MOI LEGACY

Moi did plenty of good that can't be rubbished

'If you abused me, I forgive you and forgive me if I hurt you' - Moi

In Summary

• A man — or woman — is not measured for their greatness or contribution to society by looking at the bad they have not done but their total contribution in good and bad.

•  As for his much-storied “dictatorship,” there are those of us who up to this day believe some form of autocracy is necessary to keep troublemakers in line. 

President Daniel arap Moi
President Daniel arap Moi
Image: COURTESY

For those who are rejoicing that retired President Daniel Toroitich Moi is no more, you’re just plain wrong.

Kenya is a very religious country and so most, if not all of us, have been brought up or identify with one religion or another. And all religions hold the belief that life is  God-given and only He can take it away.

The Holy Scriptures provide an excellent road map on how to live this God-given life, and for Christians, the instruction is found in Mathew 7:12: “In everything, do unto others what you would have them do unto you” and in Mark 12;31 and Luke 10:27, where we are instructed to “love [our] neighbour as [ourselves]”

These are not instructions for Christians only, but all societies regardless of their religion.

It is also true that nearly everyone one of us has fallen short of this calling and other measures expected of God’s children going back to creation as the Bible reminds us in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

It is only a matter of degree as to our transgressions, but God also says for those who repent, they shall be forgiven. As Jesus put it in Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. During his last Jamhuri Day speech in 2002 as head of state, Moi wove in his apology with a message of reconciliation and forgiveness to all.

"If you abused me, I forgive you and forgive me if I hurt you," declared the visibly remorseful Moi as he knew his political sunset was coming.

Was that apology and request for forgiveness enough for all those he wronged?

Certainly not, going by some of the bitter comments in social media and elsewhere since the announcement of his passing.

Was it enough in God’s eyes? Yes.

A man — or woman, for that matter — is not measured for their greatness or contribution to society by looking at the bad they have not done, but their total contribution in good and bad. There’s plenty of good Moi did that cannot be rubbished simply because the bad steals the headlines.

I once was walking along State House Road in school uniform and saw Moi’s motorcade approaching. The big man’s car slowed quite a bit and this kid had the excitement of his day as the President rolled down his window and waved at him.

In hindsight, that may not be a big deal, but it was then and speaks to the man’s character on two things one cannot take away from him: His love of children and education. This is a testament to those who drank his milk in school would attest to.

I would later in life meet Moi at his hotel in New York where I was asked to pose a question to him on behalf of Kenyans he was addressing during that visit. As we crowded into his room to say hello before going downstairs, I managed to shake his hand and started telling him about a news piece in The New York Times. His handlers made sure he didn’t see the article.

A good case can be made that every president, starting from Founding Father Jomo Kenyatta, has people around them who do things not necessarily approved by them, but they get the flak and condemnation for the same. Moi was no different.

As for his much-storied “dictatorship,” there are those of us who up to this day believe some form of autocracy is necessary to keep troublemakers in line.  These are the unprincipled, out to heckle and make noise courtesy of brown bag contents and nothing else. That’s okay and even necessary.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator