Leaders whose career in politics was founded by the late President Daniel arap Moi have described him as a humble father-figure and a teacher who knew how to nurture leadership of the future.
Led by former Vice President and ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, former Makadara MP Fred Gumo, former minister Katana Ngala and Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri and sportsman Sam Nyamweya, the leaders said though Moi was viewed as a dictator, he ensured there was discipline in politics.
“I never saw dictatorship but discipline and firm decisions of leadership. He was full of wisdom and knowledge,” former State House Assistant Comptroller and assistant minister Franklin Bett said.
They also admitted that they credit their careers in politics to Moi for having moulded and supported them when they were novices and naive adding that he was generous.
They also defended claims that Moi was a dictator saying as a President ‘you must be respected and feared’.
Speaking outside Lee Funeral Home after viewing the body, Mr Mudavadi said Moi was mistaken for dictatorship because of being firm and advocating for discipline.
“He surprised many when he allowed constitutional amendments leading to multi-partism,” said the former Finance Minister.
According to him, Moi will be remembered for making the country stable in terms of national unity, participating in environment conservation and peace in African countries such as Uganda and Sudan.
Mr Ngunjiri said he attributes his political and economic growth to Moi having made him leader of Kanu party in Nakuru for a long time.
“ He was transparent, honest and liked youth leadership. Moi had a big heart for all people of all races and tribes. He left a country with stable politics and current leaders should emulate him,” said Mr Ngunjiri.
Senator Wetang’ula eulogised Moi as a fierce crusader of peace and a lover of education and children.
He was nominated to Parliament by the former Head of State, and that marked beginning of his political career.
“He served for 24 years in the office of the President and nobody is likely to spend such a time in State House. He held my hand as I cut my first tooth in politics,” said Mr Wetangula.
On accusations that Moi was a dictator, the lawyer-cum-senator said despite all transgressions, Moi deserves credit for steering the country in most difficult times and political turbulence such as during clamour for multipartyism.
Mr Nyamweya, a member of the infamous YK92 youth group eulogised Moi as a man who cared more about the future of the country.
He says that is the reason why Moi nurtured people like President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto among others.
“In 1992, we organised ourselves and campaigned for his re-election. We interacted with him and I can say he never discriminated anybody,” said Mr Nyamweya.
Mr Gumo said the former President was an ardent believer of the Christian faith and would quote bible verses randomly.
“Moi enjoyed being in the Presidency and was never threatened by anybody. He used to address people in impromptu tours,” stated Mr Gumo.
On Moi’s generosity, Mr Gumo said the former President used to invite his friends for lunch at State House and they would rush there only to find there were like 20 others also invited. Moi never ate alone, according to Mr Gumo.
He further defended claims that Moi was a dictator saying as a President ‘you must be respected and feared’.
“Without fear a President cannot manage people. Moi managed the people and country well. Moi never attacked his adversaries directly. He enjoyed life as a President and even in retirement,” said Mr Gumo.
After leaving State House, the politician had a sitting with Moi who told him that he was happy to see those who criticised his leadership in office facing the challenges he was also facing.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr asked the current political leaders to emulate the leadership of Mzee Moi by being torelant and by cultivating national unity.
“Moi brought pastoralist communities to the mainstream decision making table in government. He will be remembered for implementing what he said and ensuring a democratic transition of power in 2002 when others thought he would cling to power,” said Mr Duale.
Two of the public servants who served for long under President Moi were Mr Francis Baya who served as the Provincial Commissioner (PC) for Rift Valley and Mr Ngala who served in several ministerial dockets under his leadership.
In an interview with the Nation, the two leaders talked of a man who loved his people and was generous to anyone who would get an opportunity to be close to him.
Mr Ngala talked of how he worked under Mzee Moi and how the retired President worked tirelessly to serve Kenyans even at the height of multiparty when the country transited from a single party system.
“I am shocked by his death but I know in him rests a leader who loved this country to the core. He was ready to make sure that Kenyans live in peace,” says Mr Ngala.
He added: “I served in his administration in different ministerial dockets and he was a good but a strict leader to work with. He wanted things done not for him but to the country. He was happy all the time he would see Kenyans happy and he was ready to make sure the bond of unity for Kenyans was upheld.”
Mr Ngala served for many years as Ganze MP during Mzee Moi’s times and he was appointed to several ministries including the ministry of lands and also information ministry, culture and heritage ministry.
“The death has shocked us but it is God’s plan and we shall continue to remember the good deeds Mzee Moi did to Kenyans,” added Ngala.
Mr Baya talked about the many engagement he had with the Mzee Moi and how at times he would invite all the ministers and permanent secretaries for lunch, eating together amid laughter all the time.
Mr Baya said the death of Mzee Moi brings to an end a curtain of a leader who strived to make sure that Kenya was peaceful even at the height of agitation for democratic changes in the country.
“It is even very difficult to describe Mzee Moi because he has many faces. First he was a good person to everyone, he was generous to whoever would get an opportunity to come close to him. Again he was able to financially assist any Kenyan he would meet even on the roadside,” said Mr Baya.
The former powerful PC in Rift Valley said he joined Mzee Moi’s administration in the early 80s and was based in Nanyuki then.
Mr Baya said at the time, Mzee Moi’s administration was still young and was going through lean and difficult times including the failed 1982 coup.
“I was only three years in his administration when the 1982 coup happened. I remember after that, I worked closely with him and later he promoted me as the PC,” said Mr Baya.