Moi’s student who became Baringo independence senator dies at 89

One of Kenya’s last Independence senators has died aged 89 years.

Senator William Kiptui Rotich represented Baringo in Kenya’s first Senate in 1963.

Former President Daniel Moi was one of the people he represented in the first independence August House.

He was also a notable multiparty democracy champion since 1960s.

Rotich’s family said the former politician died at an Eldoret Hospital on Wednesday, August 16 after a long battle with cancer.

He was one of Kenya’s last surviving independence senators.

The others are Philip Toikam Lemein from Narok, M. A. Msallam from Lamu, Julius Muthamia from Meru, G.N. Kalya from Nandi and Nathan Munoko from Bungoma.

A student of former President Moi at Government African School in Kabarnet (now Kabarnet High School) in 1946, Rotich was elected the first Senator of Baringo in 1963 under KADU Party.

He served until 1966 when he joined the Kenya Peoples Union.

However, Kanu amended Kenya’s constitution to force a ‘little general election’ in which KPU was only able to win parliamentary seats in Nyanza province.

Rotich lost his bid for Baringo East parliamentary seat.

He later vied for Baringo North MP seat unsuccessfully under various political parties that included Kanu, FORD and DP.

He fought for reintroduction of multiparty democracy, working closely with former President Mwai Kibaki, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, Martin Shikuku, Moses Mudavadi and Martha Karua.

“His political career was largely unpopular due to his divergent but strong-held political views and positions including devolution, post-independence expansion of democratic space, freedom of speech, human rights and inclusion of the Kenyan people in the agenda setting and resource allocation as well as abhorring corruption in government and leadership,” his daughter, Dorcas Kiptui, told the Star.

Rotich was born around 1928 at Landain/KapBarasel village, then Saimo Location, Baringo North in Baringo County.

He went to school at Africa Inland Mission Kabartonjo Mission School, Government African School Baringo in Kabarnet (now Kabarnet High School) in 1946.

The late undertook his A-Level at Alliance High School (1948-1949) and later enrolled at the King George Medical College (currently Kenya Medical Training College) Nairobi in 1950-1952 for a diploma course in Clinical Medicine.

He worked at King George Hospital (now Kenyatta National Hospital) and in various capacities around Baringo District.

Rotich resigned from his medical profession to serve the community as a Chief for Saimo location 1958-1963.

“He promoted the Harambee spirit and initiated numerous projects including Chemususu water project, establishment of primary and secondary schools, establishment of health systems, water catchments, tree planting and conservation of forests,” his family said.

Rotich was a board member of the Kenya Ports Authority from 1981 until 1999. He was also a member of the Board of Governors of several schools.

“My dad read at least two newspapers every day throughout his life,” Dorcas said.

He is survived by his wife Jennifer Rotich, seven children, 18 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Two of his children are deceased.

Elkana Jacob

John Muchangi