President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed concerns about rising political intolerance and ethnic tensions, saying the actions by a few politicians do not bode well for the nation.
“The arrogance we see today by some of the political leaders seeking to lead the country after I retire is worrying. It has raised many challenges and leaves me wondering what future this country has” said President Kenyatta.
“The arrogance and hate will not help. Respect and humility is paramount. It is good to remind ourselves as a nation where we have come from, the journey we have travelled, and where we want to see this country in future.”
The Head of State was speaking yesterday when he led Kenyans in marking the first anniversary of the death of former President Daniel arap Moi at Kabarak in Nakuru County.
He recalled the role played by Moi in fostering peace and ensuring the country remained united in the face of increasing political and ethnic tensions.
He was accompanied by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and members of Moi’s family, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and party leaders Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya).
Also present were governors Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), senators Ephraim Maina (Nyeri), Johnstone Sakaja (Nairobi) and Halake Abshiro (nominated), MPs William Kamket (Tiaty), Ayub Savula (Lugari), Peter Mwathi (Limuru), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi) and Baringo Woman Representative Gladwell Chepwkony.
The leaders remembered Moi for his generosity, great strength of character, patience and humility.
Speaker after speaker at the memorial service that was presided over by head of the African Inland Church Bishop Abraham Mulwa recalled how Moi shaped their political careers.
Father to many
“Mzee Moi was a man of great character, patience and humility. Truly, Moi was a father to this country, a father to many of us. One thing I would like to remind many today is that respect is paramount,” President Kenyatta said.
He continued: “Moi served my father for 17 years with great respect and honour. He served the country for 24 years with a lot of respect and honour. He respected his successor, President Mwai Kibaki, whom he handed over to peacefully.
Moi, who led the country from 1978 to 2002, died on February 4 last year at the age of 95. He served as vice president between 1967 and August 1978 when he took over after the death of President Jomo Kenyatta.
In 2004, the retired president asked for forgiveness from anybody he might have wronged.
President Kenyatta revealed that during his first term as Head of State, he found it difficult to visit Moi at his Kabarak farm because of the respect the former president showed him despite being his elder.
“At the beginning of my presidency, it was tough for me to come here to visit Mzee (Moi). He would rise up from his seat in respect and say ‘karibu, your excellency’,” Uhuru said, adding that the experience was humbling because it was Moi who had nurtured his political career.
Uhuru said the country had a history of people who fought for independence and sacrificed a lot for the freedom currently being enjoyed, but which they never lived to see and enjoy.
“Equally, we have those who lived to enjoy the freedom, got positions in government and lived to build the country. Moi built a strong foundation for the country and we want to leave the same legacy.”
The president said that instead of leaders helping to build a united country, they were busy destroying it an attempt to get power.
“They are those who have brought in demolition squads instead of builders. My fellow Kenyans, let us not bring a demolition squad instead of builders who will ensure a better future for all.”
Kalonzo did not mince his words on the political direction the country was taking, saying Deputy President William Ruto’s talk on hustlers versus dynasties was divisive and retrogressive.
According to the former vice president, Ruto benefitted greatly from Moi’s counsel and leadership. “The DP was in government during the late President Moi’s tenure. He welcomed NDP to Kanu, and he was in charge of Kanu.”
Kalonzo said Moi treated Ruto as a son “and made him who he is”, therefore it was not right for him to refer to others as ‘dynasties’.
He criticised Ruto for ‘disrespecting’ Uhuru and Moi’s family, saying this had created a political rift in the past two years.
“Mr President, you have been abused by the people calling themselves hustlers. But you have taken it all in and kept quiet, showing good leadership skills because we need to build our nation,” Kalonzo said.
“It is sad that the deputy president has now radicalised even members of Parliament to attack colleagues on podiums.
“We thought that only the jobless were being radicalised. The results of the DP’s actions were seen on Monday where MPs exchanged blows in public. These wars have been instigated by the DP,” Kalonzo said.
According to Kalonzo, Ruto was also to blame for the abuse former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has been hurling at Uhuru after he was impeached.
The Wiper leader asked for forgiveness on behalf of Sonko, saying, “Mr President, these are our young politicians and we will mentor them after this episode ends.”
In his tribute, Mudavadi challenged Uhuru to borrow a leaf from Moi and chastise errant leaders who were dividing Kenyans.
Mudavadi said leaders have a role to play in creating jobs for the youth and helping farmers increase production.
“It is upon us to play the ball that Moi left us. We need to score goals but anyone who is not playing as expected should be put on the bench for us to win. This is the role of a captain of any team.”
In an apparent reference to the ongoing debate on hustlers versus dynasty, Mudavadi urged leaders to remember Moi’s simple life as a teacher and how he rose through the ranks to lead the nation.
“President Moi was so humble; his beginnings were so humble. He was the epitome of humility. You would not know the six-foot individual was actually what he was.
“Even in my autobiography, I captured some moments that I was told by my parents about Moi. Times were hard, my mother told me, so Moi would take an axe to cut firewood so that Lenah Moi could cook. This is humility.”
Mudavadi said Moi earned the trust of children, adults and presidents across the globe. Uhuru, he added, had managed to unite Kenyans because of the leadership skills he picked up from his mentor.
“President Kenyatta, you have done well. When Moi wanted you to be the president in 2002, it was a matter of time. You have accorded this family respect, and Kibaki’s. Even as we speak about BBI, you are Moi’s good student.”
The ANC leader urged politicians to stop dividing Kenyans, adding that it was wrong to disrespect the holders of public office.
“Let us move away from impunity and the culture of abuse. Let us follow Chapter 6 on matters of integrity. This is a legacy that will bind us together. Let us maintain peace and patriotism,” Mudavadi said.
Wetang’ula described Moi as a great man who introduced him to active politics.
“I pay testimony to a great man through whose courtesy I joined politics. We can remember Mzee Moi for many things; full of compassion and religious. I can’t remember hearing of him missing going to church. He entered armed with a Bible and truly worshipped God, keeping aside his power,” the Bungoma senator said.
Wetang’ula recalled Moi’s initiative to bring peace and ensure unity in the country.
“He built bridges everywhere. He was a humble servant leader who identified with any Kenyan regardless of social status. The manifesto of his first party Kadu was on the foundation of modern-day democracy.
“When Mzee Moi left office, the skeptics didn’t believe it. He willfully walked out of that big office. It is not easy as seen in other African countries. He had the interest of Kenyans at heart,” Wetang’ula said.
Rongai MP Raymond Moi said yesterday was not a day of mourning but a date to remember Moi for what he did for the nation.
He said his father interacted with everyone and people had fond memories of him. He noted that Moi also uplifted the lives of many and asked other leaders to emulate him.
Governor Kinyanjui said Moi’s magic word in his life was forgiveness.
“Moi always forgave and asked for forgiveness despite his power. His clarion call was peace, love and unity despite the tough times he led the country when cohesion was being sought.
“He never sought any favours at the cost of dividing Kenyans. This being the first anniversary, let it be a tradition every year to remember this great patriot who selflessly led this country,” Kinyanjui said
Governor Khaemba recalled how Moi was a man who believed in prayers. “We are remembering the philosophy he espoused. This is the time we realise that we need that philosophy like never before. Let us practice what he used to say and do. He loved all the communities, poor and rich.
“He would practically show Kenyans the way. He built gabions and showed the need for environmental conservation. Let us continue to follow in his footsteps in every aspect of life. I ask Kenyans to pray for their leaders. If they have such support, it is for the good of the country.”
Tolgos also had fond memories of his first encounter with Moi. “When I was a student, I was lucky to visit him. He bought me my first phone. As we celebrate his life, let us remember his philosophy. These other narratives do not add value to our lives. Moi was a man with no boundaries.”