David Goldsworthy states in ‘Tom Mboya:The Man Kenya Wanted to Forget’ that on 27th February 1960, as the votes for Nairobi East Parliamentary elections were being counted, Tom Mboya sat in his house in Bahati with his friend Colin Legum until four in the morning, and although so much depended on the outcome of the elections in which most of his collegues in KANU top brass supported Dr. M. Wayaki against him with the Kikuyu leaders led by Kenyatta trying to mobilise Kikuyu along ethnic lines on the basis that he was not a kikuyu – the dominant group in the constituency – and the luo leaders led by Jaramogi declaring that he was not luo enough because of Suba orientation and birth in Kilimambogo, Tom hardly alluded to the elections except to say at one stage, “I have one great advantage over all my opponents. They are like sprinters who have to win every lap, or they will be left behind; I can afford to wait, like the long distance runner. Time is on my side.”

For hours thereafter, he spoke brilliantly about the likely pattern of developments in Africa in the 1980s.

When the votes were counted, he won astonishingly with 31,407 votes against his closest opponent, Dr. M. Wayaki who gannered a paltry 2668 votes.

It was a triumph that confirmed him beyond challenge as the political king of African Nairobi. It represented too the most resounding and personally satisfying blow he ever struck in his career against ‘negative tribalism’. Indeed it led some to conclude that, thanks to Mboya, the struggle to achieve a common sense of Kenyan nationhood was on the way of being won.

On that euphoric night of the 27th February, as Kikuyu cheered Luo, the most optimistic of forecasts for national unity seemed justifiable.

I believe as TJ spoke that night, he spoke for the youth of Kenya, then, and in the future. I would want to urge the youth of Kenya, that just like TJ, time is on their side and they can afford to try, fail, try again and even wait like the long distance marathon runner. The future of this country belongs on the youth. Whatever they decide to do with it is all up to them.Odhiambo Levin Opiyo


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