June 1, 2020 1 By Tonny Ogwa

A certain someone with a brain capacity greater than my own once said that, “friends are like petals on a flower; together they’re beautiful and make you smile but eventually the petals fall off and drift off in the wind.” And he was right. If he wasn’t, I still wouldn’t have told you so, seeing that I went to no school for you.

I was born in the village. I’ve known life outside the village but still, if the fairy comes knocking on my door today, my only wish would be to live the rest of my life happily ever after in the village. Whatever you do with this information is your business. My business though, is the number of people named after Tom Mboya in my village. Because they are so many I could count on both my fingers and toes and still not arrive at the total tally.

My father recounts stories of his uncle who in the early sixties traveled to Nairobi in search of a sixth wife. When asked how he would facilitate his sojourn, he replied in boisterous laugh that Mbuya (Mboya) wuod Rusinga had built a huge boarding house in the city for every visiting Luo. You can imagine what transpired when he got there. Well, he came back to his five wives after two weeks, dejected and forlorn.

And with no new wife in tow.

To this day there are still people in my village who believe the statue of Mboya at Tom Mboya Avenue is actually pointing to a grand guest house complete with swimming pools and prestigious masiiidis ( read Mercedes) vehicles. All for city visiting Luo brothers and sisters.

And because today is a Sad Madaraka day, and because my father sold his coveted cows to send me to school so I can eventually force knowledge through your thick craniums, I’m going to give you a brief history of this man Tom Mboya. And in so doing, tell you why “friends” are the most unreliable thing after Airtel’s internet connection.

Your history books will tell you that Thomas Joseph Mboya born in some sisal farm in central Kenya to Luo parents was very pivotal to the Madaraka day you celebrate today, and I reiterate. What history books doesn’t tell you is that men like Mboya aren’t born every day. Tom lived far ahead of his time, but you already know that. What you may not have known is that Mboya’s life not only shaped kenyan history but international history as well. During the famous Mboya airlift of the 1959, among the many students lifted to various universities in America was a young Luo named Barack Hussein Obama. And like any other honourable Luo who respects himself, this Obama did not disappoint. When he left the US soon after Kenya’s indepence, he came back home with PhD and much more. Another Barack. Surely even your village mad man knows this other Barack went to become the first black president of the free world. Thanks to Mboya.

At the pinnacle of his life, this quick witted, sharp dresser and ever smiling man had a battery of friends surrounding him. Notably among them former ministers Dr. Njoroge Mungai, Dr. Julius Gikonyo Kiano, former president Mwai Kibaki and his best man and former AG Charles Njonjo. You remember in the 1960 parliament Mboya and Njonjo would be dubbed the senior berchelors since the two of them were the only unmarried members of the house. It’s okey if you don’t remember, you were not there in 1961. Mboya would wed a year later in colourful ceremony with Njonjo as his best man. Njonjo would wed 3 years after conspiring in the murder of his best friend.

What history books will not tell you either is that every single ‘friend’ Mboya had contributed in one way or another to his downfall. Because like petals that’s what friends do; they leave, they betray they decay. Here is what doesn’t leave, doesn’t decay; family. Even common sense that you were not taught in school will tell you that blood is thicker than porridge. Have a friend or two and make them family. Family never abandons, they never disappoint.

Also the world owes you nothing. It was here first.

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