Kenya’s former president, Daniel Arap Moi, has died at 95 years old, according to Uhuru Kenyatta, the current president of the East African nation. Moi died in a hospital Tuesday morning.
Kenyatta said in a statement, “Our nation and our continent were immensely blessed by the dedication and service of the late [Mr Moi]. As a leading figure in the struggle for Kenya’s independence, and an ardent Pan-Africanist, the late Mzee Moi’s legacy undoubtedly positions him as one of Africa’s greatest, a man who made his nation and his continent immeasurably better.”
He also added that Mr. Moi “lives on in the hearts of millions of Kenyans who benefited from his servant-leadership."
Moi, a former school teacher, became president in 1978 after the death of the first president Jomo Kenyatta, whom he had served as vice president. He would leave office in 2002, after 24 years. He was a controversial leader throughout his time in office.
Moi’s ubiquitous ivory walking stick became a symbol of his one-man rule. After taking office, he was accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian and consolidated his power base. In 1982, his government passed a constitutional amendment that essentially legitimized one-party rule, and after a failed coup attempt against him that same year, he sought to retaliate toward his critics, including Amnesty International. Many Intellectuals, lawyers and some military officers fled into exile.
By the early 1990s however, Moi began to succumb to international pressure and loosened his grip by allowing multi-party elections. After agreeing to step down ahead of elections in 2002, he delivered a speech, reiterating a warning against ethnic conflict, which he described as “a cancer that has destroyed many nations in Africa."
Supporters of Moi credit him for his influence on other African nations. He helped found the East African Community, which created a trading block with nations like Tanzania and Uganda and rallied to the cause of anti-aparteid in southern Africa by sending Kenyan soldiers into Zimbabwe as peacekeepers during a 1979 ceasefire.
(Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images)