Kenya: How Kenyans Marked Moi Day

10 October 2019
opinion

So, what are you up to this Moi Day, the public holiday that is still hanging by a High Court thread?

Nothing major? Breathe easy. You are in indeed good company.

While Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i on Tuesday urged Kenyans to mark the day with selfless acts of service to their community, not many had time to organise and hold major events.

DANIEL MOI

And yes, some visited children homes and donated foodstuff to the less fortunate in the society but the bulk of Kenyans spent Thursday with family and friends.

A good number marked the day in the cyberspace, sharing thoughts and memories of the man who ruled Kenya for 24 years.

But some seemed bored and even went to the extent of questioning why the day was still a holiday in the first place.

"Kenyans are the most confused lot in the world," tweeted @I_am_AlphaX1.

"What is the logic behind celebrating Moi on #MoiDay when you keep saying he was the worst president ever? Please help me understand."

Allen Arnold agreed with him: "Surely there's nothing to celebrate about #MoiDay. But because we're Kenyans, we will take it as a drinking day."

For his part, Adrian Blomfield demanded for some answers from Dr Matiang'i and the Uhuru Kenyatta administration why there was no national plan to mark the day.

"Is there a ceremony in the Nyayo House torture chambers every #MoiDay to commemorate Moi era victims?" he posed.

"If not, why not? Is it because the Moi era never ended? On Thursday, I will remember Robert Ouko, Bishop Muge, Fr Kaiser, Masinde Muliro and all who suffered under Moi."

NYAYO ERA

The majority of Kenyans who took to Twitter and Facebook to mark Moi Day chose different paths: nostalgia, jokes and fun.

Opinion was sharply divided among the lot that chose to remember Mr Moi and his regime that was, at some point, marked by single-party rule, detention without trial, repression and dictatorship.

Some recalled the positive impact Nyayo era had on Kenya under Mr Moi's stewardship-- including national unity, political stability, expansion of schools and universities and yes, free school milk.

"Moi was a serious political adult; fully in charge of the national homestead he headed. He genuinely cared for National Unity, running a Govt largely representative of the face of Kenya," tweeted Linus Kaikai, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Royal Media Services.

"He fully protected our territorial borders. History will judge this man kindly."

For Lawrence Kitema, President Moi was a "legend".

"You are a legend H.E. D. Moi. Some memories will never fade. Happy #MoiDay," he tweeted with a photo of the 200ml school milk packet that Nyayo children enjoyed.

Other Kenyans, including FM radios, showed Moi love by sharing and singing along songs that praised the president and his leadership.

They included the choirs that entertained guests during events attended by President Moi, including Moi Day.

SONGS

They song were Tawala Kenya Tawala, Fimbo ya Nyayo, Heko Jamhuri and Sisi ni Watotowa Nyayo among others.

Famous speeches that the president made were also shared, with many focusing on his utterances towards the end of Nyayo era.

But not all were singing along.

Some Kenyans took to social media to voice what they termed as ills meted on Kenyans and Kenyan democracy by Moi.

"In 1989, President Moi wanted to destroy Uhuru Park. In its place, the government would build a 62-storey skyscraper & a 4-storey statute of Moi. They'd call it Times Tower Complex. One person stood in their way, Wangari Maathai," tweeted @nahashon87.

POLITICAL DISSENT

Blogger Robert Alai took issues with how Moi crushed political dissent.

"When Moi was President, everyone wanted to run to a foreign country," he tweeted.

"There wasn't much hope and dissent was ruthlessly quelled. Some f*** calls that principled. That was incompetence, greed and dictatorship combined."

Commentator Patrick Gathara believes President Moi ruined Kenya's education system.

"Amid all the talk about Mo1 being a 'humble teacher', do not forget how he completely destroyed education in Ke (nya) and refused to implement the 1998 Koech report," he said.

"It was during his tenure that universities were neutered as fountains of political thought and innovation."

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