Moi: Nyayo stadium that he built, venue for his mass farewell


National Youth Service members on February 7, 2020 spruce up Nyayo National Stadium for the memorial service of former president Daniel Moi. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUPDAVID KWALIMWA
Via Daily Nation 
By DAVID KWALIMWA

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Befittingly perhaps, former president Daniel arap Moi's funeral service will Tuesday morning be held at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.

This is the facility Mzee Moi pulled all stops to construct way back in 1983.

"Mzee did not borrow a single penny to construct this stadium. This speaks volumes on his commitment to improving the standards of sports in Kenya," notes politician Okong'o Omogeni.

It is only after the 30,000-seater sports facility was complete that Kenya could now boast of having a modern sports facility at that time capable of hosting international events.

Besides the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, which was built by the Chinese during Moi's tenure a couple of years later, no other president of Kenya has built a modern stadium.

When the curtains came down on the 1987 All Africa Games, the Nyayo Stadium, designed by prominent architect and politician George Nyanja, remained at the centre of local and international sports events including Fifa World Cup qualifiers, Cecafa tournaments, the Kenyan Premier League, international athletics meets and rugby

Fifa approved

The facility consists of a Fifa approved standard size football pitch which has also hosted large gatherings, including concerts, national celebrations, meetings, and religious crusades.

This venue was known to be so dear to Mzee Moi as it is at the main dias that he stood many a time during his 24-year rule and presided over national celebrations.

In his last event of the kind, Moi made the famous statement that he had forgiven anyone that might have wronged him. He also asked for forgiveness from anyone he might have wronged.

The facility also has an Olympic-size swimming pool, plus an indoor and outdoor arena capable of hosting basketball, handball, volleyball, boxing, badminton and martial arts among other games.

Two VIP lounges, a boardroom, and an Internet-enabled media centre are also located within the stadium.

The stadium was temporarily closed three years ago for renovations so as to be ready for the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (Chan) that Kenya had won the rights to host.

Didn’t happen

The renovation works were supposed to be complete in 90 days but that didn't happen.

Three years later, the stadium remains closed with the renovations far from over.

On Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta personally drove to the venue to inspect the refurbishment work. And Kenyans were far from impressed.

"Nyayo stadium, which the government blatantly refused to repair to be usable for sports, but now it has money to give it a facelift for (a) funeral service, you can see how we are regarded as a country. There is money for the rich, the poor can wait," James Mugabi observed on Facebook.

"Imagine we failed to host Chan because Nyayo Stadium wasn't ready, but the President drives to Nyayo personally to ensure the stadium is ready for a funeral?" another Facebook post read.

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