Grey Maina, 79, who schooled with former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott at both Tambach Intermediate School in Elgeyo Marakwet County and Kapsabet High School in Nandi County recollects the mysterious life of his former colleague during their school days.
Maina, who comes from Keiyo South, a constituency Biwott who died on Tuesday after a long illness represented for 28 years, remembers that even in school, he kept most of his affairs secretive.
“The mystery that characterised Biwott’s life did not start when he joined politics and started to amass wealth. During our teenage days in school and at the village, you could rarely know whether he had a girl friend or not since he was not open to anybody about his private life,” he said.
It was this mystery that he carried onto his later life, as he never let anybody get to get to understand his lifestyle. “If he wanted to see you, he could come personally to your house or homestead and never allowed any one to visit him,” said Maina.
However, Maina says Biwott, though quite reserved was extremely bright in school and was always among the top six during the end term examination. “He was tiny in body size but very sharp in academic work and never failed and was rarely on the list of those who failed to finish homework,” he recalls.
Maina said after he finished school at Kapsabet High School, he went to study for a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Long Beach University College in the United States while Biwott went to further his studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
He recalls how their quest to further their studies abroad upon completing secondary school education at Kapsabet High School almost crumbled for lack of fees despite passing well.
“Church and village elders had to organise a major joint funds drive in Kitany area to raise money for our university education,” he said. Ben Tireito, another schoolmate of Biwott at Kapsabet High School, remembers that he rarely interacted with schoolmates and that when he did, it would be brief.
“Biwott used to concentrate on home work most of his free time and rarely did you find him engage in other extra-curriculum activities with schoolmates as he was cool and quite,” recalls Tireito, a prominent agri-bussinessman in Eldoret.
Michael arap Maina, a former timber merchant who grew up with Biwott also recounts how the former power man in President Moi’s regime used his battered Pick-Up vehicle for errands in Eldoret and Nairobi in the 90s.
“I used to drive him around in my KXS… green Pick-Up vehicle when he was a minister and at times, he would drive himself to his destination and later return my vehicle,” he said.
He also reveals that Biwott, whom he describes as a close friend, was a heavy smoker and alcoholic before he a got saved in Eldoret’s African Inland Church (AIC) where he worshipped every Sunday.