Nairobi News


I sang for Moi in the now famous Kwekwe video – NMG journalist

As I watched people streaming in to view the body of former president Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi lying in state at parliament buildings on Saturday, February 8, 2020, my conscience could not allow me to let go of the memory of a man who was our president for a record 24 years.

Most Kenyans, who are currently in their 30s and 40s, know the thrill of singing and dancing for the president whenever he was touring.

There has been a video of a schools’ mass choir doing rounds on social media. Tens of school children ‘sing and dance to the tune and beat of Nyayo’. It was in 1997, some several months to the General Election.

Although I cannot remember the exact date, the memory of that visit I cannot forget.

President Moi was coming to Kabaa High School, an academic giant of yesteryears, located in Mbiuni, Mwala, Machakos County, for fundraising.

It is here where notables like the third president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki, trade unionist Tom Mboya, former University of Nairobi Chancellor Dr Joe Wanjui, Late Maurice Cardinal Otunga and retired Catholic Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki studied. I was not yet born, but history has a way of bringing back the past.

I was a pupil at Kabaa Primary School, which is separated from Kabaa High School by a fence.

The late president

On that particular day, over 22 years ago, I was among the children from the different primary schools in Mbiuni who sang for the late president.

If my memory serves me right, it was around 10am. We had been sitting on the ground at the Kabaa Primary school’s playground for some time waiting for our guest to arrive.

The moment we were waiting for had come; I remember hearing some loud rumbling from a distance.

Certainly, the president would touch down any minute from then. Police officers, with the help of teachers, moved us to a safer distance. In minutes, what happened was a spectacle. I remember seeing the helicopter when it was about to touch down some few meters away from where I was standing.

Someone should have warned m. Dust from the dry grounds on a sunny hot day in Ukambani, momentarily made me blind. I remember ‘fighting’ to breathe, quite literally, as a cloud of dust blown by the helicopter -the first time to see it in my life– as it touched down.

I briefly lost memory of where I was, but I remember us running away from the dust, not from the helicopter though.

Entertain the Head of State

And when the dust settled down, we were quickly assembled and arranged according to schools, ready to sing and entertain the Head of State.

Some of the schools which participated in the mass choir, and which I remember, include the neighbouring Kitwamba Primary School, where, I suspect, our soloist was coming from. Others were Mbiuni Primary School, Etikoni Primary School and St Joseph Boarding Primary School.

While holding the miniature Kenyan flags, we had started singing when the president walked to where the mass choir was. I remember looking at his face and feeling thrilled but scared at the same time. I don’t why -may be because he was the president.

I also didn’t know what I was singing. I was young then and my job at that particular moment was to entertain the Head of State.

However, I can never forget the song, which many have branded as the ‘Kwekwe’ song.

The song started off by recognising that Moi was the leader of Kenya, praised him, prayed for him to have a long life, praised Kanu and sent some message to detractors of his governance, branding them ‘unpatriotic’.

After the entertainment, the president was driven to Kabaa High School for the fundraiser. We followed him there, and although I do not remember his speech clearly, one thing has stuck in my mind to date: The President ordered that the school be connected to electricity.

Within a short period after the harambee, there was electricity, not only in Kabaa High School but also in Kabaa Primary School. After the harambee, we were given bread and soda.

I am a Nyayo era pupil and nostalgically remember ‘Maziwa ya Watoto wa Nyayo’. It made me go to school even during the holidays!!!

I will not mourn him, I will celebrate him! His memory lives on…Mzee, Rest in Eternal Peace.

The writer works as a reporter for the Daily Nation.