Colourful State House send-off for Mzee Moi

Former President Daniel arap Moi’s body was taken to State House, which had been the president’s official residence for the 24 years that he had been in power.

On hand to receive the body, which was transported from Lee Funeral Home in a sleek hearse at 8.35am, were President Uhuru Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe.

The first family was joined by Moi’s relatives in a service to pay their last respects, which lasted nearly 40 minutes.

Military pallbearers then wheeled the casket out through the main entrance with its imposing giant pillars.

The casket that was draped in a flag was placed on a gun carriage for an elaborate military ceremony to bade farewell to the retired Commander-in-Chief.

After the sounding of the Last Post, the national anthem was played. At 9.15am, the funeral procession snaked out of State House through Gate A, which is reserved for the president and top VIPs.

Military band march along Uhuru Highway, Bunyala Roundabout, in Nairobi as they escort the body of former President Daniel Moi to Nyayo Stadium. [David Njaaga,Standard]

Military outriders

Seven military outriders escorted the casket, which passed through a guard of honour mounted by members of the elite General Service Unit who guard State House.

A military brass band led the parade followed by soldiers from three detachments of the Kenya Defence Forces, then the gun carriage carrying the casket and President Kenyatta’s motorcade.

At 9.30am, the cortege was en-route to Nyayo Stadium through State House Avenue, Processional Way, Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway.

Major roads including Aerodrome Road, Processional Way, Kenyatta Avenue, Likoni Road, Bunyala Road, Valley Road and University Way roundabout had been closed. 

About 1,000 police officers in ceremonial uniforms paraded from State House to Nyayo Stadium and saluted as the cortege passed.

A group of 36 soldiers of the ranks of major and colonel marched alongside the gun carriage during the nearly three-kilometre journey.

At the Haile Selassie roundabout, President Kenyatta’s motorcade drove past the gun carriage to arrive at the stadium shortly before 10am.

Time was of the essence and with military precision, the procession drove into Nyayo Stadium for the interdenominational State funeral service.

The stadium was packed as Kenyans eagerly waited for the memorial service in honour of Moi. As per the programme, select choirs had been keeping the crowd entertained from 8.30am. 

The body arrived at the stadium at about 10.20 am with the military staging a parade before the service began. Some of the dignitaries present including presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia) and Omar Gulleh (Djibout) viewed the body.

Military honours

The former president, who will be interred at his Kabarak Home in Nakuru today will be accorded full military ceremonial honours that include conveyance of the body under escort in a gun carriage accompanied by military music honours and a 19-gun salute.

Kenyans from all walks started trooping to the stadium from 4am. Musa Njengo From Vihiga County was among the people who arrived at the venue as early as 4am braving the early morning cold.

“I started my journey at 7pm on Monday,’’ said Musa. He added. “Even after getting here that early I still found some people in the stadium”.

What motivated him to grace the occasion was the fond memories of how his children enjoyed Nyayo milk.

His trip to the city was facilitated by the County commissioner through the help of the area chief.

Rebbeca Keter from Bomet county narrated how she rose early at 4am arriving in Nairobi at 8am.

“Am happy to attend this event on Mzee final send off, Moi helped us to buy land and helped when we went to Kabarak to ask for school fees,’’ said Rebecca.

Rebecca who was in the company of other women said their trip to the city to befit the late president a deserving send off was something she will not forget .

“The County Commissioner funded our trip to the city , as a woman leader I mobilised my fellow women to come and pay our respects, we are very happy .’’ She said.

The service started at 10.45am and ended at noon. It was followed by tributes and the body left the stadium at 2.15pm for Lee Funeral Home.