Moi is still here

If you disliked him, don’t revel in his passing. If you loved him, don’t mourn

In Summary

• His legacy will continue until the day none of his political students is reigning

Illustration of the late President Daniel Moi
Illustration of the late President Daniel Moi

I fold up the newspaper and hand it back to my mum. My head is starting to ache again. I close my eyes and drift off; the steady stream of oxygen is thankfully clearing the fog in my brain.

When I finally wake up, the room is dark. My mum is no longer there. I lie still for a few minutes, allowing my eyes to get accustomed to the darkened room. My pupils enlarge and my gaze lands on the remote control for the television.

It’s nearby my bedside and I reach for it and turn on the small screen. There is a live event on TV. They are covering the funeral procession of the late President Moi. Wait. When did that happen? Being in hospital often feels like taking a holiday to Mars. So much happens in the outside world that you are not aware of.


I grab my phone and go on social media, where all sorts of hashtags are up about the former President. There’s the good (for some strange reason people are calling him a conservationist and educationalist, despite a) constantly battling Nobel laureate Wangare Maathai and b) gifting us the 8-4-4 system that has produced two generations of crammers who know nothing).

There’s the bad (Goldenberg and a host of other corruption scandals). And there’s the ugly (torture and political assassinations).  

Then there’s the group that feels that despite what he did, he should be allowed to rest in peace. He did, they say, hand over power peacefully. Only in Kenya are people given props for doing what they are supposed to do. Is the bar set so low that handing over power is not what we should expect, so when it’s done we should rejoice?

Moi. How should I feel about his passing? Well, for starters, I blame him for 'Tushauriane'. This was a programme back in the day that took Kenya by storm. It was a very popular production because our viewing was so limited. We were essentially what China is today. State-run media, censorship, blah blah blah. So a programme like 'Tushariane' that followed a romance between Ester and Joe was groundbreaking.

So groundbreaking, it seems, that after the two shared a kiss on TV, the programme was banned. Please note that when I say a kiss, I don’t mean a full-on French kiss complete with passion and tongue. It was lips closed peck on lips that lingered a few seconds. All hell broke loose! I think the show was even discussed in Parliament.

Moi weighed in and said it should be banned and that was that. The greatest show in our censored lives was gone. As a kid, taking away your favourite TV show is not a forgivable offence, so Moi did no favours for himself with that move, regardless of how much free milk he gave us. But I guess millions of households had no TV, so perhaps the milk thing went well for him.

Two presidents later, I can write about my sexual shenanigans on this column, so I guess we have come a long way as a nation. We also have all sorts of programmes we can watch and hardly anyone bothers with state-run media. Freedom of expression is something we take for granted.


So… Moi. How do I feel about his passing? The reality is he’s not gone. All in power are somehow connected to him and are students of his politics. So are those in the opposition. His legacy will continue until the day none of them no longer holds the reigns. So if you disliked him, don’t revel in his passing. If you loved him, don’t mourn. Moi is still here.

Uhuru Kenyatta and Moi at Kanu elections
Uhuru Kenyatta and Moi at Kanu elections
Image: FILE