By Mukurima Muriuki
Lee Njiru’s interview with Jeff Koinange; some unforgettable moments:
1. President Moi attended UNGA summit in New York in 1981. After the summit, he addressed Kenyans living in New York, alternatively called Kenyans in Diaspora. One of the Kenyans in the audience was Uhuru Kenyatta (who was then a student at Amherst University). According to Lee Njiru, at one-point president Moi summoned Uhuru, held his hand and the two walked to a corner where they talked for a few minutes.
2. President Moi is the only sitting Kenyan president to have visited Los Angeles, where he was hosted by Tom Bradley, the first black mayor of Los Angles. The Los Angeles international airport is named after him, and so is the “Bradley effect” in politics
3. “Nina Ngutume” is what people around the president should remember. Power is “borrowed strength” so do not boast about it.
4. Kenyatta had an affinity for insulting others using a vernacular word that describes a woman’s anatomy. He once called Lee Njiru “gathirikari” on his first day at work.
5. If you are working for the president, always keep the bible close, to guide you, because the devil aka shaitan is always lurking.
6. Moi never hid in a bush as the coup was taking place
7. It is easy to protect a coward because when you tell him “duck,” he ducks. Moi was not a coward
8. Two politicians, one from Kisii and another from Kakamega imagined the 1982 coup would succeed. They wrote a letter to Gen Mulinge- in the assumption that he would be the one taking over power- asking him not to forget them as he formed “the new government.” But, that did not happen as the coup never materialized.
9. The last thing Mzee Kenyatta said to Kenyans was “Harambee!!”
10. “Macho ya Kenya imepotea.” This is how Mzee’s death was communicated to Moi.
11. Mzee Kenyatta had 3 very close friends: Haile Selassie (Ethipia), Josip Tito (Yugoslavia), and Kamuzu Banda (Malawi).
12. Mzee Kenyatta never called Lee Njiru by name. He would call him “kabii ka Runyenjes” (uncircumcised boy from Runyenjes). And Lee would feel very happy. It is the president!
13. Jeremiah Nyaga to Kenyatta: “Na kamundu karia wirire gaturie maru karioba!”
14. Kenyatta’s favorite drink was soup, and favorite music-traditional dances.