My only vivid memory of President Daniel Moi was in 1994, Joseph Kaguthi (now at Nyumba Kumi) was then Nyanza Provincial Commissioner, and Wilson Ndolo Ayah (former Kisumu Rural MP, then nominated), was KANU National Chairman (?). I was in Class 5, Miwani Estate Primary School. President Moi was to arrive at 10am but by 7am Miwani was on lockdown and awash with spies eavesdropping on every conversation. There was no school that day, never mind our school choir had lost 3 weeks of vigorous practise polishing their vocal chords and dance moves just to entertain the immortal man for 15 minutes. President Moi arrives at minutes past noon and drives straight to Miwani Sugar Company.
Lean towering figure of a man carrying a dead decorated stick on his right hand being shown around the struggling sugar mill for the umpteenth time. When the Big Man was in town, you could even donate your wife to him for a day, without demur. After the pleasantries and smiling to the cameras, he walks across to the Miwani Estate football pitch where the main political rally was to take place. To the left is Wilson Ndolo Ayah, to the right is Joseph Kaguthi. I think it was after Jaramogi had died and Moi did not receive the best of receptions in Bondo. My friends, the kind of opposition bashing I heard that day, for a young man barely 10yrs old, was enough to prepare me for tough days ahead. Moi took no prisoners crowning his speech with the famous “Siasa mbaya, maisha mbaya” line. We clapped (we had no choice, really) and thanked the immortal man for bashing us, and as if that was not enough, Miwani Sugar Company sent him off with a truckload of refined sugar as gift. Needless to say that the company died in 2001.
But before he left, he performed one last act characteristic of his autocratic regime. There was always a tendency for people to chase after Moi’s motorcade, some for the fun of it, others just to try their luck at speaking to the most powerful man South of Sahara. There is this scene still stuck in my mind. This woman runs to the back left of the President’s limousine just when it was snaking it’s way out of the Miwani Sugar Company gate. President Moi was clearly seeing the scene unfold and let his guards harass that woman briefly. People start screaming then Moi lowers his window, appears to quarrel his guards to stop harassing the Mama, proceed to let the mama speak to him in a desperate show of being down-to-earth, reach out to his side pocket and dish out cash to the woman because money can buy back someone’s dignity.
Moi came to Miwani, not once, not twice, and every time he came something similar to that would occur like clockwork. I submit to you President Moi was anything but humble. Moi would call you to State House, serve you tea, help you with cash to get back home, then organise for your torture and detention without trial after picking your brains and failing to buy your loyalty. He discovered that he could play with the minds of Kenyans and ordered schools be closed so that we could parade ourselves on the highway dropping palm leaves and shouting Hossana Hossana in the Highest, blessed are those waving one finger salutes for hours on end on empty stomachs with borrowed school uniforms. You are looking at the crossbreed of Pol Pot and Mobutu Sese Seko.
No, I will not mourn the man. Neither will I celebrate his birthday. And he can live for as long as he wants, I do not care. But one thing for sure, he killed the economy of Luo Nyanza just to punish four generations for the personal beef he had with Jaramogi who tried, in vain, to open his eyes. Keep feasting on the blood of Kenyans. Rest In Peace, Dr. Robert Ouko Taya.
This article first appeared on Oguda.wordpress.com