NAIROBI, Kenya 11 – Kenyans from all walks of life Tuesday braved the scorching sun to pay their last respects to former President Daniel arap Moi at the Nyayo National Stadium where his memorial service was held.
Kenyans started streaming into the 35,000-seat capacity complex which received a major facelift since government designated it as the venue for an interdenominational memorial service from as early as 5.00am.
The military presence on the ground a clear indication the government was determined to accord President Moi a befitting send off with the service marking the beginning of his final journey culminating with an interment ceremony on Wednesday.
Choirs drawn from various churches entertained guests with patriotic songs pupular during President Moi’s 24-year rule.
Tawala Kenya, a famous song that was authored by renowned composer Thomas Wasonga was sang in different renditions by the choirs present with Kenyans joining in to celebrate the life of the longest serving President thus far.
Kenyans who seated in various parts of the stadium could be seen waving red caps bearing miniature portraits of Mzee Moi as they danced along to the tune, and at the end of it bursting into an applause.
Top government officials also made their way to the stadium to pay their last respects to a man who was a mentor to many in the political arena.
President Uhuru Kenyatta whose political ambition was thrust to the public limelight courtesy of President Moi in 2002 when he endorsed his candidature for the presidential election in which Mwai Kibaki carried the day, arrived at the venue at 10.08am.
He was received by Deputy President William Ruto and Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Ambassador Kamau Macharia.
Six other Heads of State including Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Salva Kirr (South Sudan), Sahle Zwede (Ethipoia), Omar Gulleh (Djibouti), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Brahim Ghalli (Sahrawi) also made their way to the stadium with eighteen foreign delegations in attendance.
Nigeria’s Deputy President Yemi Osibanjo, UK Representative Prince Richard the Duke of Gloucester.
Former Presidents present included Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa both from Tanzania.
Former Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Luwasa was also present.
The military whose procession started from State House, Nairobi where the visiting Heads of State had gathered arrived at the Nyayo sports complex at 10.15am where most Kenyans were treated to a spectacular military show.
The honors accorded to President Moi were similar to those of his predecessor the nation’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta who died in 1978.
The military in their three formations marched round the stadium as Kenyans who were up on their feet watched in admiration.
The casket bearing President Moi’s remains was draped in the national flag was later placed on the crypt with President Kenyatta leading his colleagues in laying their last respects.
The service began with the hymn song ‘To God be the Glory’ with Kenyans joining in unison to celebrate the life of President Moi.
President Moi’s son Philip read a brief scripture from the book of Thessalonians after which Moi’s eldest surviving son Raymond took to the podium to read his father’s eulogy.
The service that was led by the Retired Bishop Silas Yego, a longtime friend of President Moi started afterwards with President Moi’s humble personality being made public.
“President Moi used to tell us that the Lord should be honoured at all times. Everyday someone would come to State House and ask for donations which he delightly gave,” he said.
Bishop Yego encouraged that President Moi’s acts of generosity should be emulated noting his joy was always to put a smile on the people he helped during his tenure in office.
Yego emphasized that President Moi was a leader who believed in forgiving and was keen on seeking pardon to those he had wronged.
“He believed in forgiveness. He was a leader who never wanted to lie,” he said.
President Moi will be buried on Wednesday at his Sacho home in Kabarnet, Baringo County, where the family said that his final rites will be private.