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Kenya: Lucas Mboya: Who killed my father?

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2007

Whoever killed Mboya made one mistake. They should have killed me too because If I can expose them I will, be they dead or alive. And I do believe that the real architect of Mboyas murder is alive and well.

My name is Lucas Mboya. I am 39 years old. My father, the late, great, Thomas Joseph Mboya, died violently at 39 years old. My late brother Peter Mboya, died violently at the age of 39 years old. (10 months apart). If there is some jinx that prevents a Mboya man from passing 40 years old. Let me take this opportunity to get a load off my chest.

When my late father died I was I had been on Gods good earth for 21 months.
As I grew up I had to grope my way around trying to find out who my father was and why he had been killed. Answers I got ranged from he was a criminal and CIA agent, to he was next in line for the Presidency, which I do now believe was the case.
What I would like to do now is explore the real reason why Tom Mboya was killed and by whom. I will for legal reasons make many references to a book, Tom Mboya, The Man Kenya Wanted to Forget, David Goldsworthy.

My goal is to first get Kenyans to understand that I believe my fathers death was the point in Kenyas history that the two most influential tribes parted, both publicly and permanently and this acrimony has been the root cause of most of the political problems Kenya has had to date. Additionally, I do believe that without a genuine Truth and Reconciliation Commission in place Kenyans will never breach the tribalism gap that has been entrenched in our psyche.

Its no secret that Kenya politics is not about policies, but about tribes and communities. As a result rampant corruption abounds. It is simply not possible to deal with corruption without dealing first with tribalism. Tribalism feeds corruption.

Lets also understand that appreciation of ones tribe and customs is right and important. What is wrong is assuming that because ones tribe is different, that therefore ones tribe or community is better, or has rights that others should not enjoy. The saying from animal farm, all animals are equal but some are more equal than others comes to mind.

I also intend to make a formal request to the Kenya Government and the Chief Justice in particular to give me and make public the transcripts of the trial of one, Nahashon Njenga who was accused and sentenced to death for the murder of Tom Mboya. This I believe is my God given right. I am Mboyas his son and I want to know what happened and if I feel justice was not done, then I have the right to pursue whatever justice I can get in any manner that I can get it under Kenyan and International Law.

Whoever killed Mboya made one mistake. They should have killed me too because If I can expose them I will, be they dead or alive. And I do believe that the real architect of Mboyas murder is alive and well. By the time you finish reading this piece I am sure that not only will you understand who I am talking about but you will be able to join the dots and see why I believe this man (and others) were responsible.

In Goldworthys book, his chapter on The Politics of Survival He says:
At any rate, by late 1967 the new factional lines were clearly visible: so much so that talk of Kanu A and Kanu B was becoming quite common. On one side Kanu A was the formidable coalition which we have referred to so far as the inner group, but which was variously know as the Kikuyu group, the Gatundu group, the Court: Mungai, Njonjo and Koinange, all very close to the President and with them Moi (vice president since early1967 in succession to Murumbi) and somewhat less powerful Kukuyu such as Gichuru, Kiano and Kibaki (though on issues of economic policy Kibaki and others usually stood with Mboya).On the other side was Mboya. He too had his multi tribal supporting group which at ministerial level included Ngala (Giriama), Ayodo (Luo), Sagini (Kisii), Otiende (luyha), Nyagah (Embu) and Eliud Mwendwa (Kamba). In general he had the backing of the Kanu Luo, the anti-Ngei Kamba, the pro Ngala Coastals, and MPs from the North East. All told there were perhaps 60 of the 158 Members. A third group, including at ministerial level Argwings Kodhek and Angaine was generally seen as neutral.

The Gatundu groups jealousy and fear of Mboya emerged with extreme clarity at a private meeting of the full Kanu parliamentary group in March 1968, the first time the issue was directly joined in such a large gathering and in the presence of Kenyatta himself. Subsequent leaked accounts had it that it was the Attorney General who led the attack.Njonjo delivered an address full of aspersions against Mboyas ambitions and his American connections. Mboya argued back strongly. Then there was a crucial intervention on Mboyas side by Bruce McKenzie a man uniquely placed in more ways than one, not one of the Kikuyu group but certainly enjoying its confidence. He reminded Kenyatta of the story of the monarch whose kingdom prospered while his able son did everything but which fell into disarray after the king disposed of him when jealous courtiers spread lies about him and his ambitions. In this case Mzee listened and the attack failed.

It is clear from this incident that there was a cabal in Government that were determined to see Mboya out at any cost, led by Njonjo.

The Government at this stage (1967) set up a committee with Kenyattas approval to propose a succession formula to replace the existing one under which if the President died in office the Assembly would elect a successor for the balance of his term (this formula had ironically been drafted by Mboya and Njonjo in 1964).
According to Goldsworthy, the Gatundu group now feared that if Mboya were given an opening under .(these) arrangements he could mesmerize parliament and ensure his own election.

He continues Accordingly in March the Government introduced a constitutional amendment bill providing that if the President died, the vice President would automatically succeed him for the rest of his term.. Mboyas position was saved, however by the genuine anger and resentment of almost all of the back-bench MPs at this further erosion of parliamentary power. Confronted by their flat refusal to pass the bill, the government meaning essentially the Gatundu group presented in April a revised version under which the vice president would succeed for six months after which there would be a national election.

In May, while this was being debated Kenyatta suffered a mild stroke. Thereupon Njonjo and Moi, without consulting Cabinet hurriedly put up a third version whose effect was to retain the six-month interim president but to reduce his powers in certain areas. Obviously with this further watering-down they hoped for quick Parliamentary approval. Still concerned above all to block Mboya, they however added a completely new clause raising the minimum age of Presidential candidates from thirty five to forty (Mboya was thirty nine). And again here they miscalculated.

Ministers and MPs of almost all persuasions were angry at so blatant a manouevre; and the Assembly refused once again to be taken for granted. Moreover Kenyatta soon recovered, and was incensed to find his close lieutenants apparently assuming him as good as dead and busily ensuring their own security. He intervened personally to withdraw the bill and in a turbulent cabinet meeting in which, it is said, Kenyatta told off Moi and Njonjo is scorching terms a fourth and final version was worked out.

From these accounts and from discussions with friends and relatives who were mature at the time I have concluded that clearly, Njonjo, Koinange and Mungai were determined to get my father out of the way of Presidential succession and were becoming more and more desperate by the day especially as Kenyattas health faltered. Moi as Vice President was the pawn they would use to thus consolidate themselves in case of Kenyattas demise.

My father I believe was interested in power. But not for the reasons the others wanted the same.

Goldworthy says Mboya felt, then, growing dissatisfactions with the international development effort, and more especially with the economic behaviour of the Western powers. To this should probably be added a disenchantment with the attitudes and behaviour of African ruling groups themselves. Mboya certainly felt that policy making and administrative elites should be properly paid for their leadership role; but massive and rapid capital accumulation through the opportunistic fusing of political, administrative, and business roles was a different matter. It must have appeared to him as a perversion of the whole developmental purpose, and as something of a betrayal of the ideas he had tried to work out for Kenya and Africa. As Gertzel puts it,

Mboya stood essentially for a rational economic development as opposed to any short-term policies that might benefit one group at the future expense of the country as a whole. He argued explicitly for broad limits of planning within which the politics of influence must be contained. It implied a challenge to any one group that wanted immediate benefits at the cost of future development, and was likely in particular to arouse opposition from a burgeoning economic class .

And again Of course he was ambitious to get and keep power; and it was surely true that Mboya, perhaps more than any other member of the Governing elite, sought to use power in the social interest.

To me it is clear that a rift had emerged between Mboya and the Gatundu group led by Njonjo based on their fear and jealousy of him and the fact that they saw power as a means to rapid financial accumulation which was against Mboyas ideals. Such a person would not do as a President in their eyes.

Goldworthy says the final straw was when it became clear to the Gatundu group that without Mboya (Odinga was already out) they would not be able to keep anything in Nyanza (this despite the fact that they had already attacked and decimated all of Mboyas power bases).

They clearly thought that Mboya was a walkover and their demonstration of power would bring him in line. They were gravely mistaken. Mboyas attitude was one of indifference when it came to issues of Kanus political prowess in Nyanza. As such;
In May 1969 a by election was held in Gem constituency to elect a successor to Argwings Kodhek who had been killed in a car accident. Gem had been that rarity, a Kanu held seat in Central Nyanza. Mboya both as party Secretary-General and as the sole remaining Luo minister at the highest level was naturally expected to spearhead the Governments campaign on behalf of its Luo candidate. But this time he stayed right out of it, and it fell upon Mungai to lead Kanus campaign. Mboyas unspoken message seemed to be: let them see what they can do without me.

Kanus candidate was crushed. In the view of some, this incident was for the inner group the final straw: the factor which hardened them against Mboya once and for all.

In the final anaylsis. Mboya was murdered and he had seen it coming. But he was not prepared to compromise on his ideals.

Who had the motive to murder him?

Who had the capacity to do it?

Who had the ability to cover it up?

In mboyas trial, my understanding is that the prosecution failed to follow up on an allegation made by a senior Police officer to the effect that when they were interrogating Njenga he had said, why ask me, why not ask the big man? the prosecution failed to follow this in the trial. In addition I understand that the family lawyer, one Fritz De Souza was not allowed to cross examine the suspect? Why would this be so? Does it make sense? unless there was a deliberate attempt by the powers at the time to avoid that question.

Yours sincerely
Lucas Mboya

Posted by Karuga wa Njuguna

Published by Korir, API*APN tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

5 Responses to “Kenya: Lucas Mboya: Who killed my father?”

  1. Jill Chiappini said

    I am the daughter of a colonialist land surveyor who was Head of the Survey Department of Kenya. His last mission was to train up a brilliant young man to be his successor and to divide up the ‘White HIghlands’ into serviceable plots for the African people. My father kept in touch with this man throughout the rest of his life in England and on his visits back to Kenya and we received a wonderful letter from him on my father’s death. My father was a great admirer of your late Father, Tom Mboya, and was hugely saddened and shocked at the news of his death. Like many throughout the World, he felt that if Kenya was in the hands of your father and his ilk then the country had a great future. Tomorrow I will be giving a short (not easy!) presentation on his education or the lack of it in Colonial times impacted Kenya among many other countries and, more importantly, the life and huge impact your Father had on the world. I have been in touch with Cora Weiss and she kindly sent me the Airlift to America book which I now hold dear. I add that I am sure, as a parent of sons myself, your dear Father would want you to get on with your life and not live with the anger and hatred which is natural in your position. I think we all know the truth. I wish you and the family all of the very best. Jill


  2. Paul Saoke said

    Lucas, This may come a little late but a friend of mine by name Cora Weiss coordinated the Airlift with your father. There is a book on that which was published towards end of 2011. I have a copy. Cora is currently indisposed and does not respond to emails any more. Besides she is now very advanced in age. The last time we met in Japan in 2010, she could barely move her frame around even though her voice was crystal clear and with an astute mind. I helped with the research on the book here in Kenya. If you are interested in this discussion then you can reach me on


  3. Dr. John Ouko said

    Thats why they dont want to give power to Luos for they knows what they did,the same to Dr.Robert Ouko


  4. eduardo dosanjo said

    The late Tom mbuya not mboya & i think joseph is babtism name.
    May the family come up with this correction


  5. " Impressed" said

    Brilliant,Insightful,and to the point. Your Father continues to live through you.History will not be kind to the perpetrators of this great injustice to your family.Keep the Myoya flame burning.


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