Daniel Ole Muyaa-Was he the Master Maasai Community Kingmaker?

By Abdi Hussein and Obegi Malack

A few days before his demise, County Press had a candid one -on –one interview where we sought his views on wide ranging issues.

To many observers and political pundits the septuagenarian Ole Muyaa was seen among the Maa Community, as the master Kingmaker. Below are excerpts from the interview:

Chirping of birds and mowing of hundreds of cows ushered me into the Isinya homestead of former chairman of the defunct Olkejuado County Council, Mzee Daniel Kasirimu Ole Muyaa on a sunny afternoon.

Sitting under a tree in a plastic chair beside a motorized wheelchair was a frail, smartly dressed bespectacled ageing man beaming with happiness. His seraphic smile could deceive a stranger that he is an ordinary man aging gracefully, but he was not.

His baritone voice rent the air giving him an aura of a tough general who had conquered many battles in his life.

The retired politician who was  perceived by his peers as a kingmaker of their time was ailing and was going through the last days of an eventful life.

In his heydays, Mzee ole Muyaa called political shots in the entire Kajiado County commanding much respect from politicians across the country.

The man who for many years was a KANU party diehard and who had the ear of retired President Daniel Moi attracted friends and foes in equal measure.

Born in 1943 in Kitengela, Kajiado East Sub-county, Mzee Ole Muyaa had been christened the doyen of Maasai land politics and a Mr ‘Fix it’.

Mzee Ole Muyaa, a son of a Masaai herdsman, was teetotaller born in a family of ten.

In his tender age he was a herdsboy until he attained the age of 13 years when he was enrolled for class one.

Speaking a few weeks before his death, the old man said he didn’t achieve much in formal education because he left school in 1962 while in class four and enrolled for an agriculture course in the National Youth Service.

The polygamous man with a memory of a dolphin could memorize more than 50 phone numbers without referring to his handset.

He had a stint in Ministry of Agriculture before he got involved in murky world of politics in 1979, barely eight years after marrying his first wife.

Local leaders described him as a man who loved his people and the many calls he received during the interview attested to that fact.

He recounted how he was prevailed upon by the then influential Kajiado South Member of Parliament Stanley  Shapashina Oloitipitip to step down for his preferred person when he declared his interest to vie for North  Kaputie Ward as a councillor.

Reflecting back to those early days of his political life, he stared in the horizon while in deep thought and murmured: “It was dirty politics, but I had vowed not to relent.’’

“You see, when my intention was known and the towering burly Oloitipitip heard about it, he coerced me to step down for his preferred candidate. We had a gentleman’s understanding and he helped me to secure a nomination as councillor in neighbouring Mavoko Urban Council from 1979-1983,’’ reminisced a beaming Mzee Ole Muyaa.

“ I retained my seat on Kanu ticket in 1983 to 2002 when I retired after having been elected the Olekejuado County Council Chairman and the Local Government Authorities Chairman in 1998 for a two year term,” he said.

Ole Muyaa was full of  praise for his peers’ quality of leadership: “At that time, leaders were driven by the urge to serve people, but not to loot like the current crop of leaders.”

Flashing a coy smile, he reminisced how he earned Sh3,000 as his first salary as councillor which rose to Sh20,000 monthly, when he was serving as County Council chairman.

During his tenure, Ole Muyaa, who was multilingual and fluent in the Masaai, Kamba, Luo, Kalenjin, Luhya, Kikuyu, Meru and Kisii local languages, said he based his politics on fighting division along tribal lines.

He claimed to have helped educate hundreds children from poor families in Maasai land.

It was during his time as the County Council Chairman of Kajiado that his friendship with the retired President Daniel arap Moi blossomed.

The former President then became a regular visitor to his both Isinya and Kitengela homes and also visited him once when he was ailing.

During his final term as a councillor, he fell out with long time political ally and friend the late Prof George Saitoti, the then Kajiado North legislator.

Ole Muyaa claimed Saitoti plotted to oust him and allegedly sponsored councillors to a Mombasa retreat to plan his ouster, but he survived by one vote.

The bad blood between the two was rife particularly when Muyaa decided to oppose Saitoti in 2002.

‘’I think I had become very powerful that Saitoti chickened out. I braved on to challenge him in 2002 elections, but I was rigged out by the system and lost shoulder high,” he claimed.

After losing he decamped to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that brought together the likes of Raila Odinga, Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moody Awori among others to oppose President Moi’s preferred Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta.

“The house become too cold and so I retired from active politics to relax at my rural Kiret village in Isinya as a herder,” he said.

Before his death his normal day began at 7am when he was wheeled out by his care givers to witness his big herd of livestock being driven out to grazing fields.

Muyaa, who was described as generous, then took breakfast and then rested for hours on a makeshift bed under an Acacia tree reading a newspaper, or sometimes chatting with the many visitors who streamed into his home.

By 5pm in the evening, he always took count of his herd as the animals returned from the grazing fields and never missed television news bulletins before retiring to bed by 9.30pm.

For many years, Mzee ole Muyaa said, he always had a good wrist watch owing to his sensitivity on keeping time.

Even at his age and coupled with poor health, he was still among the most sought-after leaders by aspiring and serving political leaders in Kajiado county.

Deputy President William Ruto and Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku were the last big shots to have visited him recently.

The fallen Kajiado kingpin took issue with the current leadership of devolved units of government, saying most leaders had become overnight millionaires through abetting corruption.

He compared corruption with Engoke (bad omen in Maa dialect) eating up society and cautioned Kajiado leaders against dividing residents into clan cocoons.

He said promoting divisive politics would be counterproductive to the unity achieved since independence.

The interview perhaps the last he had with the written media ended as the sun was slowly setting in the west, amid a lively chitchat with Mzee Muyaa, as we gulped a cup of traditional herbal soup that was served hot.

“A cup of this soup keeps me going,’’ he said, as he invited me to enjoy the traditional cuisine.

It goes without saying Mzee ole Muyaa had his name in history books of Kajiado and the entire Maa community as a man who left a legacy.

His burial 

President Uhuru Kenyatta  eulogized the late Mzee Muyaa as a leader behind his success.

Uhuru, who attended his burial ceremony in Isinya, Kajiado East said the late introduced him to politics and was behind his appointment as branch chairman in then Thika District of ruling party KANU.

“Muyaa was sent by President Moi to ensure I take the position of chairperson,” he said during the burial of Mzee Muyaa. He noted that the late was a family friend.

He commended the late contribution to the sociopolitical development in the Maa community and the country.

The late was awarded silver medal of commendation by retired President Daniel Moi for outstanding leadership.

Uhuru said Kajiado has never had political chaos due to uniting leadership of the late leaders and challenged the leaders to unite the county by working with opposition.

“We must learn to share together and bring all communities together to build our country,” he said.

Governor Joseph ole Lenku described Mzee Muyaa as a great leader.


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