African Press International (API)

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The historical gem of Rusinga Island

Posted by African Press International on July 4, 2008

By Harold AyodoA bloodstained brief case sits on a slab at the Tom Mboya Mausoleum in Rusinga Island, a stark reminder of his murder 39 years ago.

This was the briefcase Mboya had when he was shot. The burial chamber, constructed in 1971, is the shape of the silver bullet believed to have ended the life of the former Cabinet minister.

The black flywhisk the youngest minister in the first Cabinet of 27 after independence carried to political functions is also displayed in the mausoleum.

Mboyas briefcase which is popular with visitors.

“Go and fight like this man who fought for mankinds cause who died because he fought whose battles are still known,” reads an inscription on the marble grave.

The national flag that draped the casket is also tacked in the mausoleum. Also on display is a certificate that made Mboya an honorary citizen of the Kansas City in the US in 1966.

“US ambassador Michael Rannerberger was here recently

Mboyas Mausoleum in Rusinga Island has become a historical site. It was built two years after his death. Picture by Titus Munala

and was so impressed by the certificate that he donated a clock to be hanged next to it,” says Paul Ndiege, 28, the caretaker of the mausoleum. He adds that several tourists visit the site in Lwanda village, Kamsengre, Rusinga West location, annually.

“Visitors come here for many reasons some, like scholars and authors, come for research on TJs life, while others just for social and historical reasons,” says Ndiege.

Ndiege says the dark green suitcase that the minister carried when he was assassinated on a Saturday afternoon on July 5, 1969, interests 99 per cent of visitors.

“Many are amazed that the bloodstained brief case is still intact it is the most photographed item in the mausoleum,” says Ndiege.

The condolence book signed on the day Mboya was buried in his fathers compound 39 years ago is also among the highly valued items.

Tourist attraction

Also preserved for posterity is the black nameplate, a souvenir from the Chinese Government, that stood on the ministers desk. Several flags of the countries he visited and whose leaders paid him a courtesy call are hoisted in the burial chamber.

“People also have a lot of interest on the Bible with the holy water on top, which Mboya was given as a souvenir when on honeymoon in Israel in 1962,” says Ndiege.

The manicured mausoleum, which the Government recently expressed interest to take over as a museum, could pass as a pre-independence library.

Books and laminated newspaper cuttings on the struggles for independence and the role Mboya played are at the entrance.

“Several researchers travel from several corners of the world to dig information on pre-independence most of which are on books written on Mboya,” says Ndiege.




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