Daniel Moi's soft spot for Gor Mahia

Police officers control Harambee stars fans as the y strugle to get the ticket for the Afria cup of Nations Qualifier between Kenyas Harambee stars and Ethiopia at Kasarani stadium on 14/10/18-Beverlyne Musili,Stan

Tribute: Kenya’s second President often bailed out sports and is said to have had soft spot for Gor Mahia

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

As Kenyans line up to pay their last respects to former President Daniel Arap Moi many sports fans who lived through his reign will surely remember in their lifetime precious memories a benevolent leader.

Moi, a footballer in his youth, would take time off from his busy schedule to catch a glimpse of action whenever Harambee Stars was in action. A fixture between AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia would also entice him out of State House. And fans would love it.

Being a self-styled professor of politics, he often surprised soccer fans by arriving at the various stadia in style.

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.

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.

1987 president moi presnts a silver medal to kenyas midfielder wilberforce mulambab after kenya finished second in soccer during the all africa games

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.

The then Kenya's second President Daniel Moi celebrates after Harambee Stars scored against Mozambique at Nyayo Stadium 1991

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.

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 his busy schedule.

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