Noah Chepleon, Reuben Mwambingu and Alvin Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe
Kenyans will today mark Moi Day, a national holiday that had been scrapped after the promulgation of the current Constitution in 2010.
After a seven-year hiatus, the public holiday will likely be a reminder of both the good and the bad of Kenya’s second President Moi’s 24-year rule.
While some are welcoming the return of the holiday as a celebration of Moi’s leadership, others would rather it is confined to the dustbin of history.
“You could be seated at home when a person knocked on your door and demanded contributions towards Moi Day celebrations,” recalls Suleiman Abdallah an elder at Shauri yako area of Kongowea.
“The operation was normally led by Kanu youth wingers who were dreaded because they had the backing of local chiefs,” recalls Abdallah.
Another elder, Eliakim Mkombola says in those days, anything tagged with “order from above” was respected as law.
On the flip side, Moi Days were also a reason for some to celebrate as it would be accompanied by lots of parties.
“Moi was generous and he loved to be remembered by masses… so every Moi Day would be accompanied by parties. However, these parties disappeared,” said Elvis Kimori an elder at Maweni. Moi Day was first celebrated in 1988 to commemorate President Moi’s 10 years in power.
Before retiring in 2002, Moi urged Kenyans to use the public holiday to help the less fortunate in society. Known for his generosity, the former Head of State continued to mark the day after his retirement by making donations and helping charitable causes.
In 2003, the first year of his retirement, Moi marked the day by visiting Arap Moi Children’s Home in Nakuru and donated food and other items.
Moi Day was removed from the list of national holidays following the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.
But in a ruling in November last year, High Court Justice George Odunga reinstated the holiday on grounds that its removal was in contravention of the Public Holidays Act.