How Moi marked holiday quietly with son

Friday, October 11th, 2019 09:00 |
Late retired President Moi. Photo/Courtesy

By Noah Cheploen and Alvin Mwangi

Retired President Moi yesterday marked Moi Day quietly with his son Gideon at his Kabarak home in Nakuru county as Kenyans enjoyed a day off from work, thanks to a court ruling two years ago. 

“Mzee Moi is at his Kabarak home with his son, Gideon. He is well and happy. He has thanked Kenyans for the overwhelming messages of goodwill,” an aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

During Moi’s tenure, the day was one of the biggest activities in the country’s calendar and was marked with pomp and colour. Moi would use the day to make huge political declarations. 

However, after he retired, Moi Day was quickly relegated to the periphery. 

Although Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i gazetted it as a national holiday—in line with the 2017 court decision—there were no major public activities held yesterday.

In his judgement, Justice George Odunga said by removing Moi Day from the calendar, the government was in contravention of the Public Holidays Act. Moi Day was struck out of the national days when Kenyans adopted the new Constitution in 2010.

Following the court decision, Moi, who retired in 2002, urged Kenyans to spend the day with the less fortunate in society, pray and reflect. “My everlasting wish is to see all Kenyans live in peace and harmony as children of one God,” he said.

Illchamus Traditional Dancers perform during Moi Day-cum-cultural celebration at the Equator Point in Mogotio. The event will be held annually on Moi Day. Photo/PD/Noah Cheploen

Honour promises

But while Moi marked the day quietly at his home, some Kenyans said they were not celebrating the day due to the tough economic times following a wave of retrenchment affecting many companies.  

At least 2,000 workers have lost their jobs since July and many more companies have announced intentions of getting rid of hundreds of workers before the end of the year.

Robert Mwangi, 22, a graduate of the University of Nairobi faulted the government, saying it should honour the promises made to Kenyans of providing a million jobs.

“I have a degree but I have no reason to smile today. I don’t see anything new, they should first give us jobs. We are not tired so I don’t see anything that should make me have a holiday today,” said Mwangi.

Other Kenyans spent the day reflecting on the Moi era, terming him as a leader who was development oriented.

“Moi was the darling of all people and we shall forever miss him in his leadership,” said Gideon Kitheka.

Lawyer Donald Kipkorir  said he chose to remember Moi for positive things he did during his tenure.

“Some may want to remember the negatives but I choose to remember his positives knowing we are all humans and we have foibles, unlike many of his age, Moi handed over power,” tweeted Kipkorir.

Donate food

In 2003 and the few years that followed, Moi marked the holiday by visiting Arap Moi Children’s Home in Nakuru where he donated food and non-foodstuff. 

He also visited St Nicholas Ngala Special School and Street Children Association Network, in Nakuru town. 

Yesterday, Kenyans shared images, clips and songs— including images of the famed ‘maziwa ya Nyayo’— to remember the Moi era in social media platforms. 

Meanwhile, residents of Baringo marked Moi Day in style following the launch of the inaugural cultural festival at the Equator Information Centre, Mogotio. 

The event dubbed Equator Zero Degrees Cultural Festival will be held annually on Moi Day to boost national harmony and cohesion.

Traditional dance groups performed during the event.

Kenya Film Classification Board chair Jackson Kosgei, Mogotio MP Daniel Tuitoek and Baringo Woman Rep Gladwell Cheruiyot were in attendance.

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