Uhuru’s full speech at Moi memorial service

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020 15:32 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/File

By Uhuru Kenyatta

Members of President Moi Family,

 The Clergy,

Visiting Heads of State and Government,

 Heads of Delegations,

 Distinguished Guests from Home and Abroad,

 Fellow Citizens,

On Tuesday, 4th February, 2020, while on transit abroad, it became my sad duty to announce to the Nation, the passing on of the Second President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Daniel Toroitich arap Moi.

Immediately upon receiving the news, I, like millions of Kenyans, was engulfed with a sense of sadness and loss.  With a heavy heart, I closed my eyes and said a prayer of thanks to our Almighty God, for the life of President Moi.

A prayer for peace and comfort for his Family, Friends, our Nation and our Continent; for he was truly a legendary Son of Kenya and Africa.

On behalf of a Nation in grief, I extend our heartfelt gratitude to the visiting Heads of State and Government, Former Heads of State and Government, Heads of delegations and other distinguished guests, who have joined us today for the National Memorial Service; and also to the many, many more people who sent their messages of condolences.

Over the last three days, we have witnessed an overwhelming expression of public sorrow, with hundreds of thousands of Kenyans lining up along the streets of our Nation’s capital, in unending queues to Parliament, to pay their last respects to the deceased President.

Fellow Kenyans,

The democratic narrative of our long march to nationhood must be told and retold for generations to come.

For today, we stand tall on the strong shoulders of our forefathers.  Mzee Moi’s place among those who dreamt of the modern Kenya is unshakeable.

Yes, even as we celebrate his life, the story MUST BE TOLD.

Fellow Kenyans,

Today, I choose not to mourn the passing on of an icon, but rather to celebrate a Statesman and a giant of history.

President Moi’s life, a full life – chronicled as ninety-six years, made him one of the few Kenyans, whose life journey closely mirrors all the stages of our beloved Nation.

We celebrate the remarkable journey of faith and hope that began in a sleepy village in Kabartonjo.  The story must be told - of a ragged and barefooted orphan boy - knocking on the door of white Missionaries in search of help and enlightenment, at a time when illiteracy had a firm grip on our people and education was considered “foreign” and “unwelcome”.

The Young Daniel Moi, now educated and with a wealth of opportunities available to him, true to the spirit of public service and commitment to helping others achieve their full potential; became a Teacher.  Naturally, the future President of the Republic of Kenya excelled in that role, rising to the rank of Head-Master in short order; whilst also embedding his life-long passion for education.

However, even as he scaled in his career, Daniel Moi understood the injustice of the colonial era that was all around him; and he decided to heed the call of the local community and put himself forward to serve as their representative in the Legislative Council (LEGCO).

There, and, together with other founding Fathers of our Nation, he helped Kenya seize a hard-fought independence from a colonial power, giving birth to the modern independent Nation that we live in today.

The story must be told of an astute politician, known for a seemingly prophetic ability to predict future political trends, many including the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga likened his foresight to a “giraffe”.  The Late Mzee Moi served in various capacities in independent Kenya.  He had the rare honour to serve his motherland as a Member of Parliament, a Cabinet Minister, the Vice-President; and finally as the President of the Republic of Kenya for twenty-four years, four months and eight days.

Fellow Kenyans,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

From his early life, President Moi understood the value of Kenya being bigger than any single person.  When the Nation called for bridging divides and putting the Country above self, he led his Party out of opposition and into Government, thereby ensuring that our nascent Republic was devoid of partisanship and political bickering.

When called to serve, throughout the 1960s and 70s, Mzee Moi served humbly and diligently, helping shape a modern and vibrant Nation.

Following the sudden death of the First President of the Republic of Kenya, the Late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta President Moi stepped into apex leadership in 1978; and immediately brought calm and confidence to a Nation reeling in shock, following the unexpected death of our first Kenyan Head of State.

The story must be told of the man, who on assuming apex office as the Second President of the Republic; Mzee Moi adopted a governance style and mantra that perfectly resonated with the needs and aspirations of his fellow citizens.

When Kenyans spoke in 2002, he chose to abide by their wishes and led his Party into the opposition.  He consistently reminded us that opposition was not an enemy to the nation but rather an alternative government in waiting; and must be loyal to the country, always promoting ideas and strategies to enhance peace, love and unity of our people.

The love for his country and his commitment to uniting Kenyans informed his “Nyayo Philosophy of ‘Peace, Love and Unity’”, which  became the rallying call for our Nation; expressing our desire to be a cohesive Nation of diverse communities, brought together by our shared values and aspirations.

The Nyayo Philosophy was inspired by the recognition that, the Quest to transform the lives of our people is a journey that cannot be undertaken by a single generation or administration.  It is a journey underpinned by the knowledge that Nation building is a continuous endeavour undertaken - brick-by-brick, generation-by-generation and administration-by-administration.

Under President Moi, great strides were made with regard to Education, Women’s Empowerment and transformation of the Civil Service as well as the deepening of our unity, prosperity and place of esteem within the Community of Nations.

We celebrate Mzee Moi for the transformation in the Education sector through the 8-4-4 System of Education, which we have recently re-energized under the Competence Based Curriculum; we remember him for the Nyayo Free Milk Programme, which was the precursor to our current school-feeding programmes; the establishment of countless Girls Schools at a time when the prevailing culture was firmly against education of the girl-child; the active promotion of the place of Women in leadership in politics, business and the civil service, amongst many other progressive initiatives.

Fellow Kenyans,

Many of us often wonder, what is in a colour? When President Moi was called upon to choose a Presidential Standard, he settled for one in - Green.  This singular act inspired his conquest in conservation.  His environmental credentials are indeed  second to none. 

The iconic memories of President Moi, building countless gabions stone-by-stone; driving an aggressive re-afforestation of our Nation by spearheading tree planting campaigns, signaling our Nation’s steadfast and unshakable anti-poaching stance by burning millions of dollars of ivory, these memories imprinted in our hearts will live with us forever.

Fellow Kenyans,

On some of the darkest days in our Country’s history, President Moi’s resolute strength calmed the Nation.  There was perhaps no greater evidence of this than on the 8th of August, 1998; when President Moi stood on the still smoldering ruins of the US Embassy, re-assuring the Nation that we were safe and that the perpetrators of that heinous and cowardly act would be brought to justice.  On that day, he did the unprecedented and drove to the Scene of the attack, in the company of the then luminaries of the opposition parties and they stood together for Kenya.

 President Moi’s vision for Kenya inspires us to continue to work tirelessly to harness that which elevates all of us as a people to greater heights of unity, prosperity and democracy.

Indeed, the Nyayo philosophy of Peace, Love and Unity not only inspires us but finds wings in the process of validation and eventually in the implementation of our Building Bridges Initiative.

We are also building on his monumental achievements across the full spectrum of our social, political, economic and cultural spectrum; ensuring that Mzee Moi will gaze down on us, from his place of deserved rest in Heaven, with affirmation and pride.

The Unity that President Moi pursued transcended boundaries – it was not only unity between Brothers and Sisters within our Borders, but also Unity of the Brothers and Sisters that form our East African Community and the Greater Continent of Africa.

 President Moi, recognized that the Path to Prosperity for individual African States lay in promoting Intra-African Trade, Integration and building bridges between our Communities and Nations that recognize that we have far more in common than we do have as differences.  It is this underlying philosophy that inspired President Moi to team up with among others, President Benjamin Mkapa, who is here with us today, to spearhead the revival of the East African Community.

We owe it to President Moi’s generation of visionary African leaders, who dared to dream and envisioned the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement that creates the largest free trade, which we now have succeeded in concluding and which will take effect on 1st July, 2020.

Fellow Kenyans,

As an avid Peace-Maker, Statesman, Pan-Africanist and Champion for a more United and Just world, Mzee Moi spearheaded a number of initiatives that brought lasting peace within our region and beyond.

The People of Uganda, the Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, can all testify to the peace and diplomacy initiatives brought under the stewardship of Mzee Moi; which have made those Nations immeasurably more peaceful, inclusive and democratic.

Further afield, it was under his Administration that Kenya began our long tradition of serving under United Nations and other Peace-Keeping Missions.

Mzee Moi saw our Defence Forces not merely as an Organ for defending Kenya, but also as a powerful force for good that could contribute to protecting the most vulnerable of humanity from the ravages of civil war and strife.  Mzee Moi brought safety and security to many in areas of conflict, which are now vibrant Nations and prosperous Countries, due in part to the participation of Kenya in bringing light in their darkest times.

At home, Mzee Moi guided our Nation’s journey into the political maturity we enjoy today. It was under his wing that our Nation transitioned back into multi-party democracy; a mode of governance that President Moi, way back in 1991, warned that it could be extremely divisive if not properly managed and customized to the unique demands of our culture, history and aspirations.

When the time came to leave the national stage, Mzee Moi did what was then the unthinkable; he voluntarily and without hesitation, peacefully handed-over the reins of power.  In doing so, not only did the Second President set a first that continues to be the benchmark to this very day, he also elevated his stature to that of a great patriot and statesman.

Kenya was and is undoubtedly better for having had Mzee Daniel Toroitich arap Moi as her son, her servant, her leader and her role model.  We should all learn from his inspiring journey and the chronicles of his life.

Mzee Moi will be laid to rest but he will continue to live on, in each and every one of us.  Indeed, we come, not so much to mourn the passing of a man but to celebrate the life of a Giant of history.

As we pay our last respects and prepare to lay Mzee Moi to a well deserved rest, we hold in our thoughts and prayers, his Family, his Friends and Loved Ones. 

In this solemn moment, let us all take comfort in the fact that President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi leaves behind a towering legacy of good that will transcend the generations.

We are comforted by the memory held so dear by this gallant son of Kenya.  We find comfort that Peace is one of the very foundations of family, community and nationhood here in Kenya. And today let that peace that surpasses all understanding, attend our way.

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