He threw his rungu at me as the public watched - journalists narrate horror of covering Moi

"He personally threatened to strangle me for taking an ugly photo of him"

The late former President Daniel arap Moi

Veteran journalists have narrated the horror and pain they underwent while carrying former President Daniel arap Moi.

The late Mzee Moi ruled the country with iron fist and one of the major victims of his oppressive regime were journalists who have now come out to give their experiences.

Veteran journalist Caleb Atemi, who now works as a biographer, recalled one incident in 1994 when Mzee Moi was campaigning in a parliamentary by-election in Lugari.

"It used to be that most of the rallies Moi addressed were filled by school children and I added that in my story. The next day, I was in Moi's convoy and when he stopped at a market. He asked "wapi mtu wa gazetti ya Nation? (where is the newspaper reporter from Nation) I raised my hand and he shouted "wewe unaandika porojo (you have been writing propaganda)" and he threw his rungu at me but I ducked and it instead hit an assistant minister."

"He grabbed my hand and asked me how many people I could see, 'ni wengi Mzee (they are many) and he corrected me 'ni maelfu!' (they are thousands) he was telling me how I should write the stories. I later learnt that he had ordered my arrest because we used to make friends with the security team by buying them alchol and meat. They gave me a heads up and I was able to escape," Atemi narrated.

Nation's Public Editor, Peter Mwaura, another veteran journalist, also gave his own experience dealing with Moi's intimidation while he served as editor at the same publication.

Mwaura said Moi was obsessed by his public image and would personally call when the Nation carried his images that he considered ugly or where is photo was placed below other Kenyans who he referred to as "nyang'au".

"For me, the most striking complaint came when on February 4, 1982, the Sunday Nation published an picture President Moi thought made him look ugky. I was in the US but he called me upon my return. He told me in very dramatic terms that if I had been around when the picture was published and he would have "strangled" me," Mwaura recalled.


Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: news@pulselive.co.ke