MOI'S FUNERAL SERVICE

Moi's final journey to the stadium he built

A ragged and barefooted orphan boy who knocked on the door of white Missionaries in search of help and enlightenment

In Summary

• People arrived for Moi's funeral service as early as 4am at Nyayo stadium.

•There was push and shove in the queue as the public impatiently tried to gain access into the stadium.

The military truck carrying Mzee Moi's body arrives at Nyayo Stadium on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
The military truck carrying Mzee Moi's body arrives at Nyayo Stadium on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

By 6am, Wycliffe Wesonga was seated on terrace at Nyayo Stadium. He did not know what to expect, but was happy to pay his respect to the late president.

Wesonga had arrived in Nairobi at 5am from Bungoma County to attend the former president Daniel Arap Moi’s funeral service.

For the 46 years he has lived, the father of four had never set foot in the city, and had only seen the president at a far distance during a function in Lugari.

 

“The bread and soda did not bring me,” he quipped, “I just felt the need to pay my last respect to the leader who gave us milk in the remote village of Musikoma”.

Like Wesonga, many people who arrived early were dressed in red t-shirts and caps written "Mkae Kwa Amani (Live in Peace) and held a newspaper, largely owned by the Moi family.

Despite having arrived early, Wesonga said they found some people already settled in the terrace and a long queue at the stadium entrance.

There was push and shove in the queue as the public impatiently tried to gain access into the stadium.

From the red-carpeted podium, Nyayo stadium showcases a breathtakingly green field with well-trimmed grass.

A brown runway and concrete gutter separated the field from the curved white and green terraces, fitted with chairs and protective grills.

Behind the podium covered with white tent and decorated with Kenyan flags, stood a glassed-wall building that gave it a sleek modern look.

 

The modern look deceives the eyes about the age of a stadium that has has been in existence for close to three decades.

These are the result of a facelift it recently received and inspected by President Uhuru Kenyatta himself. The 30,000-seater sports facility hosted the 1987 All Africa Games, four years after it was constructed by former President Moi's government.

Befittingly perhaps, Moi's interdenominational funeral service was on Tuesday held at the stadium led by Moi’s longtime friend and spiritual leader Bishop Silas Yego of Africa Inland Church (AIC).

Donned in a black suit fitted with a flower lapel and a white shirt accessorized with a black tie underneath, President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived in Nyayo at exactly 10.15am on Tuesday.

Behind the presidential convoy was a military platoon wheeling a jungle-green gun stately carriage which had remains of Kenya’s second president who had ruled for 24 years.

His casket, valued at Sh2 million, was draped in the national flag with 36 military officers in the ceremonial uniform of the rank of Major and above, as pallbearers.

The flag cover is symbolic to affirm that the fallen soldier is mourned by the entire nation and appreciated for his sacrifice.

Mzee Moi's body had left Lee Funeral Home for State House where the head of state and his family paid their last respects before the procession made way to Nyayo Stadium.

At Lee, the body had been carried in a small but artful hearse to State House as part of full military honour accorded to the former president.

Making its exit, through Gate A at State House, the truck was driven slowly, with the military band playing sorrowful tunes.

Different military officers distinguished by the colour of their regalia snaked their way from State House through Processional Way, to Kenyatta Avenue, Uhuru highway before getting to the stadium past Bunyala roundabout. The route had been cordoned off to the public.

At least 10 heads of state are expected to attend the burial of former President Daniel arap Moi at his Kabarak home on Wednesday.

Among the leaders who will be in attendance are Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Tanzania's John Magufuli, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, South Sudan's Salva Kiir, Ethiopia's Sahle Work-Zewde and the DRC's Felix Tshisekedi.

Other dignitaries are Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Nigeria's Deputy President Yemi Osinbajo, Namibia Deputy President Nickey Iyambo, former Tanzanian Presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa, and Burundi foreign Affairs Minister Alain Aimé Nyamitwe. The Queen's representative will also be present.

On Tuesday the security remained alert and anyone causing trouble or disregarding the rules was jerked out of the stadium.

There was a slight altercation between Kagame’s bodyguards and the presidential security as the Rwanda president make his way into the stadium.

A heckler who tried to access the VIP area during Senator Gideon Moi's speech was nabbed by hawk-eyed security officers and frog marched out of the stadium.

Tribute were paid, from the family, friends and president Kenyatta before a service begun.

“Today, I choose not to mourn the passing on of an icon, but rather to celebrate a Statesman and a giant of history,” said Uhuru in his tribute.

“We celebrate the remarkable journey of faith and hope that began in a sleepy village in Kabartonjo. The story must be told - of a ragged and barefooted orphan boy - knocking on the door of white Missionaries in search of help and enlightenment, at a time when illiteracy had a firm grip on our people and education was considered “foreign” and “unwelcome”.