Astute leader, a patriot, a Pan-Africanist, a humble man with a tremendous capacity to reconcile, a father and a mentor in equal measure; the late former President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi touched the hearts of many, in good and in bad. He groomed leaders having been a father to many politicians who have recognized and honoured the man who ruled Kenya for 24 years. With six Heads of State in attendance for the National Memorial Service and many others sending their tribute, Moi was in touch with people and played a major role in ensuring Kenya remains in peace, thereby becoming a refuge to many, including refugees from our neighbouring countries who eventually settled as Kenyans.
Controversial as it is, the man deserved a befitting send off, having been Kenya’s second president for 24 years. He was a leader who mentored many and ensured the country runs and remains in peace despite the conflict that was being experienced by our East African neighbours and beyond. Being a Pan-Africanist, his leadership skills crossed borders. The late Daniel Moi was an enabler of peace and participated in over twenty United Nations’ sanctioned missions across the continent of Europe and Africa. Some of the countries that benefited from his leadership included Namibia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Mozambique, Liberia, Angola and South Sudan. Presidents from different nations have recognized his contributions as a leader who endeavoured to be a champion of peace among the African people. Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, South Sudan President Salvaar Kiir, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Djibouti President Omar Guelleh, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and President Brahim Ghali of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic are among the leaders who publicly recognized Moi’s contribution over the nine decades of life. Kenya was a home to many because of his astute leadership and as the Bible says, leaders are ordained from the Lord and we have a moral obligation to respect the ‘office of the presidency’.
Kenya would have been a warring nation like many countries in Africa but he believed and stood by the philosophy of peace, love and unity. The late former President had an eccentric style of leadership that was loved and hated in equal measure. Despite being humble, God-fearing and an astute leader, Moi to some, ruled with an iron fist. He was cunning in his ways and often silenced or maimed those he ‘thought’ were against his philosophical beliefs. But in his ruling, the President believed in people and moulded many political and non-political leaders. Growing up as an orphan, Moi never experienced the love of his parents but ended up offering to others as he understood and was sympathetic towards their needs and aspirations.
A lot has been said about our departed President but one thing which stands out is Moi’s endearing heart to empower children and the youth through education. Being a teacher by profession, education was one of the sectors that received unwavering attention as he had passion for the youth. Girls’ education was critical as he promoted their education even in marginalized communities at an era where young girls were being married off at a young age and many cultural communities were still deeply practicing Female Genital Mutilation. His attention to education ensured the opening of more schools at all levels and promotion of higher education.
It must be acknowledged that no man is perfect and that the Moi era was riddled with immense corruption which saw billions lost that would have otherwise made a different Kenya from what we have now. The late President did a lot of injustices to many, brutalizing Kenyans and causing poverty in sidelined regions of the country because leaders were of differing ‘political ideologies’. Leaders were victims, the media was a victim and many other Kenyans. However, the fact of the matter is that, like many others who have gone ahead of him, he is also gone, but having at least asked for forgiveness from Kenyans. Nothing can change the atrocities which happened but for the sake of the country’s healing and closure, Kenyans should forgive and embark on what can be rectified to improve the situation.