Important lessons we can draw from Moi’s regime

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Former President Moi. Photo/Courtesy

Sandra Ochola  

Former President Moi was a father, friend, colleague and mentor to many and the country has this week, lost one of its astute politicians.

Moi leaves behind a mixed legacy that even years after his death will be interpreted through varied lenses.

There are those to who owe their social and political success to him. His close friends and aides had the opportunity to access power and enjoy the benefits that such an acquaintance can afford. 

They probably remember him for his humour, his generosity and love for the good things that life had to offer.

His political mentees have since matured into robust politicians with majority now admired for dedication to public service.

From his lineage, there are men and women that are keen to keep his legacy alive, socially and politically. 

Youthful mourners on the other hand remember him as that grandfather who brought milk to school and enjoyed watching them sing and dance to their Sunday school rhymes.

He was the first face they saw when their parents switched on the television and the last voice their heard when the portable radios were put to rest at bedtime. He was their ever-present leader. 

There are also those who refuse to remember Moi in good light. They blame him for a myriad of personal and national challenges, some of which have and continue to haunt the country.

Majority are former political detainees who remember him as a brutal leader who didn’t brook dissent of any kind.

Some are the families of people who disappeared without a trace, who died in mysterious circumstances or whose deaths were caused by torture, detention without trial and police brutality. 

They are the ones whose lives were shattered because they were associated with the anti-Moi regime groups.

They were ostracised socially and politically. Their dedication to the cause has consigned generations after them  to poverty, semi-illiteracy and bitterness. 

Those who worked in the media at the time, remember his affront on media freedom. They recall a time when the freedom of speech, conscience and that of association were very expensive. 

Underneath these contradicting memories lie a number of lessons that present and future generations must take in.

As a former teacher himself, President Moi was dedicated to education. He built schools and expanded universities and teacher training colleges. 

He leaves behind a legacy that signifies that education is key for the prosperity of any nation.

In particular, strategic investments in quality and affordable education can change the course of generations. 

It is also during Moi’s time that the country re-introduced multi-partism. His recognition of presidential term limits set the pace for what our constitution demands of the Executive.

It took a long and uncertain period for Kenya to achieve this milestone and it is a positive that we must hold on to especially now as we debate on what the structure of our governance should look like. 

That Moi graciously stepped down from power in 2002 must not be taken lightly. This happened in the background of a continent that leaders held onto power until death. 

His act set the pace for other leaders who have since relinquished power and, at a national level, showed us that it is possible to have peaceful transitions. 

It is these social and democratic ideals that the present and next generations must hold dear. They must reap from the educational foundation built by past icons. They must safeguard the initiatives that have buoyed the country thus far and rededicate themselves to the maxims of love, peace and unity. 

They cannot, however, accomplish these without the guidance of the older generations.

Those who lived with, and during Moi’s, time must take it upon themselves to tell his story and pass down the lessons; both the good and the bad.—The writer is an Advocate of the High Court

More on News