What you need to know:
- The landmark in Moi’s Kabarnet hometown is now turning into a dilapidated monument of shame.
- During better days, visitors from far and wide would take turns to take pictures at the monument.
As you enter Kabarnet, Baringo’s main town, from the Marigat-Kabarnet road, you are ushered in with a landmark monument bearing the iconic ‘Rungu ya Nyayo - peace, love, and unity' inscriptions.
The monument is among several that were constructed in the country to mark 10 years of the late Daniel Arap Moi’s rule.
Visitors to the town often stop at the monument to take pictures.
This is the town that also hosts Baringo Central, the constituency the second President of the Republic of Kenya represented in Parliament as MP for more than two decades.
However, the landmark in Moi’s Kabarnet hometown is now turning into a dilapidated monument of shame.
During better days, water gushed from the centre of the monument. Visitors from far and wide would take turns to take pictures at the monument.
Not anymore. Today, the monument is littered with polythene bags, papers, and empty liquor bottles, having even been turned into a drinking den by idlers.
The shiny marbles that once adorned it have since fallen off, and the once well-maintained flowers and plants have been overgrown with weeds.
The monument's lighting has not been spared either. Electric wires and bulbs have long been carted away by vandals.
When Moi died in February 2020, the monument was rehabilitated by the Baringo County Government in his honour. That was as much as was done. A few months later, the lighting system was vandalized and the marbles also started to fall off.
Former Kenya Postal Corporation director Erick Bett, a one-time Moi ally, has raised concern about the state of the monument.
“The monument was constructed to mark Moi’s 10 years of rule in 1988. Similar monuments were built in Nairobi, Nakuru, Meru and Embu.
"It worrying that these monuments, including this one in Kabarnet, have been neglected and are becoming a national shame,” Mr Bett said.
“This is the hometown of the second President of this republic. I don’t understand why this monument built in his honour has been left in ruins. The people in charge should refurbish because it,” he lamented.
Mr Bett says the national and county government should rehabilitate all the Nyayo monuments countrywide and all others done in honour of former presidents of the republic.
“It is so sad when young people come here and ask what was this for and why it has been left like this. The trees that were planted around it are not there anymore. The marbles are falling off and the lighting system has been left at the mercy of vandals,” Bett said.
“Everything in Baringo County is synonymous with Moi. The schools, the roads, and other institutions he set up during his tenure have been maintained. Why not this monument?” he posed.
Lee Njiru, who served for many years as the head of the presidential press service during Moi’s reign, said when Moi became president in 1978, many though his presidency would be short-lived.
“Those days, people who were against Moi predicted that he would not last long as the president. The construction of the monuments in some of the major towns in the country to mark a decade of Nyayo’s rule proved the naysayers wrong,” said Mr Njiru.
“Jomo Kenyatta used to carry a flywhisk and Moi, on the other hand, used to carry a rungu. That is why it was included in the Nyayo monuments. It is wrong to leave the monuments in ruins because Moi was the president of Kenya for 24 years and remains the country's longest-serving president,” he noted.
“We cannot talk about national heritage and be selective. If we are serious about it, we should avoid a scenario where someone takes over leadership and neglects all the projects started by their predecessor. If you want your legacy to be respected, you must also respect that of others.”
Mr Njiru noted that it is incumbent upon the Baringo County government to renovate and maintain the monument.
“The Kalenjin community and the Baringo leadership should protect Moi's legacy. Since he is long dead, the only gratitude they can give him is to look after these monuments,” said Mr Njiru.