Thomas Joseph Mboya

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Tom Mboya attended Mang’u High School, where he distinguished himself as a gifted debater. After completing school, he initially trained as a sanitary inspector before dedicating his energies in politics and trade unionism.

Just as the colonial government declared a State of Emergency in 1952, Mboya founded the Kenya Local Government Workers Union. He also registered as a member of the Jomo Kenyatta-led Kenya African Union (KAU) at a when time its leaders had been arrested and detained.

When KAU was banned, Mboya filled the void by uniting five labour unions to form the Kenya Federation of Labour. Using his international connections, especially in the labour movement and the Labour party in Britain, he highlighted the plight of Mau Mau detainees, the secret trials and mass removals in Nairobi and other parts of the country.

When he returned to Kenya from a one-year scholarship in London in 1956 Mboya was horrified to find that the Mau Mau had been brutally quashed and most of its followers killed. He promptly started the People’s Convention Party. In 1958, aged only 28, Mboya was elected chairman of the All Africa People’s Conference.

Mboya was the architect of the African-American Students Foundation in the US, which raised funds for the airlifting of East African students to study in the US.

After Kenya gained independence, Mboya was appointed Minister of Economy and Planning. He is credited with the drafting of Kenya’s first development plan.

Despite his dedication and service to the nation and Kenyatta, Mboya was assassinated on July 5, 1969, dimming one of Kenya’s brightest lights. He was 38.