The apparent lure of adoration of those so-called patriotic songs is one of things that Moi, who ruled for 24 years, until he retired in 2002, will be remembered for in this and future generations.
Soon after the death of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1978, several musicians came forward to mark and ease the transition to new leadership with alluring with songs.
They, indeed, glorified a man who had served as the Vice-President for many years, fighting a group that was determined to ensure Moi did not succeed his larger than life boss, Mzee Kenyatta.
Soon, what naively started as a sign of appreciation became a tool for propaganda.
The rich crop of Moi praise songs was churned out by top choirs, bands and even individual musicians.
One of the first most notable songs to have been released soon after Moi took over leadership was the song ”Mtukufu Rais Moi” by the Nairobi-based Orchestra Les Mangelepa. Though a predominantly made up of Congolese musicians, the band produced a song that was full of patriotic vibe — and which earned good airplay.
Veteran band leader Kabila Kabanze, recalls how the song was loved by many across the country. What many did not know, however, was that the lyrics were written by talented broadcaster, lawyer and media personality George Opiyo — who would rise to become director of Information and Public Communication.
“We had just celebrated to years since the formation of the band and didn’t want to be left behind in honouring the new Kenyan President,” Kabanze said.
The song had some captivating words such as, “Tunakuamini na tunakupenda Baba Moi, wewe ni mtu mtulivu, miaka 12 kama Makamu wa Rais” (We trust and adore you President Moi. We recognised your patience and tolerance having been a Vice-President for 12 years).
Another popular praise song on Moi was “Everybody Fuata Nyayo” by the legendary Kamba musician Kakai Kilonzo and his counterpart, Francis Danger.
The singer, who died in 1987, was revered for his speciality, an acoustic guitar. He was revered for catchy lyrics backed by the Kilimambogo Brothers Band.
The “Everybody Fuata Nyayo” song released in 1979 was appealing to many, having picked up President Moi’s slogan of “Nyayo” (footsteps).
Others patriotic songs by Kakai and Les Kilimambogo were “Kenya Nchi Yangu” and “Beba Kitambulisho”, which according to Danger, were easier to get airtime of KBC radio due to their patriotic messages.
Another group, which also released a song dedicated to Moi was Kenya Blue Stars, who released the song “Baba Moi”.
The Kenya Blue Stars Band, which was popular from the late 1970s to early 1980s, featured Sheila Tett, Daniel Hamisi, Margaret Wamboi, and Cuthbert Bocha. The group was known for some of their hit songs such as “Sina Kisomo”, “Niwaone Wanangu” and “Talaka”.
International praise for the Kenyan leader came from Congolese crooner Tabu Ley and his group, Afrisa International, who released the song, “Nakei Nairobi”.