Tens of thousands of Kenyans on Tuesday thronged the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi where the state funeral service of Kenya’s second President and iconic leader Mzee Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi was held.
The mourners led by President Uhuru Kenyatta were joined by African Heads of State and Government and delegations from across the world.
President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Omar Hassan Guelleh (Djibouti), Brahim Ghali (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic), Sahle Work-Zewde (Ethiopia) and Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were among the leaders who attended the funeral service.
Others were special representatives of many nations including Namibia, United Kingdom, Qatar as well as foreign envoys based in Nairobi.
The visiting Heads of State and Government were given an opportunity to view the body of Mzee Moi and pay their final respects to the long serving Kenyan leader.
Before arriving at Nyayo National Stadium, the funeral procession went to State House, Nairobi where Mzee’s body was received by President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in a rare military tradition.
President Kenyatta and the other leaders who addressed the mourners said the former President was a peacemaker and a patriotic son of Africa.
“As an avid Peacemaker, Statesman, Pan-Africanist and Champion for a more United and Just world, Mzee Moi spearheaded a number of initiatives that brought lasting peace within our region and beyond,” said President Kenyatta.
“The People of Uganda, the Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, can all testify to the peace and diplomacy initiatives brought under the stewardship of Mzee Moi,” added the President.
President Kenyatta said Mzee Moi brought peace and stability to many nations through the contributions Kenya made through peacekeeping.
“Mzee Moi saw our Defence Forces not merely as an Organ for defending Kenya, but also as a powerful force for good that could contribute to protecting the most vulnerable of humanity from the ravages of civil war and strife,” he said.
The Head of State said the second president of the nation will be remembered for guiding Kenya into political maturity, noting that it was under his rule that Kenya reintroduced multiparty democracy.
President Kenyatta said Mzee Moi sealed his credentials as a true statesman when he oversaw a smooth transition of power in 2002 when his party KANU lost power.
“In doing so, not only did the Second President set a first that continues to be the benchmark to this very day, but he also elevated his stature to that of a great patriot and statesman,” said President Kenyatta.
He said even though Mzee Moi has passed on, his legacy will live in each and every Kenyan.
“Indeed, we come, not so much to mourn the passing of a man but to celebrate the life of a Giant of history,” the President said.
President Museveni said he dealt with Moi from the time his National Resistance Movement came into power in 1986 and has known him, over the years, to be a patriot who truly loved his country and the East African region.
The Ugandan leader recounted how Mzee Moi helped resolve a diplomatic tiff between Kenya and Uganda during his early days in leadership saying Mzee Moi had a forgiving heart and was always ready to reconcile with those with whom he had differences.
President Guelleh said Moi was an outstanding Panafricanist and was the founding father of intergovernmental agency for development (IGAD).
President Kagame also described Moi as a peace-loving leader while former Tanzanian Presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete eulogised Mzee Moi as a larger than life icon.
“Moi has lived his life, we should live his legacy,” said former President Kikwete.
Former President Mkapa read a condolence message from Tanzanian President John Joseph Pombe Magufuli in which the Tanzanian leader recalled former President Moi’s leading role in the revival of the East African Community.
Deputy President Dr William Ruto described Moi as a genuine leader who was a mentor to many leaders.
“Mzee Moi was a Panafricanist, a great statesman, selfless leader and father of the nation,” Dr Ruto said.
The Deputy President said Moi was always genuine in his actions and always meant to do what is best for the country.
“He was always genuine, always meant the best for Kenya. He was a true nationalist and patriot,” the Deputy President said.
Former Prime Raila Odinga, who was accompanied by his brother Oburu Oginga, said Moi was a forgiving person. He said Moi will be remembered for the good things he did.
Mzee Moi’s family described him as a loving father with Rongai MP Raymond Moi reading an eulogy on behalf of his siblings. Baringo Senator Gideon Moi also gave his tribute and described the former President as a loving and dedicated father to him and his siblings.
Mzee Moi will be buried on Wednesday at his Kabarak home in Nakuru County.