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Don’t come with BBI or party T-Shirts to Moi funeral: govt

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya (pointing) and other security chiefs at Kabarak University where Moi’s funeral service will be held on Wednesday. /CFM.

KABARAK, Kenya, Feb 11 – No attires with political messages will be allowed at the late President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi’s during his burial in Kabarak on Wednesday, authorities have warned.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya on Tuesday urged Kenyans to adhere to instructions given to allow them access to Kabarak University, where the ceremony will take place.

He, however, said only those branded KANU will be allowed in honor of Moi who led the party throughout his time in office as Kenya’s second president.

“I am asking all those who will come here tomorrow not to complicate things by wearing attires with political messages except those of KANU because we all know Mzee was the leader of KANU,” Natembeya said, “the rest are prohibited.”

“I hope Kenyans will follow these instructions because we do not want even those with BBI messages. If you come with such clothes. We will throw you out,” he warned.

Moi, whose 24-year rule saw Kenya become a one-party state where critical voices were ruthlessly crushed, died on February 4 aged 95.

A colourful state memorial was held in his honour on Tuesday at the Nyayo National Stadium, where President Uhuru Kenyatta was joined by six Heads of State and dozens of local dignitaries. The memorial was attended by over 30,000 people.

At the Kabarak University where his funeral service will be held, state officials said they expect at least another 30,000.

“We are now ready for Mzee Moi’s burial ceremony. All the preparations we needed to do we have completed,” he said and urged guests to the funeral service to be seated by 7am.

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Thousands of Kenyans on Tuesday gathered to mourn the country’s longest-serving leaderas a week of mourning climaxed with a state funeral.

President Uhuru Kenyatta praised Moi as a ‘champion of pan-Africanism’ © AFP / SIMON MAINA

Mourners began gathering at a national athletics stadium before dawn to pay their respects.

Moi, who towered over Kenya between 1978 and 2002, lay in state for three days in parliament, with tens of thousands of people filing past.

On Tuesday morning, he was taken on a gun carriage draped in Kenya’s flag through the streets of Nairobi to the crowded Nyayo national stadium flanked by soldiers.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who opened the memorial with the national anthem, called Moi “a champion of Pan-Africanism.”

– Forgiveness –

The cortege entered the stadium flanked by long lines of red-coated soldiers and a brass band playing marching tunes and Christian hymns, their boots glinting in the bright sun.

Women from Maralal in northern Kenya attended the funeral © AFP / SIMON MAINA

Former opponent Raila Odinga, who was jailed for several years under Moi, called the late leader a “greater fighter” but who had eventually accepted multiparty politics.

“I was one of the victims… but he was also forgiving, like I am also forgiving, and we made our peace, and we shook hands, and then worked together,” Odinga said.

“We remember the good things that he did,” he added.

Those targeted by his regime included human rights and environmental activists, including the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o and the future Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

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Moi was however praised for keeping Kenya a relative haven of peace during a chaotic period in East Africa which saw the genocide in Rwanda and civil wars in Burundi and Somalia.

His later return — under significant pressure — to multiparty elections in 1992, and peaceful handover of power to opposition leader Mwai Kibaki in 2002 also won him some praise.

– Loved and feared –

Vice President William Ruto, who comes from the same Kalenjin people as Moi, mourned a “father of the nation.”

Several foreign leaders from regional nations attended the ceremony, including Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and former Tanzanian presidents, Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa, spoke at the ceremony to offer their condolences to Kenya.

Several East African leaders, including Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, attended the funeral © AFP / SIMON MAINA

“One of the gallant leaders of this great country,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame said.

The body of the late president will be buried on Wednesday in his home area of Kabarak, 220 kilometres (135 miles) northwest of Nairobi.

The usually congested and noisy streets of Nairobi were quiet, with Tuesday declared a national holiday.

While those at the stadium had come to pay their respects to a ruler they revered, others in Kenya remembered a man that they had long feared.

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Moi’s 24-year rule saw critical voices crushed, corruption become endemic and tribal divisions stoked and turn bloody.

Moi was however praised for keeping Kenya a relative haven of peace during a chaotic period in east Africa.

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