Moi: Servant leader and a peace icon who gave the nation his all

Former President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Today marks the second anniversary since the death of Kenya’s second President Daniel arap Moi.

The family of the late president will be joined by senior government officials and friends at his Kabarak home in Rongai, Nakuru County, in a private ceremony.

Moi died on February 4, 2020, aged 96. His symbol of power was a legendary baton christened ‘Fimbo ya Nyayo’, which he never left behind throughout his reign.

The baton made of ivory and gold was seen as a symbol of power, leadership and national cohesion. 

The fimbo made its mark in history, with patriotic folk songs composed about it by Kariokor Friends Choir who sang a song titled Fimbo ya Nyayo, praising the baton for helping Moi lead the country.

“Kenyans, let’s take care of our culture and let’s unite. Let’s move forward united by Fimbo ya Nyayo. Unity is the greatest weapon against tribalism and terrorism,” sang the choir. The baton was handed over to his son Gideon Moi, who is the Baringo Senator and Kanu chairman.

The news of Moi’s death at the Nairobi Hospital was broken by President Uhuru Kenyatta, sending the country into mourning. His second anniversary comes six months to the General Election and 20 years since he handed over power.

Moi’s family has continued to play a key role in the country’s politics, with some of his children holding positions of leadership.

The former President and his late wife Lena Moi had eight children: Jennifer, the late Jonathan, John Mark, Raymond, Phillip, Doris, Gideon and June. Raymond Moi is the current Rongai MP and will be defending his seat. He plays a critical role in the Moi family matters. 

Besides his senatorial roles, Gideon is the chairman of Kanu. His father led the independence party for many years.

Daniel Arap Moi raises his baton to salute Kenyans during the 34th independence day celebrations in Nairobi, 1997. [Reuters]

Described as a great African statesman, Mr Moi was Kenya’s longest-serving president having ascended to power in 1978 until 2002 when he was succeeded by Mwai Kibaki. Moi served as vice president to the country’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta between 1967 and 1978 when Kenyatta died. During the same period, Moi doubled up as Minister for Home Affairs.

He first joined politics in 1955 when he was elected a member of the Rift Valley Legislative Council and founded Kenya Democratic Union (Kadu) in 1960, a party he folded up in 1964 and joined Kanu.

With a background in education and having been a tutor at Tambach Training College, the colonial government-appointed Moi as Minister for Education in 1961.

In 1963, he elected Baringo North MP, a position he held for a term. He was in 1967 elected Baringo Central MP, a position he held until his retirement from active politics in 2002. The former president is not only remembered in the country but also across the continent.

Nationally, Moi was the political father to many current-day successful politicians, including President Kenyatta whom he had preferred to be his successor in the 2002 elections.

In education, Moi is credited with transforming the education sector by easing access to higher education in record time.