How Gideon built his image during Moi funeral

Friday, February 21st, 2020 05:37 | By
KANU leader Gideon Moi. PHOTO/File
KANU leader Gideon Moi. PHOTO/File

A day is a long time in politics. The passing on of former President Daniel Moi and the following 10 days of mourning gave Kenyans a moment to see his family.

If there was one person on whom the light was going to shine, it was Moi’s youngest son, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

Senator Moi is not the only child of the late retired president. Neither is he the oldest. By African traditions he would have been relegated to the periphery as older children took charge.

But it had been long rumoured that Gideon held a special place in his father’s heart and likely to take the father’s place on the political podium.

The eyes of the country were focused on him from the moment the senator walked out of the Nairobi Hospital to announce that his father had passed on two hours earlier.

How was he going to bear the burden of grief? Essentially a child of privilege, would he know how to mourn? Robbed of his father’s lap on which he had for long found comfort, how would he walk on his own?

Being born to fame comes with its own encumbrance. Few instances illustrate that burden than the recent travails of Prince Harry, who has been running away from his history.

He set out to pave his own path with his wife  Meghan Markle in Canada away from the prying eyes of the British media.

 Standards are usually set high for the progeny of the famous. Their achievements are assumed to be products of their privileged background. Their failures are attributed to lack of steel since they are supposed to have received everything on a silver platter. 

Even as a public figure, Gideon is still slotted in a range of pigeon holes in the minds of many. Some of those poles are positive with footnotes while many are outright negative.

How was he going to mourn his father? But at the end of the 10 days, the Gideon that emerged was very different from the one caricatured in many minds.

He was humorous, courteous, polite almost to a fault. Granted, his Swahili came across as tortured with the “doctari” gaffe, but he sought to correct it the following day.

He seemed to have humbly taken his place as a last born acceding to his elder brother. His role as a father was humanised with his daughter giggling next to him as his wife smiled from the crowd. He could even joke!

He is certainly his father’s son. There is no mistaking the husky voice. When he recalled his father telling him to call lawyer Mutula Kilonzo (now deceased), it was difficult to tell whether he was mimicking the voice of the father or the son was just being himself.

Moi was known to dress well. Gideon was doing even better in his three piece suits with chain strap. He appeared genuinely grateful to the country for sending off his father in style. He said thank you in all the languages people could understand. 

He turned out on the streets to thank those lining up in the sun to bid his father farewell as the body lay in state. That was stunning!

It was thank you, asante, and kongoi every time he stood to speak and all these came across as genuine expressions of gratitude by a son grateful to the nation. When he turned to thank the President and all those who supported the family it was obvious Gideon was speaking from the heart.

In so doing, Gideon displayed a human vulnerability that resonated with the nation. Was this the image that people expected? Was it the image of somebody who had a sense of entitlement rather than one that considered the warm send off a privilege he was grateful for?

Far from the image of a privileged son, the one that emerged was of a gentle soul worthy of trust. Image is everything and nothing projects it better than the media.

— The writer is dean, School of Communications, Daystar University

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