Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was on Tuesday joined in Nairobi by a number of dignitaries from across Africa for the funeral service of former president Daniel arap Moi.-
The dignitaries attending the ceremony included Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, among others.
During the ceremony, Kenyans witnessed the second state funeral service of a former president. Kenya’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta, who died while in power in 1978 before Moi took charge, was also given a state burial.
Many turned up for the service in the capital Nairobi, lined up the streets and watched on TV from different parts of the East African nation the elaborate military sendoff for the former president.
The military, comprising of Kenya Navy, Kenya Air force and Kenya Defence Forces, was in charge of the ceremony, since Moi was their commander for the 24 years he was in power.
Everything was done with precision, from the marching to the saluting and a gun salute honor.
Carried on a military hearse with the coffin draped in Kenyan red, green, black and white flag, Moi’s body was first taken to the State House, the official residence of presidents, for the final farewell.
There, the military performed various rites to honor the former head of state. The various heads of states were then allowed to view the body.
From State House, the body of the former president Moi was taken to Nyayo Stadium for the State memorial service attended by thousands of Kenyans and the dignitaries.
The procession snaked through the streets of Nairobi as military played various tunes, blew trumpets and saluted as citizens lining up on the roads cheering.
Upon arrival at Nyayo Stadium, the hearse carrying his body took a lap of honor at the stadium as the crowd bowed and sang.
The former president’s body was once again given military honor after the service as it heads to his Kabarak home in Nakuru County.
President Kenyatta mourned Moi as a statesman who stabilized the country during his 24-year rule.
“He had a love for the country and great commitment to uniting the citizens and the region. Like millions of Kenyans, I am engulfed with the sense of sadness and loss and with a heavy heart, I pray for Moi,” said Kenyatta.
He said Kenya will celebrate Moi for the transformation in the education sector and democracy he fostered, adding that he leaves behind a towering legacy that would transcend many generations.
Kenyatta noted that Moi is part of the leaders who sow the seeds of the African continental free trade area, which the continent is currently implementing.
Uganda’s president Museveni said Kenya remained stable in the region because of the former president Moi.
“He loved East Africa so much and he pushed for the East African Federation. He was also a great reconciliation and a statesman,” said Museveni.
Kiir said his country considered Moi as the hero of the country’s independence and freedom. “We have peace in our country because of him and he will be remembered for his efforts to foster integration,” he said.
He added that South Sudan is the product of his efforts and the country would forever remain grateful to him.
Kagame Fsaid Moi was a great leader who ensured the region remained peaceful, adding Kenya and his country are great friends.
Guelleh mourned Moi as a Pan-Africanist and the founding members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a seven-nation regional bloc that has been mediating conflicts in the East African region.
Zewde said Moi revitalized IGAD and also played a role in brokering peace between South Sudan and Sudan as well as in Somalia. “We shall continue working on his legacy,” she said.
Former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete mourned Moi as a patriot and a visionary leader from whom many across the region learned from him.
His counterpart Benjamin Mkapa, who read Tanzania’s President John Magufuli’s speech, said Moi pushed for the unity of the East African region. Mkapa, the third president of Tanzania, said Moi mentored him into leadership, enabling him to serve Tanzanians well.
Moi, who ruled Kenya for 24 years and retired in 2002, died on Feb. 4 and will be buried on Wednesday at his home, northwest of Nairobi. Enditem