African Leaders Say Kenya’s late President was Peace-loving, Reconciling, a Pan-Africanist

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (Left) with the Late Former President Daniel arap Moi (Right)

At the national Memorial Service of Kenya’s longest serving President who hosted three papal visits, various African leaders who crossed their respective borders to join citizens of the East African country in mourning their former Head of State paid glowing tributes to Daniel arap Moi, expressing their memories of a political leaders described as peace-loving, a statesman, and a Pan Africanist who played a significant role in promoting the good of the African continent.

Former President Moi, who was laid to rest at his home in Kabarak, in the Rift Valley region of Kenya Wednesday, February 12, died at the Nairobi Hospital on the morning of February 4 aged 95, in the presence of members of his family.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni remembered the late Moi as a man who was ready to reconcile with those he had differences with. He particularly recalled a time in the 1980s when President Moi closed the Kenya-Uganda border after “some troublemakers said we were not good people.”

President Museveni recalled meeting Moi and had the matter sorted out amicably.

Museveni who has been President since 1986 said Tuesday, February 11 that he remembers Moi as a patriot who “realized the importance of unity and united different political parties” and a leader who had “a heart for East Africa.”


For South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, the late President is considered the “hero of our (South Sudan) independence and freedom” and an “icon of peace in our region.”

Referencing a meeting convened to negotiate the comprehensive peace agreement in 2005, the President of the world’s youngest nation recalled Moi’s input that contributed to the attainment of his country’s independence.

President Kiir recalled the words of the late Moi saying, “As a senior statesman and son of Africa, (Moi said), leave the people of South Sudan to be free. You develop good relations with them as good and peaceful neighbors.”

South Sudan’s President also narrated how Moi demonstrated love for children and the youngest nation in the world.

“Here in Nairobi, two south Sudanese young sisters were returning from school and unfortunately they were swept away by floods that occurred in the 1990s. The late Moi heard the news, he personally went to pay tribute and condolences to the families of the girls,” said President Salva Kiir at Kenya’s Nyayo Stadium Tuesday, February 11.

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On her part, the President of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zedwe said Kenya’s longest serving President will be remembered for his role in the formation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in Africa.

She also recognized the late President’s role in forging peace between South Sudan and Sudan.

In a message of condolences read on his behalf by Tanzania's former President Benjamin Mkapa, President John Pombe Magufuli described Moi as "a true pan Africanist, great statesman and his pivotal figure in the history of Kenya indeed will always be remembered.”

Magufuli eulogized Moi as a man who was keen to promoting good relations between Kenya and her neighbors.

Tanzania recalls “with esteem the bonds of true fraternity and active solidarity which linked the former President Moi and our country as well as his firm determination to establish solid and exemplary relations between our two countries,” President Magufuli shared.


He also remembers late Moi as one of those who reestablished the regional intergovernmental organization, the East African Community (EAC) and a defender of the “region’s and continent’s interest in the global arena.”

Meanwhile, the Vice President of the federal republic of Nigeria, Yemi Osibanjo, also remembered late Moi as “great African patriot and one of the foremost leaders of the decolonization of Africa” because of “the pioneering work he did especially with respect to regional cooperation.”

“He was very instrumental in resuscitation of EAC (East African Community), the Nigerian leader recalled and added in reference to Moi’s accomplishments, “He was also very instrumental in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and IGAD.”

Osibanjo continued, “These are the precursors of the African free trade continental area arrangements that we are making today and to which almost every African country has subscribed to and it will define the future of trade and relations in Africa.”

Meanwhile, Kenyan leaders also paid glowing and emotional tributes to Moi.

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At the Tuesday Memorial Service, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “The democratic narrative of our long march to nationhood must be told and retold for generations to come. For today, we stand tall on the strong shoulders of our forefathers.  Mzee Moi’s place among those who dreamt of the modern Kenya is unshakeable.”

“Today, I choose not to mourn the passing on of an icon, but rather to celebrate a Statesman and a giant of history,” President Kenyatta said and added, “President Moi’s life, a full life – chronicled as ninety-six years, made him one of the few Kenyans, whose life journey closely mirrors all the stages of our beloved Nation.”

Tracing the humble beginning of the late President, Kenyatta explained, “We celebrate the remarkable journey of faith and hope that began in a sleepy village in Kabartonjo.  The story must be told - of a ragged and barefooted orphan boy - knocking on the door of white Missionaries in search of help and enlightenment, at a time when illiteracy had a firm grip on our people and education was considered “foreign” and “unwelcome”.”

The President of Kenya further revealed about Moi who mentored him politically, “From his early life, President Moi understood the value of Kenya being bigger than any single person.  When the Nation called for bridging divides and putting the Country above self, he led his Party out of opposition and into Government, thereby ensuring that our nascent Republic was devoid of partisanship and political bickering.”

“We are comforted by the memory held so dear by this gallant son of Kenya.  We find comfort that Peace is one of the very foundations of family, community and nationhood here in Kenya. And today let that peace that surpasses all understanding, attend our way,” President Kenyatta concluded.

Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto, mourned the late President as “a pan Africanist, a great statesman, a selfless leader and a father of the nation.”

For Ruto, Moi’s “belief in God inspired many of us and influenced the people we are today.”

The opposition leader in Kenya, Raila Odinga recalled being detained during Moi’s regime saying, “Moi made some mistakes. I, for example, was one of the victims.”

Odinga noted that Moi “was also forgiving”.

“We made our peace, shook hands and worked together to bring this country a new Constitution,” Odinga recalled his past with the late President Moi.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.