Tom Mboya stood for a united, ‘tribeless’ nation

Tom Mboya’s Monument in Nairobi on July 5, 2019. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Leaders yesterday hailed the late Tom Mboya as an icon of post-independence Africa and a symbol of unity.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said Mboya stands among pioneer African statesmen.
In a speech read by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the President said that Mboya’s vision continues to flow through the veins of the nation.
“The measure of life is not in the longevity but how we serve society with the years that we live,” he said. Speaking at the Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi, yesterday, during a memorial service to mark the 50th anniversary since his death, Raila defended the handshake between him and the President.

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“Mboya stood for a nation that was blind to tribe and ethnicity, and that is why he was able to win elections in Nairobi which is made up of different communities,” said Raila.
The ODM leader said this is where he and Uhuru Kenyatta are trying to lead Kenya, where being Kenyan will come first ahead of ethnicity. He stated that Mboya saw Kenyans as Kenyans and not through their ethnic background. But politics was not left behind as Raila took a swipe at Deputy President William Ruto and his ‘hustler’ tag. He recounted how Mboya started off as the son of a sisal cutter who worked honestly to create wealth and that it does not matter where a person starts from but what they stand for.
The ODM leader said: “Mboya lived in a two-roomed house in Ziwani and took a bank loan to build his first house but never referred to himself as a hustler.”
Bishop Alfred Rotich, who presided over the mass, called on the government to work towards true reconciliation, restitution and offering public apologies for mistakes that have been made in the past.
“To date, no major attempt has been made to reconcile the people of Kenya; the National Cohesion and Integration Commission has made few steps but there is still a lot to be done,” said Rotich during his homily.

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He called on Kenyans to look deeply into the root causes of strife and solve them before they become deep-seated.
Hard work
Rotich said: “There is need to name and shame those who bring division among the people even as we work hard towards conflict resolution.”
He underscored the need for forgiveness, healing of wounds, as well justice and peace.
Prof Leah Marangu, one of the beneficiaries of Mboya’s airlift programme which saw Kenyan students go to the US for studies, recalled how she met him by chance in 1965 and helped her travel to join her husband in the US despite not being in the list of those who were to board the plane that day.

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“Mboya helped me without asking what my community was and the stability we enjoy today can be attributed to him,” said Marangu.
Others who spoke were former Attorney General Charles Njonjo.   

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Tom MboyaPresident Uhuru KenyattaRaila Odinga

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