Moi makes comeback as Kenyans yearn for sober leadership

Despite contributing to the mess in Kenya, former President Daniel arap Moi has wormed his way into the public confidence by carving a niche as the only sober politician around.


Former President Daniel arap Moi (right) with his ministers in this 1999 photo. William Ntimama can be seen at the centre pointing something out to Moi.

He is not called the Professor of Politics for nothing: Moi has an amazing ability to revive his political fortunes long after everybody has written him off. During the 2007 elections, it appeared that Moi’s Kalenjin ethnic group ignored his advice and followed his former protege William Ruto into Raila Odinga’s ODM party. Political analysts talked of the end of an era in Kalenjin politics, where youthful personalities led by William Ruto had forcibly snatched the mantle of leadership from the old order.

For sure, Kalenjin politics – and that of the Rift Valley at large – has irredeemably changed. Moi is no longer the only voice but, as the younger politicians are beginning to realize, it would be foolish to dismiss him entirely. Moi has been in politics longer than most of the current leaders have been alive. Indeed, most – if not all – Kalenjin political leaders owe everything they have to Moi.

As Kenya’s second president for 24 years, Moi molded and transformed politicians into his own image. The fact that the same personalities now claim to have rebelled against their Grand Master is laughable. They simply do not know any other political ideology other than Moism. The likes of William Ruto, Isaac Ruto, Franklin Bett, Margaret Kamar, Zakayo Cheruiyot, Hellen Sambili, the late Kipkalya Kones plus many others are Moi stooges.

What is Moism? Moism is a political system characterized by a permanent state of intrigues that involve shifting alliances that never result into anything tangible. The behaviour of Moi’s proteges best illustrates the lasting effects of Moism on the political landscape. Political bigwigs and greenhorns alike are constantly forming alliances with each other but nothing ever comes out of those moves.

You will hear of a Ruto – Uhuru alliance, then an Uhuru – Kalonzo movement, followed by Raila – Karua talks. Within a matter of weeks, these alignments cease to exist and you hear of Kibaki – Uhuru alliance, Ruto – Mudavadi ticket and so forth. None of these alliances succeed in the long-term.

Since the violence of 2008, ex-President Moi has traversed his Rift Valley region preaching peace. The Rift Valley was worst affected, with hundreds killed and thousands of homes destroyed. Entire trading centres were razed to the ground in an orgy of looting, killing and rape. Tit for tat ethnic killings sparked worldwide fears of a Rwanda like scenario forcing the international community to intervene.

However, Moi is largely responsible for ethnic clashes in Kenya and especially in the Rift Valley and Coast provinces.

For thirty years after independence, Kenya’s people had lived peacefully with each other. Migration within the country was so common it was taken for granted. The fertile lands of the Rift Valley attracted settlers from all over Kenya. People from different ethnic groups intermarried and did business with each other. All this came to an end with the return of multi-party politics in 1990.

As Moi had predicted while opposing multi-partyism, every ethnic group supported a candidate from its own party. Naturally, Moi had the full support of the Kalenjin ethnic group while the Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya and Kisii had their other preferences. Political differences among ethnic groups in the Rift Valley turned into violent clashes that worsened in the period before and after the 1992 General Elections.

Moi supporters, led by William Ntimama, the late Kipkalya Kones, late Paul Chepkok and late Francis Lotodo demanded that non-Kalenjin ethnic groups in the Rift Valley either vote for Moi or leave. Militias intimidated non-Kalenjins by burning homes, looting and killing. The Luo, Luhya, Kikuyu, Kisii and Kamba were attacked mercilessly.

Because the violence was largely state-driven, there was little that the victims could do. Security forces were accused of shielding the perpetrators instead of stopping the clashes. In one notorious case, trucks of the Kenya Police forcibly removed families from a conflict zone and took them to their “ancestral homes.” The families were dumped at a football stadium in Kiambu. Eyewitnesses reported seeing government helicopters assisting the raiders. There were reports that the militias had received specialized training in North Korea.

Ethnic clashes in the Rift Valley and Coast raged for much of the time between 1992 and 1999. There is no way that Moi could fail to know what was going on. Moi was a micro-manager of government affairs who used to call Provincial and District Commissioners in the middle of the night for security updates. During the Moi era, cabinet ministers used to rubber stamp Moi’s decisions. Therefore, Moi is responsible for the ethnic clashes of the 1990s

Nobody was ever prosecuted for participating in the Moi era ethnic clashes. This impunity largely contributed to the 2008 post election violence. Many of the people implicated in the Waki Inquiry into Post Election Violence had also been mentioned in previous inquiries into tribal clashes, including the Akiwumi Commission.

Moi corrupted Kenya’s political system through patron-client relationships that ensured that his loyalists got state funds, government contracts and top jobs. As an entire generation of leaders matured under Moi, these corruption networks came to be seen as normal in politics.

Kenyans are famous for short memories. It is less than seven years since Moi left office but most people have forgotten the kind of person he was. These days, Moi gets cheers whenever he attends public gatherings. Moi has become a celebrity speaker at university graduations, weddings, funerals and state functions. As a keen manipulator of human emotions, Moi knows the right things to say to leave the crowd roaring in applause.

Kenya’s current politicians, led by President Mwai Kibaki are to blame for Moi’s growing popularity. The coalition of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga is so inept that it makes the Moi years look like the “good, old days.” Kibaki and Raila can hardly give a coherent speech without tearing into each other.

This is why Moi seems like a much better alternative.


3 Responses

  1. Second sentence: you say `wormed`. Did you mean warmed?

    • I actually meant, “wormed,” as in Moi is slowly crawling his way back into the public limelight.

  2. I agree Moi is the man, but don’t forget he was the man. Kenyans may feel some kind of regret during this time of political sleepers. But let me say this, as a grandson of a former MP. There are quiet leaders in this parliament who are watching and so are we out there. What’s amazing my grandfather used to like Moi, he warned though don’t ever enter politics during Moi and his dirty tenure, the Biwots, Mwangale, Snr Mudavadi, Mulu Mutisya the IDOT !!!, Mulinge (former Army General) and so many more, all puppets with no back bone. Gone are the days of inheriting seats once owned by so and so. Kenya is and will change, leaders are there and once the constitution is finally put in place which todays politicians are fearing of completing, I gurantee these sleepers will awake because they’ll have influence and support from us outside and within Kenya.
    Wormed is a good word, he minisculed his dirty methods in there, still influencing and hiptonizing Kenyans that don’t want to change. Yes, change, still stuck in his tricky, snicky style. C’mon wakenya amukeni, usikubali huyu anaji ita MOI, atakumaliza. Can’t you see what he’s doing he’s preping someone for the 2012 elections, wake up don’t give that guy a chance, wacha ajunge mbuzi na pesa zake.

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