Raila Odinga and his wife Ida have mourned the late President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, saying they celebrate the former Head of State’s long life of service to the nation.
Moi died on Tuesday morning at Nairobi Hospital, aged 95.
Raila, who had admittedly had a complicated relationship with Daniel Moi, recalled that he first met the ‘professor of politics’ in 1958 as a teen.
“I first met President Moi in 1958 when my father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga invited the first African elected members of the Legislative Council to our home in Bondo. I was a teenager and Moi, who represented the Rift Valley, was in the company of Masinde Muliro, Lawrence Oguda, Tom Mboya, Bernard Mate, James Muimi and Ronald Ngala,” Raila recalled.
“From that initial encounter, our paths and careers were later to cross in various capacities and roles,” recalled Raila, who became one of Moi’s political rivals.
Raila’s father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, would later become Kenya’s first Vice President – a position he resigned from in 1966 when clashed with Jomo Kenyatta over governance an international allegiances.
Raila and the Nyayo Era
Raila Odinga went to university in Germany, returning to Kenya in 1970 as a lecturer at the University of Nairobi. His political activism would gather steam in the ’70s propelling the youthful engineer to the center of Kenya’s political reform movements in the ’80s.
Reminiscing on Moi’s ascent to presidency following the death of Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, in 1978, Raila said the late president strived for unity.
“Moi inherited a fairly polarised political landscape when he became President in 1978. He strived to hold the country together as he struggled to unite the people, often with mixed results,” read his statement to newsrooms.
In the aftermath of 1982 attempted coup, Raila Odinga was accused of plotting against Moi’s rule. Resultantly, Raila was imprisoned without trail for six years.
Often credited for being the driving force behind Kenya’s ‘second liberation’, Raila acknowledged he was critical of Moi’s regime and single-party state policy – a position that placed him on a collision path with the government of the day.
“The decision by his administration to make the country a single party state became a major point of disagreement in our politics that caused the clamour for the repeal of Section 2 (a). To his credit, President Moi gave in to the clamour for change and allowed the country to return to multiparty politics,” Raila said.
Under the National Development Party (NDP) banner in 1997, Raila unsuccessfully challenged Daniel Moi for presidency. He would in 2001 join Moi’s government as a Energy Minister, allowing his party to be absorbed Kanu.
“Moi and I reconciled after the political differences of the 1980s and early 90s and we were able to work together to bring more reforms to the country” Raila said.
Narc in; Kanu out
While the public show of unity drove a section of Kenyans to believe that Raila was Moi’s chosen successor in the 2002 polls, the Professor of Politics anointed Uhuru Kenyatta as the next Kanu flag bearer.
Raila Odinga then partnered with Charity Ngilu, Michael Kijana Wamalwa and Mwai Kibaki for presidency to form National Rainbow Coalition (NARC).
They successfully challenged Moi, taking over power in 2002.
In his later years, Moi was seen to enjoy a cordial relationship with Raila.
“President Moi carried and conducted himself with complete dignity befitting an elder statesman. I am grateful for the time I spent with him.”