Why Nakuru residents want Uhuru to retire to his farm next to Moi's home
As President Uhuru Kenyatta leaves office in a few weeks after Tuesday’s elections, residents of several counties would love to have him move there in his retirement.
One such county is Nakuru, where the President owns a mansion, standing at the centre of a 4000-acre tract.
He is expected to spend his retirement in his homes spread across four counties.
He has four mansions – one each in Nairobi, Nakuru, Narok and Kiambu counties.
In Nakuru, leaders want the President to spend his retirement at the expansive Gicheha farm, where they can easily access him for ‘advice and guidance’.
President Daniel arap Moi’s longest-serving press secretary, Lee Njiru, who retired last year after more than 40 years in the civil service says: “I will have a great retirement buddy in President Uhuru Kenyatta.”
“We welcome President Uhuru Kenyatta to spend most of his retirement at Gicheha farm in Rongai sub-county,” says Mr Njiru.
“I have known President Kenyatta since he was a small boy, because l worked for his father as a press secretary before he passed on in 1978. He is a great man anyone can want as a neighbour.”
Mr Njiru, 72, held the position of press secretary during President Jomo Kenyatta’s reign and throughout President Moi’s era, a total of 43 years between 1978 and 2021.
Home to three presidents
“Again the Moi and Kenyatta families enjoy very strong ties, which date back to the 1960s. Therefore, in his retirement he should stay at Gicheha farm, which is next to the late President Moi’s expansive Kabarak home, where the Mois can easily access him for advice and guidance,” Mr Njiru said.
President Kenyatta, who was nurtured by President Moi, enjoys strong ties with Moi’s family, especially Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.
In fact, President Kenyatta previously appeared to be tactically bringing him into his 2022 succession plans.
Senator Moi’s long friendship with President Kenyatta, which dates back to their days as students at St Mary’s School, Nairobi, in late 1970s, has come in handy, reinforced by strong ties that bind their families.
According to former nominated senator Ben Njoroge, President Kenyatta should spend much of his retirement in Nakuru, where leaders can access him for advice and guidance.
“At his age now he has a lot of wisdom about leadership. We welcome him to Nakuru. Since it is at Gicheha farm where he has been holding crucial meetings and making pronouncements, it is good he spends his retirement there,” said Mr Njoroge.
Nakuru West MP Samuel Arama also welcomes President Kenyatta to settle in the county.
“Nakuru is home to the three past Presidents. We welcome President Uhuru Kenyatta to also retire in Nakuru,” Mr Arama told the Nation.
Some political pundits argue that Nakuru is the best county for President Kenyatta to spend his retirement.
“Firstly, Nakuru has good infrastructure with a proper road network and railway transport. The county will soon have a full-fledged airport in Lanet,” said lawyer and political analyst Steve Kabita.
“It is a good place for a President to retire. Furthermore, Nakuru already hosts homes of the past three Presidents and has been serving as the de facto political bedroom of Kenya.”
President Kenyatta was elected in 2013 and has served the maximum two terms allowed under the constitution.
Now a grandfather, President Kenyatta is expected to retire to his home in Ichaweri, Kiambu, or his other homes in Nakuru, Nairobi and Narok.
He could, however, remain in active politics as he is the chairman of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, whose presidential flag-bearer is Raila Odinga, whom he has openly rallied Kenyans to vote for saying the ODM leader is the best fit for the job.
Nakuru was also home to President Moi, who owned an expansive farm in the county. He was buried at his Kabarak home in April 2020.
Despite leaving active politics in 2002, his Kabarak home became the heart of the country’s politics and was seen as being at the centre of the 2022 presidential elections.
Mzee Moi acquired his Kabarak home when he was vice-president in the 1970s, years before he took over on August 22, 1978 after Kenya's founding father Mzee Kenyatta died.
The name Kabarak has remained synonymous with Moi.
The late Defence minister Njenga Karume, in his book Beyond Expectations: From Charcoal to Gold, describes how Moi came to own the extensive farm in Nakuru, where he built his home.
After Kenya's Mzee Kenyatta issued a decree that land would be acquired from Britons who were exiting Kenya after independence, many leaders rushed to buy large tracts.
Mr Karume recounts that Moi had the opportunity to buy a farm in Rongai, Nakuru, from a departing white settler.
He explains that Moi, through Mzee Kenyatta, bought the farm so that he could have a place to visit, hold meetings when attending functions at Nakuru State House, Nakuru, or when attending events in the area.
“Mzee Kenyatta at one time challenged Moi that he had several farms across the country, but Moi did not, prompting Moi to also acquire Kabarak and other farms for himself,” Kurume narrated in his book.
The Kabarak home is synonymous with Moi and in November 2018, the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (Kipi) issued a trademark licence to him after the family applied for it.
This means that no organisation could sell or market any goods or services under the name “Kabarak” without the express permission of the family.
Kabarak, which in Kalenjin means high or elevated, is in Rongai constituency and the area’s MP is Raymond Moi, Mzee Moi’s second-born son.
Mzee Moi settled at the Kabarak home after his retirement in 2002. Although he had other homes, including the Kabarnet Gardens home in Nairobi, he chose Kabarak as his retirement abode.
He had seven known private residences – one in the capital and six in the Rift Valley.
Of the seven, only two – Kabarnet Gardens in the neighbourhood of Nairobi's Kibera slums and Kabarak farm in Nakuru – are well known.
Interestingly, Mzee Moi would later help two other Heads of State, including the outgoing President, to acquire homes in Nakuru.
President Kenyatta has a home at the expansive Gicheha farm, adjacent to Moi’s Kabarak home, both in Rongai sub-county.
On the Gicheha farm, the Kenyatta family has invested heavily in agriculture.
The 4,000-acre farm is located one kilometre off the Nakuru-Eldoret highway and has over 1,000 animals and expansive plantations.
Uhuru rears exotic animals exported from South Africa and Uganda, including Boer goats, Brangus, Charolais, Hereford, Brahman and Ankole cows. Local breeds include the Boran and Sahiwal cattle.
“The President loves the beef cattle so much that he visits virtually every corner of the farm inspecting the herd and making inquiries when he is in Nakuru,” a director at the farm said in 2018.
The late President Mwai Kibaki also had a home in Bahati sub-county, which he rarely visited.