46 Years Since Mboya was Killed, 46 Things that Made Mboya Stood out.



1.       Tom Mboya was born on 15th August 1930

2.       Tom’s high school days at Mang’u ended when his father could no longer afford to help with the fees.

3.       Tom Mboya took a free, three-year public-health course in Nairobi to qualify as a sanitation inspector with the city government.

4.       Tom Mboya liked to listen to the fiery political speeches of Jomo Kenyatta

5.       Tom Mboya job at the City Council paid $30 a month for work that brought white inspectors $140

6.       One day a white woman walked into the health-office laboratory to have a bottle of milk examined. “Is nobody here?” she asked of Tom, who was alone in the lab. “Madam, something is wrong with your eyes,” replied Mboya. Stomping out, the woman huffed: “I must have my work done by Europeans. This boy is very rude.”

7.       In 1956, while in Europe, Mboya made a speech which attacked detention without trial and the despicable ways in which Africans were treated by the British colonial authorities.

8.       Mboya helped to build the present Cotu (K) headquarters. It is from that building that Mzee Kenyatta set off to address his first public rally on 20 October 1961 at City Stadium after his release from detention.

9.       When K.A.U. was banned in mid-1953, the federation became the ideal nationwide group for organizing African political ambitions. He elbowed his way to the top job, general secretary. He was 23.

10.   Mboya laid the ground for the present National Social Security Fund

11.   Mboya visited Tanzania and helped Hon Rashid Kawawa to form the Tanganyika Federation of Labour; while in Uganda, he worked with others to create the Uganda Trade Union Congress (UTUC)

12.   Mboya was also for a while Africa’s Regional Representative of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. At that level, he was instrumental to the trade union movement throughout the whole of Africa

13.   He hated corruption and was against acquisition of massive individual wealth

14.   His vision is best captured in the Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965, on African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya. This paper visualised Kenya as a nation with a growing economy and citizens enjoying higher and growing per capita income equitably distributed. It saw a nation at peace with itself and its neighbours

15.   Tom Mboya always opted for policies which would confer long-term benefits to the greatest number of Kenyans, and to the nation as a whole.

16.   Tom Mboya, therefore, pushed for free education at tertiary level, both Forms V and VI and at university. This was not only affordable but it also met the immediate manpower needs for the budding economy. Public investment was directed towards the productive sectors. The results were impressive. Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product grew at more than 7 per cent annually in real terms and more than 10 per cent in nominal terms.

17.   Tom Mboya represented Kamukunji Constituency, which then had the biggest slums in Kenya. He was under pressure to demolish the slums and replace them with modern high-rise apartments. This was politically appealing but financially unaffordable. The urban housing problem is first and foremost an income problem. There is no point in building good houses if the poor cannot afford to own, rent, or maintain them. Instead of pushing for unaffordable houses, Tom Mboya opted for a site and service scheme, which provided the poor with serviced plots and encouraged them to build decent houses for themselves.

18.   Tom Mboya was on family planning. Kenya’s population was growing at 3.2 per cent annually in 1960s. It was clear that the economy could not provide a decent standard of living with that rate of population growth. But as a practising Catholic, family planning posed an ethical dilemma to Tom Mboya. He asked the economists in the Ministry to prepare a concept paper on family planning outlining clearly its rationale, and its pros and cons. He pondered over it, was convinced of its merits, and discussed it with Cardinal Maurice Otunga. His intention was not to persuade the Cardinal to accept family planning, but rather for the Cardinal to at least understand the reasons why Tom Mboya would be pushing for family planning. Despite his faith, Tom Mboya was one of the few voices promoting family planning in 1960s.

19.   He was a good listener. He read all the memos, briefs, and policy documents very carefully, asked searching questions, internalised the information, and acted on it.

20.   He took a maximum of three days to react to any memo from any officer. But one had to do his homework.

21.    Tom Mboya did not tolerate mediocrity. If one did not perform, he had no place in Tom Mboya’s team.

22.   Tom Mboya respected separation of civil service from politics. The job of a civil servant was to provide accurate and timely information and professional advice.

23.   Mboya first visited to the United States in 1956, seeking to present a more positive image of Kenyans than the ones promulgated by the British during the Mau Mau war and hoping to build support for Kenyan independence.

24.   In  1959 he addressed a rally in Washington together with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

25.   Gifted speaker with enviable charisma and eloquence. In 1959 he went on charm offensive in America to tell the Kenyan story, and gave around 100 speeches in less than 30 days

26.   He was a self-made man, he worked hard, was generous to the poor

27.   Mboya was committed to the total liberation of Africans in Africa, and Africans in the Diaspora.

28.   Mboya presided over the first All African People’s Conference

29.    Philip Randolph, Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Cora Weiss, Harry Belafonte, Michael Manley, Martin Luther King Jr were some of the great names Mboya worked with

30.   In 1958, Mboya founded the Nairobi People’s Congress Party.

31.   Mboya was instrumental in forming the Kenya African National Union (Kanu)

32.   Mboya was the first  Secretary-General of KANU

33.   In 1958, during the All-Africa People’s Conference convened by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Mboya was elected the Conference Chairman then aged 28.

34.   At a key point in the 1960 presidential campaign, Tom Mboya visited Senator John F. Kennedy. Mboya led a campaign of his own that would eventually bring hundreds of African students to America for higher education. Kennedy’s decision to support the effort became an issue in the election and possibly a factor in his narrow victory.

35.    Mboya would whip African crowds into a frenzy of chants and shouts by the skillful rhythm of his speeches.

36.   Senator John F. Kennedy and Tom Mboya first met in 1959 at a conference on international affairs

37.   Tom Mboya was a true nationalist who reviled ethnic politics and sectarianism.

38.   “My brothers,” he cried, “today is a great day for Kenya. When we left for London, the government was in the hands of the Europeans. Now it is we who can open or close the door

39.   He was assassinated on july 5th 1969

40.   Mboya was assassinated along the then Government Road, now Moi Avenue, outside the Chahhni Pharmacy, in broad daylight.

41.   When was assassinated, he had just returned to Kenya from Addis Ababa, where he had been attending a meeting of the Economic Commission for Africa

42.   He is buried in a mausoleum located on Rusinga Island which was built in 1970.

43.    A Street in Nairobi is named after Tom Mboya

44.   Mboya’s assassination was front page news in The New York Times, The Times of London, Washington Post, Le Monde and the Times of India

45.   The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) lead item in its international news that day was the following: “One of Africa’s youngest and most brilliant politicians, Mr Tom Mboya of Kenya has been assassinated

46.   Mboya never visited Baricho.