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Ballroom dance that ended Moi’s marriage to Lena

By Amina Wako February 10th, 2020 2 min read

For the 24 years that he was the head of state, the late President Daniel arap Moi country was never seen in public with his wife Lena.

Little is known of their 25 years of marriage that ended when Moi was still the Vice President.

The two met when both were teachers and Moi wedded Lena in 1950 at the AIC mission in Eldama Ravine after he paid two heifers, one ox, and four sheep to his in-laws.


Lena later abandoned her career as a teacher and immersed herself into bringing up her family, settling down with Moi at Tambach Government School, where his first two children, Jennifer and Jonathan Kipkemboi, were born in 1952 and 1953 respectively.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Lena strode Kenya’s political scene as the vice-president’s wife and that marked the downward spiral of their marriage.

The marriage was finally broken in 1974 by a single event during a dinner dance at Rift Valley Technical College which was graced by President Jomo Kenyatta as the chief guest.

A story is told of how Moi danced with the former First Lady, Mama Ngina Kenyatta while Lena was expected to dance with the President Kenyatta.

But being a staunch Christian Lena believed dancing was sinful and so she turned down Kenyatta’s invitation, thus humiliating her husband Moi.


After their marriage collapsed, a divorce followed in 1979. By then Lena had already faded away from the public arena, never to be heard of again until her death in 2004.

Their 25 years marriage bore them seven children, Jenifer, Jonathan, Raymond, Philip, Doris, John Mark, Gideon and an adopted daughter June.

In the 1998 biography, Moi: The Making of an African Statesman, authored by Andrew Morton, Moi admitted that he had little joy from his family.

Moi told the author that he felt disappointed and let down by his family.

In the book, Moi said he was frustrated that apart from Gideon and June his other children did not appear in public when he was president to give him moral support.

“He is quite a lonely man although always surrounded by people. That is the way a friend who has known him since his days as a teacher puts it,” Morton wrote.