Respect Tom Mboya’s statue, Gor fans told
The family of post-independence politician Tom Mboya, who was assassinated 45 years ago, is bitter about the continued defacing of his statue on Moi Avenue.
Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia’s fans are accused of destroying the statue that was unveiled by retired President Mwai Kibaki in 2011, a few metres from where the flamboyant politician was gunned down.
Nahashon Isaac Njenga Njoroge was convicted for the killing and hanged.
After his arrest, Njoroge asked: “Why don’t you go after the big man? The identity of “the big man” was never revealed, but fed conspiracy theories since Mboya was seen as a contender for the presidency.
The tribal elite around Kenyatta known as the Mt Kenya mafia was blamed for Mboya’s death, but the group never faced a judicial inquiry.
During Mboya’s burial, a mass demonstration over the attendance of Kenyatta led to riots and two people were shot dead.
It’s a common practice for Gor fans to converge at the statue before and after every game. This has resulted in the destruction of flamingoes carvings that beautify the statue that cost tax payers Sh20 million.
Mboya, who was the Member of Parliament for Eastlands, as well as Minister for Economic Planning and Development and also the ruling party Kanu’s secretary general, was one of the founder members of Gor.
The conduct by some K’Ogalo fans has left the former minister’s family in anguish.
Mboya’s cousin, Peter Odede, said the destruction of the statue was deliberate and done under the guise of paying homage to the hero.
“Gor fans removed the plaque on the statue and they can’t convince anybody that they are acting in respect of Mboya. They are supporting the forces that didn’t want the statue erected in the first place,” said Odede.
He recalled vividly how in the 1968, Mboya called leaders of the Luo Sports Club and Luo Union FC to his house on Convent Drive, Lavington to kick-start Gor’s formation.
The meeting was called to discuss ways of merging the teams. Mboya influenced the merger and proposed that rather than have a tribal name; they should have one of a renowned leader from the Luo community.
Many names were flouted including legends such as Lwanda Magere who lived in (Kano), Okore Wuod Ogonda (Kisumu), Ogutu Wuod Kipapi (Ugenya), Tao K’Ogot (Ugenya), Obondo Mumo (Uyoma) and Gor Mahia (Kanyamwa).
Majority of these heroes hailed from Central Nyanza, now Kisumu, and Siaya counties.
Opinions were split, as members at the meeting pledged loyalty to their native homes rather than voting for the common good of the club.
“Among the proposed names, Gor Mahia received the most votes. At the end of the day, history was made when one of Kenya’s biggest and strongest clubs was born,” said Odede.
Later in the 1970s when retired President Daniel arap Moi directed all clubs to stop using tribal names, Gor Mahia FC was spared. Other clubs were, however, affected and had to change their names in line with the presidential decree.
“This is the reason we feel Tom Mboya is the brainchild of Gor Mahia, because it was formed in his house. The first officials were elected during the same meeting,” said Odede.
Members of the Mboya family are appealing to Gor Mahia officials to advise fans to exercise restrain and respect the statue as it is the legacy of the man who did a lot for the club and the country.
Gor’s first official green uniform was bought by the late Alphonce Okuku Ndiege in 1979 when the team was about to face Oroya FC from Guinea.
Okuku, Mboya’s brother, was the Member of Parliament for Mbita Constituency at the time – he served between 1974 and 1983.
“Oroya were the champions of the African Cup Winners Cup but Gor defeated them to reach the final,” said Odede.
“It is incumbent on Gor fans to respect what Mboya stood for. They should stop destroying the statue under the guise of going to pray,” said Adede.
“Tom Mboya Street was previously called Victoria Street in memory of the British queen Victoria who reigned in the 19th and 20th centuries. Our prayer is that Moi Avenue would be renamed Tom Mboya Street because it is the place he was assassinated on July 5, 1969 while leaving a chemist,” he added.
The family is, however, happy that the statue faces Eastlands, which Mboya represented and Ziwani where he lived before moving to Lavington in 1962.
At Mboya’s rural home in Rusinga Island, Homabay County, there is a mausoleum built in his memory by the family in 1970. It is a cylindrical brick structure with a cone-shaped roof near the grave.
It’s bullet-shape is a reminder that the late politician was felled by an assassin’s bullet. The mausoleum can be accessed from Lwanda K’Otieno through Mbita and is now under management of the National Museums of Kenya.
Born Thomas Joseph Odhiambo Mboya on August 15, 1930 the politician was one of the staunchest allies of Kenya’s first president Kenyatta from western region, which was dominated by the opposition.
Mboya, who started the Nairobi People’s Congress Party, played a key role in the formation of the then ruling party Kanu.