Airport Search

Nairobi police were waiting at the airport with a search warrant last week when Kenya’s 28-year-old Tom Mboya got off the plane after a trip to the U.S. to receive an honorary degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C. For 2½ hours, as Mboya stood calmly aside, officials examined everything in his luggage. Reason for the bureaucrats’ interest: on the flight home, Kenya’s most dynamic African leader had stopped off at Tunis to meet with other leaders of the All-African People’s Conference, formed last year in Ghana, which brought together for the first time African leaders from every corner of the continent.

In revolution-wary Kenya, as elsewhere in Africa, shivers run down the spines of white men when blacks get together to plan the continent’s fate. For possessing what the Kenya government calls “seditious” literature, one of Mboya’s chief aides in Nairobi, Elijah Omolo Agar, was recently jailed. Mboya himself says: “They have searched my home many times, but I do not keep embarrassing things there.” That does not keep the Kenya authorities from trying: from his suitcase at the airport, police seized several papers, took them of for further study.

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