Kenya's athletics legend Kipchoge Keino and Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on Tuesday led the sports community in mourning Kenya's second president Daniel Arap Moi, remembering him for his contribution to the development of the country's sports infrastructure.
The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and Athletics Kenya also paid tribute to President Moi who passed on Tuesday morning at the Nairobi Hospital.
Keino, an Olympic gold medal winner at the 1968 Mexico Games (1,500) and 1972 Munich Games (3,000m steeplechase), described Moi as an amiable person who loved sports and ensured that Kenyan sportsmen and women had the best facilities.
"That is why he had to build the Nyayo National Stadium in 1983 and the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, in 1987. He made sure other venues like Ruring'u in Nyeri and Moi Stadium, Kisumu, were in good conditions for usage," said Keino, a former NOC-K chairman and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.
Keino explained that the construction of these venues not only saw Kenya put in successful bids to host major events, but also helped nurture and produce world beating stars.
TRAINED IN GOOD CONDITIONS
Keino explained that President Moi ensured that all the top public learning institutions, like the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University, among others, had modern sporting facilities.
The Olympics legend said it's a shame that the subsequent governments had not put up new and modern facilities to suit the changing times. "Look at Kenyatta University, they have some of the best sporting facilities in the region thanks to Moi," said Keino, adding that the retired president made sure that Kenyan teams to the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and other major sporting events were well taken care of and trained in good conditions.
Keino also remembered with nostalgia when the President conferred him with an Honorary Doctorate at the Egerton University in 1999.
"He offered and rewarded sportsmen and women who had excelled with land, cows among other goodies, his generosity cutting across all the disciplines in soccer, hockey, volleyball and basketball," recalled Keino.
"I recall Moi's unbound dedication to the welfare of this country and her people, particularly, women and children," said CS Amina, adding that as she traversed the country during her tenure as Cabinet Secretary for Education, she was always struck by the number of schools that were established under his patronage.
"His devotion to education was truly unsurpassed," the CS added.
Amina noted that Moi's philosophy on self-reliance as a country earned Kenya global respect and gave the country's people "the impetus to deepen efforts to educate all, nurture public health, empower communities and grow the economy."
"In this hour of national grief, I extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Senator Gideon Moi, the entire Moi family and the people of Kenya," said Amina.
A statement from NOC-K mourned Moi as a true supporter of sports and of the Olympic movement. It explained that Moi was always on the forefront in supporting Kenya's teams to the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and other international competitions, "right from the country's nation's independence in 1963, and all through his Presidency from 1978 to 2002."
"Kenya's successful hosting of the Fourth All-Africa Games in 1987 was due to Moi's personal initiatives and the construction of the Nyayo National Stadium and Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, which remain Kenya's only international standard stadiums, form a huge part of his legacy," said the statement. The statement noted that Moi was a true sportsman, having played football with the Parliamentary side, Bunge FC, in 1960s alongside Cabinet colleagues Tom Mboya, Bruce McKenzie and Robert Ouko, among others.
NOC-K added that 2020 being an Olympic year, they will work hard to pay a fitting tribute to President Moi's contribution to the development of our sport by making sure teams are prepared adequately and perform well at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in July and August.
Athletics Kenya said the two facilities -- Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, and Nyayo National Stadium -- are a testament to the love he had for sports in the country. "Moi found sports to be the greatest unifying factor hence went out of his way to support it.
"The support he gave athletics is immeasurable," said Athletics Kenya, adding that Moi went out of his way to ensure the Kenyan athletics teams were given the requisite support and were comfortable whenever they represented the country in international assignments.
In his memory, Athletics Kenya requested the current government to initiate infrastructure projects and complete the ones that are already under refurbishment "to ensure our budding athletes and sportsmen have facilities to hone their talent."