Moi championed unity, we mended fences, says Raila

ODM leader eulogises Moi as a great patriot, who, like other mortals, made mistakes.

In Summary
  • Raila says he reconciled with Moi long after detention for six years without trial.
  • Ruto said Moi was the father of the nation. 
ODM leader Raila Odinga after consoling the Moi family in Parliament on February 10, 2020
ODM leader Raila Odinga after consoling the Moi family in Parliament on February 10, 2020

ODM leader Raila Odinga, who was once tortured and detained during the Nyayo era, on Tuesday said he forgave and made peace with the late President Moi.

Raila said Moi made great contributions to the country "but like any human being had his own weaknesses".

"In trying to consolidate unity among the people of Kenya, Moi made some mistakes. I was one of the victims," he said.

He spoke as he paid his tribute to the second president at a state funeral service held in Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, on Tuesday.

Raila, whose political career had run-ins with Moi's Kanu administration, sought to honour the former president as a man who had a big heart to forgive.

"But he was also forgiving like I am... We made our peace and shook hands and worked together to bring this country the new Constitution," he said in a conciliatory tone.

In 1982, Raila was charged with treason over the abortive coup and detained for six years. He was released in February 1988 but six months later detained again and released in June 1989.

Raila said while Moi took over from his predecessor Jomo Kenyatta at a time the county was going through a major transition, he managed to steer it together.

"We have come to say farewell to one of the great leaders of our country. A lot has been said about him(Moi), but we want to say that he was one of the freedom fighters of our country," he told the gathering.

Raila said Moi's legacy to unite the country informed his decision and that of President Uhuru Kenyatta to bring Kenyans together through the Building Bridges Initiative.

"We remember him (Moi) for the good things he did as we work together to bring the country together and forget the wrong things." 

Deputy President William Ruto described Moi as a great pan-Africanist, statesman and selfless leader who mentored many leaders in the country.

Ruto, a political student of Moi, said like any other human, "President Moi was not perfect."

"As a person who was very close to him in the last three years of his presidency,  I can say without fear of contradiction that Moi was always genuine and meant the best for Kenya. He did his best," he said.

He hailed Moi as a man who tirelessly championed for national unity and peace during his 24-year rule. "President Moi stands out. Taking over from our founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, he consolidated this country and brought on board all communities, including the marginalised to the mainstream of the nation of Kenya."

He said Moi expanded the opportunities for many Kenyans to acquire education during his tenure. "Without a doubt, President Moi was a great teacher and his footprints in the entire education system in Kenya are evident." 

Moi went out of his way to do the best for this country as a true nationalist and patriot, he added. "His belief in Kenya inspired many of us and influenced the people we are today."

Retired President Mwai Kibaki said Moi was a legend and master of thwarting crises with rare ability to assert state authority. "That is how largely Kenya stabilised as a number of countries in the region suffered disruptions and long periods of civil unrest," Kibaki said in a speech read by Laikipia Governor Nderitu Muriithi.

The third president of Kenya said Moi demonstrated his charisma when in 2002 he oversaw an unprecedented smooth transition of power to him. "His willingness to usher the next head of state remains a badge of honour on his leadership as well as his statesmanship credentials."

Kibaki succeeded Moi after winning the 2002 election in which he defeated Moi's preferred candidate, President Uhuru Kenyatta. This marked the end of Moi's 24-year rule.

Moi died on February 4 and is to be buried on Wednesday at his Kabarak home, Nakuru county.