With his death, however, which occurred on Tuesday morning, unknown details of his private life are coming out in the open.
One such detail is the kind of food he ate and drinks if any he consumed to his fill.
Contrary to popular belief that Mzee Moi despised alcohol and wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole, the late President was a lover of good wine, his former President ’s chief of protocol has now opened up.
“I never saw Moi drink beer or smoke. However, he took wine while toasting during events. And these were particular wines like Black Tower and Spanish Rosily.” Mr Frost Josiah, a former aide, told the Nation yesterday.
Black tower is a German wine classified as red wine or red sweet wine and contains 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume).
The career diplomat-turned-farmer also says he does not recall any moment that Moi failed to attend an event or meeting due to illness.
“We would occasionally eat ugali at the Hilton in London. He would never combine proteins and carbohydrates. I saw him eat beef and vegetables on many occasions, especially for breakfast. This happened a lot on days that he was scheduled to attend daylong meetings,”
Wine makes life merry and the former President loved a good hearty laugh.
“He would laugh to tears and, because of that, former Foreign Affairs PS Dr Sally Kosgei always made sure that Mark Too had to be on board whenever we were embarking on long trips because he kept the President in good mood. He cracked jokes that kept Mzee happy. One time he even travelled without a passport,” says Mr Josiah.
But, even with all the good life Mzee Moi enjoyed, Josiah says Mzee led a lonely life.
“He must have been lonely. When other presidents were accompanied by their spouses to the dance floor during dinners and bouquets abroad, Moi always danced alone. He avoided those awkward moments when a woman would attempt to join him for a dance.”
Mzee Moi fell out with his late wife Lena Moi whom they sired seven children together and led most of his life as president lonely.
A little incident In 1974, saw the two lovebirds part ways. The late Moi had organised a dinner dance at the Rift Valley Technical College and Kenya’s founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was the chief guest. Everything went smoothly until the floor was open and the invited guests took to the floor to unleash their best dancing styles, While the tall, dark and handsome Moi danced with the then First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Moi’s wife refused to dance with the Mzee Kenyatta and even insulted him.
“As an uncompromising Christian (Lena) believed that dancing was sinful, but the insult to the President gravely embarrassed Moi," Moi's biographer Andrew Morton wrote in The Making of An African Statesman.
Following the 'embarrassment', Moi sent his wife away from the vice-president’s official residence at Nairobi’s Kabarnet Gardens to Kabimoi where she quietly lived with her son Jonathan until her death in 2004.
Mr Frost Josiah is the son of the late Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, Samuel Onyango Josiah, and was appointed by President Moi Chief of Protocol in 1997.
Before his appointment, he had served at the Kenyan embassy in Israel.
His promotion to head the presidential protocol wasn’t smooth sailing and had been objected by some State House officials, who were uncomfortable with his height.
Back then, such positions were offered to persons who were shorter or had the same height as the President to minimise camera obstructions.
“I received the appointment via a text message in February 1997. My first role was very difficult because it got me at loggerheads with Mzee’s aide-de-camp (ADC) at the time, Col Alexander Sitienei, who kept telling me to move. Luckily, Mzee intervened. I think he had heard him because he told him wacha kijana afanye kazi yake (let the young man do his work).
“Henceforth, I devised ways to ensure that if I happened to appear on Mzee’s photo, I’d look shorter or within his range of height. One way was by slanting my leg and the other was bending,” Josiah told Daily Nation.