Mboya, Thomas Joseph

Mboya, Thomas Joseph mboiˈə [key], 1930–69, Kenyan political leader. The son of a Luo farmer, he was born in the “white highlands” of Kenya and educated at Roman Catholic mission schools. Early involved in trade union activities, he joined Jomo Kenyatta's Kenya African Union and soon became one of its leaders. In 1953 he was elected general secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labor. After studying in India and England, Mboya returned (1956) to Kenya and, under the first elections held (1957) for African members of the Kenya Legislative Council, was one of eight elected. Heading a delegation to the All-African People's Conference (1958) in Accra, Ghana, he was elected its president. As leader of the Kenya Independence Movement, he was instrumental in securing a constitution assuring African political supremacy. Merging his group with the newly formed Kenya African National Union in 1960, he became general secretary of the organization. After Kenya gained (1963) its independence, Mboya served as minister of labor (1962–63), minister of justice and constitutional affairs (1963–64), and minister of economic planning and development (1964–69). His popularity established him as a likely successor to Kenyatta, and his assassination in 1969 set off widespread rioting. He wrote Kenya Faces the Future: A Statement of the African Case in Kenya (1959).

See a collection of his speeches and writings in The Challenge of Nationhood (1970); biography by A. Rake (1962).

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