Daniel arap Moi, the lover of Kenyan football

By Waweru Titus: Sunday, February 9th 2020 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
President Daniel arap Moi displaying his football skills before the crucial match between the Bunge Team and Kenya poster and Telecommunication team at Moi High school Kabarak on March 23, 1987. [Standard Sports}

Former President Daniel arap Moi died last week on Tuesday at the Nairobi Hospital.

Moi, a footballer in his youth will be remembered by Kenyans because he was a fan of Kenyan football.

But also, being a self-styled professor of politics, he often surprised soccer fans by arriving at the various stadia in style whenever big matches were played.

He knew how to spice up his entry to fire up fans by asking the organisers to open all the gates and allow free entry.

‘Nyayo’ as he was popularly known was in his element when the ‘Mashemeji’ derby was on schedule.

Football fans would wait for him like children waiting for their father to come to their rescue.

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They would even taunt the ticket sellers telling that “Nyayo akikuja tutaingia saree!” He rarely disappointed and with tickets perceived to be expensive, fans would hold on to their cash, cross their fingers and wait for the Presidential motorcade to emerge from somewhere.

Others would literary monitor the Presidential itinerary, consoling themselves that if he was in Nairobi or its environs, chances were he would ‘okoa mashabiki’ with his attendance.

Youth from Eastlands would be heard mocking gatekeepers loudly in sheng, “Maze leo game ni saree! Orezo atatokea!”

Often, they were disappointed because as head of state his itinerary was unpredictable.

Moi never missed a Harambee Stars home game if he was in the country. [Courtesy]

Moi’s attendance at matches with the Presidential security apparatus in tow was a blessing. Fan misbehaviour was checked and in his typical fashion, Moi would sometimes reward the boys with chai kwa vijana.

Of course, rumour had it that President Moi had a soft spot for K’Ogalo. When the club was formed in 1968, he was about a year and half into being the Vice President of Kenya. He therefore knew the club right from inception.

Is it by coincidence that each time the club had challenges Moi would come to its ‘rescue?’ Many are the times former powerful Internal Security PS Hezekiah Oyugi bailed out the club with funds.

Also, recall when there was a directive that all clubs with tribal sounding names should change them immediately? Gor Mahia was spared the blushes when Moi personally announced that the name ‘Gor Mahia’ was not tribal and therefore the new directive was not applicable to the club.

Those days it was also common for clubs to pay homage to the head of state. Gor Mahia did it several times after winning regional trophies. In 1987, Moi was at Kasarani to hand over the Mandela Cup to the club.

Moi’s love for the beautiful game was unrivalled especially when Kenya was playing. [Courtesy]

Harambee Stars was not left behind and when Kenya hosted the 1987 All Africa Games, Moi was again a common feature at Kasarani, rallying the entire country behind the national team.

What Moi did with the club was reminiscent of what other African heads of state had also done. Mobutu Sese-Seko was known to be close to Vita Club while Iddi Amin Dada’s favourite team was Simba FC whose players were drawn from the Ugandan army.

The scenarios above, confirm that Moi was an avid and dedicated sports fan despite handling governance matters.

The former president will be accorded a State Funeral with all appropriate Civilian and Full Military Honours being rendered and observed.

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