The trial of Nahashon Njenga for the assassination of Tom Mboya


First, let me thank the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the family of the late Hon. Tom Mboya, for organizing this historic event that seeks to shed some light on the person of the late Tom Mboya, who was assassinated more than 35 years ago. I am greatly honoured to have been invited to this event, to speak on the trial of Nahashon Njenga, who was convicted for the murder of Tom Mboya.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To set the record straight a few pertinent issues need to be pointed out first:

  1. This trial was conducted at the high Court of Kenya, sitting in Nairobi, and records can be found to prove that the case was heard.
  2. Mr. Charles Njonjo was the Attorney General while the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution was Mr. James Karugu.
  3. Mr. Karugu left the service soon after that case. The reasons for this departure are still unknown to us.
  4. I was the Minister for Health until December of 1969, and had met with the late Mr. Mboya that same morning of his assassination on July 5, 1969. I can confidently state that I was one of his closest cabinet colleagues at the time.
  5. The key to the defence by Mr. Nahashon Njenga was that he was sent by a “Big Man” to kill Mr. Mboya and it was the “Big Man” who should have been called to account, rather than Mr. Njenga alone.
  6. This ‘Big Man’ may not have been alone but could represent an organization in Kenya who planned the assassination of Tom Mboya.
  7. there have been arguments advanced that Mr. Mboya may have been a victim of international rivalry just like Pio Gama Pinto before him. However most Kenyans believed then, and still do, that his death had more to do with perceived rivalry for the Kenyatta succession, and was an effort to eliminate Mr. Mboya from contention
  8. It is noteworthy that Mr. Njenga was sentenced to death, despite his defence that a “Big Man” was involved.
  9. The issue of the “Big Man” has never been resolved and it is shocking that no efforts seem to have been made by the Attorney General then, who was in charge of police investigations. This has led to speculation and rumours on the identity of the “Big Man” and questions on whether the sentence was ever carried out as the “price” for not revealing the name of the “Big Man”.


On the questions of political assassinations starting with Pio Gama Pinto, through to Tom Mboya, J. M. Kariuki, Robert Ouko, Bishop Muge and others, I would like to suggest that the Present government form a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in line with the recommendations of the Government’s own Task Force, to look into all unsolved killings of prominent Kenyans.

I would like to challenge the Kenya National Commission on Human rights and civil society actors to develop literature addressing these issues for distribution to the masses, so that there is mass awakening and demands for a TJRC in Kenya, similar to what we have seen in Argentina, Chile and other countries around the world.

There are probably more cases that have linkages to assassinations than we know presently, and we can only find out the whole truth through an open inquiry such as would happen with a TJRC.

My last observation is that there is something wrong with our Kenyan Society that allows people to get away with assassinations so easily and so blatantly. Assassination is a sign of a malady: one, which does not tolerate dissent, and open competition for power. The time to start thinking of a cure for this malady is now – when there is more political space than ever before and Kenyans should think of how best to cure this terrible psychological disease.

The work for the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is set out clearly in this regard. Unless these matters are resolved our vision of developing a truly democratic society that is truly transparent and accountable will never be attained.

I thank the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights for its efforts to jump start these processes against immense and difficult odds and I urge them not to give up, no matter the obstacles placed in their path, to this end. Kenyans are keenly watching, and Kenyans are with you on these and other matters as you speak the truth and are the voice of the voiceless.


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