NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4- Phoebe Asiyo is among Kenyans concerned by the current “unhygienic” political environment in the country, where violence and use of vulgar language has become the norm.
Could this have happened under former President Daniel Arap Moi’s rule? She poses aloud.
Asiyo prides herself as the first elected female Member of Parliament, a feat she carried to also become the first female Kisumu Mayor.
When Moi was a Vice President under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, she served as a member of staff in his office.
She has seen it all as Moi waded through the murky political waters to become the most powerful Kenyan leader.
Moi is dead but she figuratively said “we need Moi in this country, more than ever before.”
“It was unheard of for young people to insult their president. Moi would tell you it is wrong,” Asiyo told Capital News, during an interview outside the Lee Funeral home, where she had gone to view Moi’s body following his death on Tuesday.
Her reference to the current political environment was anchored on the current situation where President Uhuru Kenyatta continues to be politically mocked by his juniors.
“It is unbelievable that Africans no longer shy away from insulting their leaders,” the 88-year-old asserted.
Moi, who served as Mzee Kenyatta’s Vice President for 12 years and later 24 years as President, is ruled with an iron fist.
“Was Moi a dictator?” a common question asked by journalists to those paying their last respects to Moi at the Lee Funeral home in Nairobi.
According to Asiyo, Moi “was simply firm. Then the political environment was tough.”
It is the said “firmness” she believes would bring hygiene in the current political environment.
“Maybe we need to learn from his leadership, in a bid to straighten some things,” she said before quickly adding “with democracy. I think some firmness but with democracy will be good for the country.”
She said Moi was ‘successful’ in his leadership because he would listen to advice.
“Listening is a great attribute. Not so many leaders have the ability to listen,” she said.
Her advice to the current politicians, “be like Moi. Walk to all parts of the country, interact with the poor and listen to them.”
Capital News also caught up with Joe Aketch, former Nairobi Mayor who also served for 17 years as Chief Executive Officer of the Nairobi branch of the then ruling party Kenya African National Union (KANU).
He remembers Moi for his open-door policy, a rare trait in the current political dispensation.
“You would call State House and if not busy, he would request you to go see him,” said Aketch, who referred to Moi as “my political father”.
He narrated of an incident in the United States where he rooted for KANU, despite fierce criticism by Kenyans living there.
“I did not know KANU had become infamous among the Kenyan community abroad, so I carried on praising our party,” he said.
Upon returning back to the country, he received a ‘presidential call’- it was Moi.
“I am happy with you,” it is the words, Aketch says Moi used. “I was happy. I did not know how he got the information.”
Like tens of politicians in the country, his political roots are deeply anchored on Moi’s palm.
“I am who I am because of his blessings. I have lost a father,” with a sense of pride, Aketch said.
If he was to detail Moi’s legacy, he said it would be his investment in education and his ability to unite the country and maintain peace.
The former President died on Tuesday morning at the Nairobi hospital, and President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared national mourning period until his State burial, during which flags will fly at half-mast.