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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Moi day marks end of era
President Moi
President Moi cannot stand for re-election

It's Moi Day in Kenya.

On this day every year, Kenyans take a break from work to remember what their president has done for them since he assumed power exactly 24 years go.

Today┐s Moi Day is particularly significant because it is the last national holiday to be marked with President Moi as leader.

The general elections due by the end of year will bid farewell to Moi┐s rule and usher in a new government.

But the day has been unusually quiet.

Low key day

Instead of his normal address to the nation preceded by festivities, President Moi chose to spend his time on a low key visit to a home for the disabled near Nairobi.

Mwai Kibaki, DP's leader
Kibaki Day appears unlikely at the moment
Kenyans on the other hand either relaxed at home, went to sporting venues or congregated at their local pubs to talk the politics of Moi┐s succession.

The toning down of the day was signalled by President Moi last year, who perhaps embarrassed by all the attention on him and growing expectations of good news for Kenyans directed that the day be marked quietly.

The setting aside of a special day for Moi in the Kenyan calendar was done a few years after he took over from founding President Jomo Kenyatta and a time when Kenyans were falling over themselves to associate everything with the Moi name.

Name and shame

Mombasa Airport in Kenya┐s second city became Moi International Airport.

Uhuru Kenyatta
There is already a Uhuru or Independence Day
The country┐s largest sports centre, Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi turned into Moi Sports Centre and new institutions were named Moi at birth such as Moi University and Moi Referral Hospital, both in Eldoret, western Kenya.

A wave of Moi renaming swept across the country, as dozens and dozens of schools, streets and residential areas took the name of Moi.

At the time, observers linked the Moi naming fever to a desire by everyone to distance themselves from Moi┐s political opponents and reassure the head of state that they were with him by renaming their institutions, Moi.

Nyayo

And as if the Moi name wasn't enough, his philosophy of peace, love and unity then known as Nyayo lent its name to a horde of other public facilities and institutions.

There were Nyayo hospital wards, Nyayo tea zones, Nyayo national stadium and a new Kenyan car was even developed under the name Nyayo. Many of these Nyayo projects have since collapsed.

Critics of Moi day have argued that the country has one too many public holidays such as Kenyatta day and Moi day and that these were bound to increase with each succeeding president.

With President Moi on the verge of retirement and a rush of potential successors waiting eagerly, the question now is whether Moi Day will live after him or if Kenyans will once more have to find room in their crowded calendar for Uhuru Day, Raila Day, Kibaki Day, Saitoti Day, Nyachae Day or Charity Ngilu Day.

Kenyans choose a new president

Key stories

Inauguration day

Moi steps down

Background

INTERACTIVE GUIDE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

10 Oct 02 | Africa
23 Sep 02 | Africa
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09 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Sep 02 | Africa
30 Aug 02 | Africa
06 Aug 02 | Africa
21 Nov 01 | Africa
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