The Untold Story of Lena Moi


Helena Bomett, widely known as Lena Moi, was born in 1926. She was a student at the AIM school in Eldama Ravine and later joined Tenwek Girls’ Boarding school in Kericho. At one time, she became the face of educated converts, together with her brother William Bomett. She returned to be a primary school teacher and would visit the local churches together with Moi. This is a result of the exposure in the US with some Christian families. She was famous for being an iron lady with a great sense of humor, as stated in Paul Chemirchir in Moi’s biography. According to a story published in the Daily Nation, she was the first lady Kenya never had.

Lena and Moi’s relationship

Lena was the daughter of the late Paul Bomett family. Moi came to later marry her after a long close interaction of Moi and the whole family of the Bometts. It was during this period that Moi and Lena started dating. Moi also got a lot of respect from the whole family of the Bomett for being a tall, handsome and well-mannered orphan.

Moi married Lena one year after returning from training as a teacher at Kagumo Teachers College in a ceremony conducted by reverend Erik Barnett. Erik’s Barnett choice was final in the service. Compared to the fact that Barnett’s family was instrumental in Moi’s education, Erik’s younger brother, Paul, had baptized Lena. This was his first responsibility after coming back to Kenya from his missionary mission.

The story of Kipkorios Toroitich Arap Moi and Helena (Lena) started when Moi left the family of the Bometts and stayed in the family of the Barnetts. Moi had taken off to the mission to get an education at the Barnetts-run Africa Inland mission.

After getting married, Lena abandoned her teaching career and concentrated on bringing up her family, settling down with Moi at the Tambach government school. It is at this place that her first two children, Jenniffer and Jonathan Kipkemboi were born in 1952 and 1953, respectively.

Lena Moi in the political scene

Helena appeared in the political scene in the 1960s and early 1970s as the vice president’s wife. Things started taking a new direction in her marriage after Moi was appointed to the Legco to replace the inefficient John Ole Tameno. The fallout of Moi with the Bometts family appeared to have started in 1961 election when his brothers-in-law, Eric Bomett vied against him as an independent candidate in the general election.

As Moi was on the move in the pre-independence politics, Lena became a housewife to care for the children. It was Moi’s appointment as vice-president that brought her to the national limelight. She did enjoy six years of fame. She later moved to Nakuru’s Delamere(now Moi) flats in the Milimani area and enrolled her children at St Joseph’s primary school. The neighbors loved her for being humble. President Jomo Kenyatta bestowed on her on January 1st, 1968, due to her popularity for her service to the community. This was with the order of the Golden Heart Medal.

In the same week, Lena led the government delegation that received Mrs. Humphrey at the Embakasi Airport, although she held no government position. Lena and Moi started growing apart after Moi got deeply engaged in politics. His devotion to politics made Lena unhappy, leading to their breakup.

Her Demise in the Political Scene

In 1974, Lena started disappearing slowly from the public arena. Little is known about what else caused misunderstanding. Lena publicly refused to dance with Kenyatta during a dinner dance at Rift Valley Technical College. She believed that dancing was sinful for a Christian. She moved out of the vice-president official home and settled on the Kabimoi ranch farm in Baringo. Lena left Moi with the children hoping that Moi would return to the marital home once he was done with politics. She then took off from the politics in the middle of the 1970s. Kenyans didn’t hear from her again until her death in 2004.


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