Moi’s doctor speaks on their relationship

Written By: Margaret Kalekye

Dr Silverstein

The late President Daniel arap Moi’s personal doctor Dr David Silverstein moved mourners with his fond memories of their warm relationship that spanned 42 years until his death on February 4th.

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Dr Silvestein then aged 33 years met Moi when he was the Vice President in 1977 and from then on developed a doctor-patient relationship with deepening trust, mutual respect and growing friendship.

“I am humbled to speak to you about Moi a patriarch who was my patient. I met Mzee in 1977 when he was a 60-year-old Vice President, and I was a 33-year-old young cardiologist. His secretary Mrs Smith called to ask me if, when and where I could see him.  I told her yes at Kenyatta National Hospital and from then on we began our 42-year relationship”, said his physician.

Silverstein went further to give finer details of his first meeting with the President, how he was awed by Moi’s erect stature and commanding presence only to discover later that he was a humble, happy man.

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Describing Moi as an exemplary patient who followed advise, Dr Silvestein said their first meeting led to subsequent weekly medical checkups at State House until his retirement.

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Amid laughter, he confirmed that Moi loved meat and occasionally took church wine.

“Yes Mzee loved his meat and occasionally enjoyed sharing a small glass of sweet sacramental wine with myself and Charles Njonjo, which we called ‘Dawa ya Wazee’.

Working hours

He was however concerned about the President’s long working hours and efforts to have him slow down were futile.

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Not giving up, Dr Silverstein resorted to using a bible illustration of how Jethro implored Moses not to wear himself out but still, mzee was not convinced and nothing could sway him away from his work ethic.

He said Moi was always concerned of his time when he visited State House to examine him to ensure he did not keep his patients waiting.

“After I was done with the regular health check-up, Mzee would invite me for a cup of tea and would always pray before sipping his tea. Thereafter we would discuss our favourite vast subjects from the latest in medicine, the Old Testament, the state of Israel and politics”, explained the physician.

Their relationship saw the former president participate in the doctor’s major life events including attending his wedding and witnessing the circumcision of his firstborn son according to Jewish traditions.

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Dr Silverstein the head of the Jew community in Kenya travelled widely with the late Moi. Being a staunch, devout Christian, Moi’s favourite destination was Israel, home to the Christian world’s most sacred sites.

Moi’s love for Israel reflected in the decisions he made that benefitted both Kenya and Israel including the funding of various Kenyan projects and programmes.

Even after retirement, their friendship remained strong and the two had many small dinners with friends until Moi’s health started deteriorating.

And by his side all through, Dr Silverstein said even in sickness Mzee was a fighter until he rested aged about 103 years.

“He fought hard, his strong faith and family kept him until he died at about 103 years” he said.


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