• Uhuru said Moi left an enduring legacy from education to women's empowerment.
• President says Kenyan unity was central to Mo's rule.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday paid extravagant tribute to his political godfather, former President Daniel Moi, describing him as a giant of history, an icon and political prophet.
Uhuru, who spoke at Moi’s funeral service at a packed Nyayo Stadium, painted a picture of a selfless leader who left an enduring legacy in education, women's empowerment, the transformation of the civil service and above all, Kenya’s unity.
“Today, I choose not to mourn the passing on of an icon, but rather to celebrate a Statesman and a giant of history,” Uhuru told the gathering of 30,000 people, including five regional heads of state.
Critics have said Moi established a ruthless dictatorship, intolerant of dissent, drove the economy to its knees through massive plunder and after a 24-year-rule left a legacy of entrenched impunity and deep ethnicity.
However, tracing Moi’s life journey, Uhuru mourned his political mentor as a leader who rose from humble beginnings and served with humility and diligence.
“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’,” the head of state said
Uhuru said it was Moi’s love for his country and commitment to uniting Kenyans that led to his coining the Nyayo Philosophy of Peace, Love and Unity, as a rallying call for cohesion.
At all times, The President said, Moi put country above self, with unparalleled commitment to uniting Kenyans.
The President likened the Building Bridges Initiative, which seeks to entrench inclusivity and end tribalism, to the Nyayo philosophy.
“Indeed, the Nyayo philosophy of Peace, Love and Unity not only inspires us but also finds wings in the process of validation and eventually in the implementation of our Building Bridges Initiative,” Uhuru said, referring to his peace deal with Opposition chief Raila Odinga.
In his speech, the President said Moi often overlooked political differences for the sake of Kenya.
“There was perhaps no greater evidence of this than on August 8, 1998, when President Moi stood on the still-smouldering ruins of the US Embassy, re-assuring the nation that we were safe and that the perpetrators of that heinous and cowardly act would be brought to justice,” he recalled.
“On that day, he did the unprecedented and drove to the scene of the terror attack, in the company of luminaries of the opposition parties and they stood together for Kenya.”
The President also hailed Moi as a shrewd politician who had the rare gift of predicting with precision future political trends.
“The story must be told of an astute politician, known for a seemingly prophetic ability to predict future political trends. Many, including the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, likened his foresight to that of a giraffe,” Uhuru stated.
Jaramogi likened Uhuru to a giraffe in his famous book, Not Yet Uhuru.
Although the two were fierce political competitors, Jaramogi admired Moi’s ability to manoeuvre his way through tough political terrain.
This included succeeding founding President Jomo Kenyatta despite almost insurmountable hurdles thrown his way by Kenyatta’s close associates.
According to Uhuru, from his early life, Moi understood the value of Kenya being bigger than any single person.
As such, when the Nation called for bridging divides, Moi led his party out of opposition and into Government, “thereby ensuring that our nascent Republic was devoid of partisanship and political bickering”.
Uhuru said the same spirit is what drove Kanu into handing over power in 2002 after being vanquished by Narc, then led by President Mwai Kibaki.
At that time, Uhuru himself was the Kanu presidential candidate and was largely seen as Moi’s project.
“When Kenyans spoke in 2002, he chose to abide by their wishes and led his party into the opposition,” Uhuru recalled.
He went on, “He [Moi] consistently reminded us that opposition was not an enemy to the nation but rather an alternative government in waiting, and must be loyal to the country, always promoting ideas and strategies to enhance peace, love and unity of our people.”
Uhuru said Moi’s legacy in various sectors remains evident.
“We celebrate Mzee Moi for the transformation in the Education sector through the 8-4-4 system of education, which we have recently re-energised under the Competence-Based Curriculum; we remember him for the Nyayo Free Milk Programme, which was the precursor to our current school-feeding programmes,” Uhuru said.
He hailed Moi for establishing numerous girls' schools at a time when the prevailing culture was firmly against the education of girls.
He also praised Moi for actively promoting women in leadership in politics, business and the civil service.