Courteous of The Daily Nation Online By BRIAN OKINDA and GEORGE ODIWUOR
- A memorial service was held Friday at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi.
How do you remember trade unionist Tom Joseph Mboya?
July 5 this year marks 50 years since the man who became a minister in Jomo Kenyatta’s administration was assassinated.
A memorial service was held Friday at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi.
Dignitaries who joined the family to commemorate him include former prime minister Raila Odinga, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, former attorney-general Charles Njonjo, and senators Amos Wako and James Orengo.
Other prominent persons are Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary-general Wilson Sossion and ex-member of Parliament for Rongo Dalmas Otieno.
Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua and ODM party secretary-general Edwin Sifuna were also among a host of leaders in attendance.
In his sermon at the service, Bishop Alfred Kipkoech arap Rotich stressed the need for reconciliation in the country.
He said there should be a ministry of reconciliation even at the grassroots levels.
He also called for the naming and shaming of the leaders who sow seeds of hatred among Kenyans through the use of propaganda.
“They have exploited Kenyans, sowing seeds of hate in them. But Kenya is a country that is well capable of reconciling its people.”
For those below the age of 50 you have probably heard of his achievements and the struggles he underwent to secure a better future for Kenya.
If you are in Nairobi, you have perhaps seen the Mboya statue near the Kenya National Archives in the central business district.
For residents of Homa Bay County, Mboya’s home region, you may have been to his gravesite on Rusinga Island.
The Tom Mboya mausoleum in Kamasengre village is a symbolic structure that attracts thousands of tourists every year. The inscription on his grave reads “Go and fight like this man who fought for mankind’s sake.”
The bullet shaped structure was built in his commemoration after he was assassinated exactly 50 years ago, on July 5, 1969, on the streets on Nairobi.
Mboya is credit with the growth of Homa Bay town.
He is said to have used his influence during the colonial era and as a minister to build his hometown.
71-year-old Clement Oyaa says the building that now hosts the county commissioner’s office was constructed between 1964 and 1967.
The one-storey building has hosted several government offices since it was constructed. Other buildings Mboya is credit with include the Homa Bay police station, primary and secondary schools, and hospital, which is now the county referral.
Most of these old buildings are, however, in dilapidated conditions.
A memorial service is also being held in his home on Rusinga Island. However, save for family, only few people attend the function.
Mr Paul Ndiege, Mboya’s brother says most Kenyans have not embraced and appreciated the achievements of the former cabinet secretary.
“At the age of 39, the trade unionist did a lot to be celebrated. However, the government and Kenyans in general have not embraced his heroism acts,” said Mr Ndiege.
He argued that the deceased has not been given much recognition despite his achievements in political struggle and infrastructural growth especially in South Nyanza.
“There is lack of honour to my brother. There are people who came after him and did little but have been given more priority in remembrance,” he said.