Tom Mboya: One of Kenya's Founding Fathers

Explore the fascinating life of a Kenyan hero through the lens of photojournalist Mohamed 'Mo' Amin.

By Mohamed Amin Foundation

Elections victory (1963) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

“Kenya’s independence would have been seriously compromised were it not for the courage and steadfastness of Tom Mboya.”
President Jomo Kenyatta

Tom Mboya returns home from his visit overseas (1950) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

A proud African and freedom fighter

Born in 1930, Thomas Joseph Odhiambo Mboya, referred to as Tom Mboya, was instrumental in the fight for Kenya’s freedom. A self-made man, Tom Mboya was an astute Pan-Africanist and was committed to the full liberation of Africans in Africa as well as in the diaspora. 

Tom Mboya with Ethel Kennedy, wife of Senator Robert F. Kennedy (1966) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

Loved by the people and a powerful politician

Tom Mboya was a trade unionist, educator, Pan-Africanist, author, independence activist, and statesman. He was Secretary-General of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and headed the Kenyan delegation in negotiating Kenya's independence from the British.

Victory, 1963 General Elections, Kenya (1963) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

12 December 1963

Kenya gained its independence from Britain on 12 December 1963, with Jomo Kenyatta becoming President. Tom Mboya served as Minister of Justice from 1963 to his untimely death in 1969. 

Senator Robert Kennedy with Tom Mboya and Dr. Njoroge Mungai by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

Important alliances

Tom Mboya initiated the famous Airlift programme. This initiative sponsored the education of some of Kenya’s most promising young minds between 1953 and 1963 at universities across the United States.

The Consistent Soldier, Charles Asati (1974) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

The national flag

Tom Mboya was also instrumental in designing Kenya's national flag. It includes the shield and spears, and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) and Kenya African National Union (KANU) party colours. 

Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Tom Mboya (1969) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

“There were few African leaders so well-known and so much admired abroad. At ease with the Nehrus and Kennedys of the world, his presence was eagerly sought at important international conferences … In the end, he should be remembered as a man of the world.”
Prof. Dharam Ghai

Tom Mboya – the man who helped to found a nation, is dead (1969) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

The assassination

Tom Mboya was felled by an assassin’s bullet on 5th July, 1969. He was only 38 years old. A man gone too soon. Mohamed Amin’s pictures of this giant of Africa are unforgettable. A chronicle of a life tragically cut short, Mo was with Mboya as he breathed his last, documenting his death as he had documented his life. His pictures of Mboya’s assassination will be forever etched in the minds of Kenyans as will Mo Amin’s images of his life.

Crowds gather as Tom Mboya, lies dying, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Crowds gather on Government Road, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Policemen help carry Tom Mboya from the Pharmacy, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Tom Mboya is carried out to a waiting ambulance, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Tom Mboya is carried out to a waiting ambulance, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Dr. Rafique Chaudhri desperately tried to revive Tom Mboya, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Mrs. Pamela Mboya is escorted to the house after following her husband’s coffin from the Mortuary in Nairobi, Kenya, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Mourners surround the coffin of Tom Mboya, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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The nation wept, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Tom Mboya’s children, watched the funeral preparations from a window of their home in Nairobi, Kenya, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Tom Mboya’s body arrives on his home ground, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Thousands blocked Tom Mboya’s funeral cortege in Kisumu, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Thousands lined up to pay their respects to a national hero, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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The nation wept as Tom Mboya’s body was returned to the Mboya home on Rusinga Island, Kenya, Mohamed Amin, 1969, From the collection of: Mohamed Amin Foundation
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Tom Mboya is laid to rest at his home in Rusinga Island, Kenya (1969) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

“We will never, never sell our freedom for capital or technical aid. We stand for freedom at any cost.”
Tom Mboya

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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