Whenever he releases statements, his are always terse, pulling no punches but plowing straight in. He calls the balls and strikes as he sees them without any regard to who the victim is. But today, he is easy. Smiling wryly and looking deceptively shy.
From time to time, Noordin Haji, the quintessential Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), would direct his eyes to his mobile phone and when he would lift them up to look at me straight in the eye, I would feel the eyes piercing right into my bone marrow albeit softly. Haji’s recollections of his time in Moi High School Kabarak 31 years ago are punctuated with laughter of distant boyhood memories that seem to lift o the heavy burden of slaying the dragon of corruption the country has heaped on his shoulders.
“We have to do what is right. What is just and redeem the glory of this country. This country must rise again,” he tells me while looking at the heap of prosecution fi les on his table. Haji is living true to his alma mater’s motto ‘On Earth We Rise’. “No other experience prepared me to face the world like the culture of Moi High School-Kabarak. We have to give credit to the former President for that vision,” he says.
He says the Kabarak experience is one of its own as it moulded a well-rounded personality and inculcated values rare to get elsewhere. To him, if it were possible, every Kenyan should get the Kabarak experience which he describes as an “eye-opener”. Haji was referring to the tranquility in the the school compound, the well-manicured lawns, pruned trees lined up methodically, the serene environment that offers peace of mind and the imposing architectural designs that leave a lifetime impression on visitors.
“Moi High School-Kabarak made me what I am. The culture of discipline, equality and respect,” says Haji. He says former President Moi’s generosity was one thing that impressed him. The President would always visit the school whenever he was at his Kabarak home. “We all looked forward to his ‘iko mukate’ comment and we would go wild clapping,” recalled Haji.
“We would also be gifted with peanuts and meat whenever he visited,” he recalled with a broad smile. He said it is at Kabarak that he came to appreciate equality and diversity as students were drawn from all over the country without regard to their social and fi nancial standing in the society.
“At Moi High School, we were all equal. It did not matter your background whether you were a child from rich background or poor, we stayed together in dormitories and wore the same uniform,” he said. Haji is among the star-studded array of alumni of the school started by the former President. The DPP who was a student there between 1988 and 1989 recalls his time in the institution, saying he had the best time in the pristine environment.
“The school had the best everything. From the conducive environment, language lab, computer labs which I believe up to now, no institution matches,” he said from the 19th fl oor of his office at NSSF building. Haji’s office is a true picture of a man who likes order, and discipline. Files are arranged neatly on his desk while some are in a cabinet behind him. Haji, says Kabarak inculcated in him the virtue of doing what is right and the thirst to pursue justice for all without favour. This could explain why the DPP has breathed a new life into the office of public prosecutions.
“It is in Kabarak that I interacted with students from different backgrounds as the former president ensured that students came from all over the country whether from rich or poor background,” he said. He says his love for playing that affected his math grade made his father, Yusuf Haji, then a senior government official to visit the school where he had to be disciplined to get him back to performance track. “I was once disciplined because of my love for play which affected my grades and my father was not amused. He came to school and clearly I had to get a few of the six best,” he said. He added that his best subjects were history and chemistry.
“To date, I love history. It awed me and I always wanted to know more about everything,” he says. Asked what he missed most about Kabarak, Haji says it is the millet porridge. “I loved Kabarak’s wimbi porridge and I miss it a lot. Moi would explain to us its nutritional value,” he said, laughing. Asked to describe Moi High School Kabarak in one word, Haji responds: “You cannot describe Moi High School-Kabarak in one word.
It is in the many array of star-studded students it has produced,” he says as he slouches on the couch. “To anyone who has gone to Kabarak, it is my hope that you keep the good name of the school and also the good name of Mzee Moi,” he says as his parting shot. As I left his o ce, I could not help but to recognise the fact that Haji, a towering man who walks with calculated steps is a living testimony of Moi High School’s motto ‘On Earth We Rise’.
Here is a man who in his relaxed moments is self-effacing, gracious and polite but the task of slaying the dragon of corruption that threatens to cripple country’s economy thrust on him is so enormous that he has to walk through pitfalls to rise above the tallest of the dragons and slay it. “I will (slay the dragons). Moi High School-Kabarak equipped me for such enormous tasks,” he assures.