The news of the demise of the second President of Kenya, Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, broke while I was on air at the radio station. Later that day while heading to town in a friend’s car we started talking about his legacy; I am a typical Nyayo child. On a general scale, my age mates will never forget how efficiently milk was delivered to every school in the country.
As a pupil at Chematich Primary School, I remember the triangle and rectangular packaging; today parents have to send maize flour to school if their children are to have a cup of porridge. This is not to say we all were well-fed back then, but it is just to show that someone cared about the welfare of school-going children. I moved to Muguga Green Primary school and continued to enjoy the milk but there was another Nyayo occurrence to celebrate.
While in class 7, I was picked to join the Mass Choir. This was a group of primary school pupils who would sing at national events. For weeks before the event at either Nyayo Stadium or Uhuru Park, we would be picked from our schools and converge in one place for rehearsals, the ride from school in the Nyayo bus was always enchanting. Hundreds in number we would each receive a pair of full uniform; dress, sweater, socks, and shoes. Oh, we would be smart on that day! After the performance, we would head to Moi Educational Centre for lunch. The mass choir would be changed annually; when my year ended I had fully enjoyed myself!
I doubt Kenya will have another president as giving as Arap Moi was; jobs, land, school buses, businesses — he gave out everything. Did he enjoy being everywhere? I guess he did, there was a Moi ‘something’ all over Kenya. Kenya was Moi and Moi was Kenya. I once stood by the roadside at 9pm to wave at his convoy, adults and children did this a lot.
Going back to generosity, a father while working at his workshop one day had a trailer fall on his leg. That leg remained swollen for months yet his child needed school fees and as the breadwinner, he had nowhere to start. As if God heard his silent prayer, someone in the division was preparing a delegation to visit the President at Kabarak.
Because of his swollen leg, the wife was chosen to represent him. It was the first time this couple was selected. People had heard of State House visits but luck did not fall on everyone. The trip to Kabarak happened, they ate and drunk and on their way back each delegate was given a gift. Just like that, a child’s school fees for two terms were cleared. During Moi’s time, nobody met or visited him and left empty-handed, never mind where the money came from, the criteria used to set up the meetings or how the people were chosen.
Did he have flaws? Oh sure as hell, but don’t we all?
On Monday #RIPMOI was trending as of Wednesday there was a struggling hashtag #GoToHellMoi, with the latter attributed to purported evils instigated by Moi and his honchos. The job of leading a nation must be the toughest in the world. There are people that fail to lead households so I imagine what it takes for one to lead millions of citizens. May the departed rest well.Follow https://twitter.com/@JackieLumbasi