The late President Daniel Arap Moi died on the 4th of February 2020 in Nairobi and laid to rest on the 12th February 2020.
The retired head of State had ruled Kenya for 24 years from 1978 to 2002. He served as the third Vice President of Kenya from 1967 to 1978 and succeeded President Jomo Kenyatta following the latter’s death.
Fimbo ya Nyayo
Former President Moi’s symbol of power and authority was his trademark knobkerrie forged from gold and ivory. The knobkerrie famously known as ‘Fimbo ya Nyayo’ was a legend and urban myth.
Lee Njiru, the late president Moi’s press secretary during an interview said his boss was never comfortable in public without his symbol of authority. It never left the late president’s side and at one time, a replacement had to be flown from Nairobi to Australia when the first one broke in New York.
Even in death, his famous ivory baton has remained in his right hand at the Parliament building where his body lay in state during the public viewing.
Maziwa ya Nyayo
Mzee Moi will forever be remembered for the famous “Maziwa ya Nyayo,” Moi’s free milk programme that was introduced in 1979 and was fully funded by the government. The milk was distributed to primary schools.
Because of Maziwa ya Nyayo, school enrolment rose from 2,994,991 in 1978 to 3,698,216 in 1979. The programme made its way into children’s songs and endeared President Moi to the children, their parents and teachers.
The demand for milk also saw farmers being encouraged to increase their milk production to meet the increased demand. The programme was in place for 20 years and is said to have benefitted at least a quarter of Kenya’s population.
The late Moi was a teacher by profession before he became a politician and thus he was passionate about education amongst many other things. When he became president he sought the advice of technocrats on how to improve education from the British conveyor belt system to a more effective Kenyan one.
A number of task forces were formed whose recommendations led to three actions. These were the introduction of primary school milk scheme (1979), the introduction of the 8-4-4 curriculum (1983) and the decision to more than double university intake (1987-1990).
KBC news pieces
During the rule of President Daniel Arap Moi, KBC became the mouthpiece of the government. Each broadcast opened with a piece on what the president had been doing that day. The first news item at 7 pm went like “Rais Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi leo amezidua….”
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) is the state-run media organisation of Kenya. It broadcasts in English and Swahili, as well as in most local languages of Kenya. The corporation started its life in 1928 when Kenya was a British colony. It was formerly known as Voice of Kenya.
Nyayo House is particularly known for its detention facilities in its basement, often called as “Nyayo House torture chambers”.
Many opponents of the Moi government were beaten there by Special Branch officials (the Special Branch was later renamed the National Security Intelligence Service). Some of the known detainees at Nyayo House were George Anyona, Wahome Mutahi and Raila Odinga.
The former torture chambers have now been opened to the general public.
The former President was a force to be reckoned with and thus many public institutions and roads were named in honour of his legacy, while he fully contributed to the establishment of others.
The list of public institutions, schools and roads are endless. These include the Nyayo tea-zones, Moi International airport, Moi teaching and referral hospital, Moi Airbase, Moi University, Moi Girls Eldoret, Moi Forces Academy, Moi High School Mbiruri in Embu, Moi High School Kabarak and Moi avenue in both Nairobi and Mombasa.
Moi Day was also a holiday celebrated in honour of Late Daniel Moi on October 10th, every year. It was however renamed to Huduma Day in line with former President Daniel Arap Moi’s desire that the day is commemorated as a day of service and volunteerism.
In 1979, a portrait of retired president Daniel Moi on the Kenyan currency replaced Kenyatta’s until 2005, when the Central Bank introduced a new coin series that restored the portrait of Kenyatta.
The coins are 50 cents and Sh 1 in stainless steel and bi-metallic of Sh 5, Sh 10 and Sh 20. Sh 5 notes were replaced by coins in 1985, with the same happening to Sh 10 and Shh 20 in 1994 and 1998. In 1986, Sh 200 notes were introduced, followed by sh 500 in 1988 and Sh 1000 in 1994.
The late Moi was notorious for hiring and firing his cabinet unceremoniously and via the media. Ministers who served in Moi’s Cabinet were often fired without warning included Darius Mbela, Peter Oloo Aringo, Waruru Kanja, Maina Wanjigi, Kipkalya Kones and former Head of Civil Service Geoffrey Kareithi.
They were sacked via the dreaded 1 pm radio news bulletin on Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). At the time of their firing, some ministers were left stranded as their drivers rushed off with their official cars and flags.
This goes for the exception of Mwai Kibaki, who surprised President Daniel Moi with his resignation announced via TV on Christmas Day in 1991.
The late Moi knew the wide reach that music has and therefore he perfected the art of exploiting music as a tool of rallying the nation around him.
Choirs and various musicians came up with memorable and sing-along songs like Fimbo ya Nyayo, Maziwa ya Nyayo, Enzi Zao, Fuata Nyayo, Tushangilie Kenya and Tawala Kenya Tawala.
These songs ensured that Moi’s presence was felt in every public activity across the country. He crafted the Nyayo philosophy of peace, love and unity around which praise songs were composed and performed. The music masters and composers of his praise songs were well rewarded to ensure the endurance of his dominance.
Kenyans also recited or sung the loyalty pledge after saying the National anthem. The pledge embodied Moi’s philosophy of peace, love and unity as well as our national motto Harambee
Moi fashion sense
The late Moi will be remembered for his meticulous eye for fashion. His well-matched sharp suits, ties and shoes portrayed him as a man who cared about his looks.
He had four sets of wardrobes, one at State House (Nairobi), another at his Karbanet Gardens (Nairobi), the third one at his farm home in Kabarak and a mobile one. Each of the wardrobes was filled with suits and a variety of African outfits.
Former State House Controller Franklin Bett recently revealed that Moi had a special liking for deep grey suits. Moi’s biographer Andrew Morton from the UK noted in Moi: The Making of An African Statesman book, that the former Head of State had all his suits directly imported from British tailor Saville Row in London.
His suits were never complete without a fresh lapel flower. “The roses were part of his trademark, they put a fresh rose everyday and these flowers were picked every morning at the State House, Kabarnet gardens of his rural home in Kabarak. We never used to buy the lapel flowers, the gardens were given the utmost care and tending,” Bett recalls.
Even in his death, the late Moi was praised for his suit style.
What can you remember about Moi from his 24-year reign?