Daniel arap Moi, Kenya’s longest-serving leader, has died aged 95 after he had been hospitalized for about a month.
Moi presided over a one-party state between 1978 and 1991 only allowing multi-party democracy following sustained pressure from within his country and from Western donors.
Announcing his death on Tuesday morning, President Uhuru Kenyatta described Moi as “a great African statesman”.
President Kenyatta has declared a period of national mourning on dates yet to be decided.
During a 24-year reign, Moi initially enjoyed a lot of support from Kenyans having taken over from the independence hero, Jomo Kenyatta.
Speaking to Face2faceAfrica, journalist Nduta Waweru recounted Moi’s rise to power.
“After the death of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1978, he was the vice president so he assumed power for 90 days before the election that also saw him win the 1979 election,” said Gweru.
When a group of Kenyatta loyalists tried to depose Moi in a coup in 1982, the latter turned over the proverbial new leaf.
“He made sure we understood who was in charge. The news bulletins always started with what he did on the day. He was not a tolerant leader,” said historian Lydia Muthuma to Al-Jazeera.
In the coming days, Kenyans will reminisce on how Moi’s legacy has shaped the country since 2002.
“There are mixed reactions because his tenure was complicated. He established the infamous Nyayo and Nyati Houses chambers of torture, he oversaw a number of gross human rights violations such as massacres including the Wagalla and Garissa massacre, graft cases and perpetuated divisive tribal politics.
“On the other hand, he is seen as a person who oversaw a stable country and the fact that he handed over power peacefully in 2002 painted him in a positive light in many people’s eyes,” added Waweru.
Here are reactions from other leaders:
My Statement on the Passing away of President Daniel arap Moi: https://t.co/ky4DK03lrY— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) February 4, 2020
I would like to express my condolences to the family and friends of former Kenyan President H.E. Daniel arap Moi who passed away today. May his soul Rest In Peace.— Abiy Ahmed Ali ?? (@AbiyAhmedAli) February 4, 2020
We offer our deepest condolences to the people of Kenya and to the family and friends of former President Daniel Arap Moi upon his passing. As a friend and partner of Kenya for over 55 years, the United States stands with Kenyans during this time of mourning. pic.twitter.com/SslJb9xGGL— U.S. Embassy Nairobi (@USEmbassyKenya) February 4, 2020
Kwa niaba ya Serikali na Watanzania nakupa pole Mhe.Rais Uhuru Kenyatta na Wakenya wote kwa kuondokewa na Rais Mstaafu Daniel Toroitich arap Moi. Watanzania tutamkumbuka kwa uongozi wake mahiri, jitihada za kuimarisha uhusiano wetu na Kenya na kufufua Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki.— Dr John Magufuli (@MagufuliJP) February 4, 2020
President Daniel Arap Moi dies at 95.— Kifefe Kizza-Besigye (@kizzabesigye1) February 4, 2020
From humble beginnings and with a humble, submissive demeanour, President Moi emerged to become a skilful statesman!
His main legacy is affording Kenya a peaceful transition to another leader.
Can now rest in peace.https://t.co/MRcCuSHrBF
I am saddened to learn of the death of the former President of Kenya, H.E. Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi. On behalf of the British Government, I wish to extend my deepest condolences. My thoughts are with his family and friends, and the people of Kenya #RIPMoi— Jane Marriott (@JaneMarriottFCO) February 4, 2020