In my landmark book Dark Secrets of the Kenyan presidency I explore the fascinating transformation that took place in Jomo Kenyatta, a teetotaler who hated alcohol and promised church elders in the 1920s never to touch it again to the land-grabbing mafia don president who ordered hits of those who dared to criticize him or his government. Indeed many people who knew Jomo well lost their lives because they could not bring themselves to believe that he was capable of taking anybody’s life.
Daniel arap Moi too metamorphosed after the failed 1982 coup attempt. From a humble hard working president who had released all political detainees to a dictator who ruled with such a iron hand that some started looking at the bloody Kenyatta days with nostalgia.
Now in his sun set years as President Mwai Kibaki seems to be going through his transformation phase which seems mandatory for every Kenyan president. A politician who has spend his long political career avoiding confrontation at all costs is suddenly itching for political “mud fights.”
What really shocked me beyond any words was that after Moi defended himself against the Kibaki remarks that started this whole thing and fired his own salvo, the president issued a statement through the presidential press unit answering him right back. Aiii!!! That is certainly NOT Kibaki.
I have spent the last two days linking up with all my contacts and State house insiders trying to answer the mystery of who the man impersonating Mwai Kibaki really is. To date I have no answers. Indeed I have more questions that I had when I started.
What has caused this transformation that is so sudden?
One possible reason that is repeatedly being floated by some political analysts is the Kibaki legacy. For somebody who has studied the president for so long this is not so easy to accept. If Kibaki was so concerned about his legacy all along, then surely he would have acted differently during the worst political crisis the country has ever failed in December 2007/January 2008. There is plenty he would have done that he did not do.
Could it be that the preassures of the office have finally taken their toll on Mwai Kibaki just as they did to his predecessors? I have watched the president arrive for many public holidays and as he waves to the crowd many times Kenyans have simply stared back and some of them have had open hatred showing on their faces. A sharp contrast to Moi who even in the years when he was least popular always seemed to elicit some sort of positive response from any crowd of Kenyans. That could not have been any fun for Kibaki. It is human nature to want to be popular and maybe the president has seen the perfect opportunity to make a heroic exit from office when he hands over power in two short years.
To be honest folks, I am puzzled.
Incidentally retired president Moi could be smoking something even more potent than what Kibaki is taking. A man who terrorized and crashed all opposition to his rule (real and imagined) is now telling Kenyans in public and with a straight face that he did it all for the good of Kenyans. Can you believe that?
What Kibaki said:
Some old men are moving around saying the constitution is bad It is a shame for such old men. He should stop panicking and join us so that we can pass the constitution
Moi’s long rejoinder:
“There are those who promised a new constitution within 100 days, but they are yet to deliver.”
The former president maintained that all he was interested in was a united Kenya, where all lived in peace. He said to make a good constitution it was important to ensure that the needs of every Kenyan were safeguarded, failure to which the country will be divided
"Some are saying Moi was a dictator, but for me I was interested in peace and love among Kenyans and I strived to ensure that the country was united," he said.
The former president said constitution making was not like everyday politics saying it needed thorough consultations to ensure no one was left out of the process.
Mr Moi said during his tenure as president he ensured that Kenya was united and in peace unlike today where people are divided along tribal lines.
Moi said he will not support a constitution that allows abortion, same sex marriages and disciplined forces to picket.
"How will the country respond to any security threat if the soldiers were picketing?" he posed.
He was referring to Article 26 (4) in the Proposed Constitution that empowers doctors to end a pregnancy only if it endangers the woman's life or she needs emergency treatment.
The document also provides that no Kenyan will be discriminated against on grounds of age, marital status, disability, sex, religion among others and does not refer to same sex marriages.
While the Proposed Constitution acknowledges that every Kenyan has the right to join association, protest, hold demonstrations and picket, it removes the right for the security agencies.