator and basically the family head.
Jonathan died of pancreatic cancer on April 20, barely three weeks after being diagnosed with the disease that blocked an artery in his lungs.
He was 64 and had lived a rather reclusive life. His rally driving exploits, link to the brutal rape and murder of British photographer Julie Ward in September 1988, attempts to clinch the Eldama Ravine Parliamentary, seat and death, were some of the few occasions JT was the subject of news stories.
He was one of the family rebels.
He did try his hand at politics but failed spectacularly. Word has it that Jonathan wanted to vie for Eldama Ravine parliamentary seat in 2007, but failed to get his father’s blessings, so he backed out.
With Moi retiring after the 2002 General Election, it looked likely that Jonathan would become the political heir and maybe even gun for the presidency. Interestingly, he lost the Kanu ticket for the seat to family friend Musa Sirma.
Sirma clinched the seat with Gideon Moi winning in Baringo Central.
In 2007, the Moi family suffered humiliating defeat as three sons of the former President lost attempts at parliamentary seats. At the time, Rift Valley had shifted allegiance to William Ruto, whose relationship with former President Moi — his political mentor — had gone sour. Gideon lost to former Lands Commissioner Sammy Mwaita, while Raymond lost the Rongai seat to political activist Luka Kigen.
Jonathan fell to ODM’s Moses Lessonet, a Ruto ally. The loss marked the end of Jonathan’s stab at politics.
He went into motor rallying in 1989, at the age of 35. By the time he retired in 1999, he had clinched hundreds of trophies, including the coveted Kenya National Rally Championship title.
Earlier, his name had featured in investigations into the murder of British photographer Julie Ward.
Juliet’s father, John Ward, to date links Jonathan to her murder and is still conducting investigations in the hope that her killers will one day be brought to justice.
Jonathan denied any involvement in Julie’s murder, whose body was found in the Maasai Mara game reserve on September 13, 1988 after a week-long search.
All four individuals charged with Julie’s gruesome rape and murder were acquitted. Despite a turbulent relationship with the larger Moi family, his death seemed to foster some unity.
His brothers Gideon and Philip offered to act as guarantors for their brother’s widow, who is temporarily managing assets that Jonathan left behind, pending determination of a succession dispute in court.
On May 22, the Moi family held a meeting and agreed that Jonathan’s first wife, Sylvia, would be entrusted with the management of his estate.
The estate, estimated at Sh30 million, is rather modest considering that he hailed from one of Africa’s wealthiest families.
When Jonathan died, most people believed that he had only one wife and four children.
But later Roseline Rechoh Adhiambo Opata claimed that he was the father of her two children who had been living in their grandmother Lena Moi’s home.
Later, 36-year-old Lawrence Kipchumba also claimed to be Jonathan’s son born out of wedlock.
Last month Beatrice Mbuli and Faith Nyambura claimed that they were also married to Jonathan.
On June 25 Justice Asenath Ongeri granted Sylvia temporary authority over Jonathan’s estate as the court grappled with the succession case.
On the brighter side, Jonathan’s relatives have found an agreeable way to share out his estate.
Sylvia, Faith and Beatrice agreed to consider all of Jonathan’s 12 children in the succession of the estate as they pursue an out-of-court settlement.
His estate comprises a piece of land in Nairobi’s Industrial Area valued at Sh15 million and shares in Tiro Holdings Ltd (Sh10 million), and Nakuru Oil Mills (Sh5 million), according to court documents.
Although Faith and Beatrice claim that Sylvia has grossly undervalued Jonathan’s assets and transferred some of property to herself, they agreed to settle the dispute amicably.