A tribute to Tom Mboya

You were first a Kenyan then a Luo

On a day like this,
he strolled majestically,
he squared up his shoulders
as he pushed and shoved on this street that
decades later would be named after him
He was first a Kenyan then a Luo

He was full of life,
full of so much optimism and hope
at only age 23 he had dined with Kings
he had not even seen the inside walls of a university
but out of a High School education and a civil servant job
he had travelled far and wide
out of the ‘black continent’ to the shores of the ‘enlightened world’
he had even marched with Dr. King
He was first a Kenyan, then a Luo

On this day, he walked to a pharmacy
Probably chatted amicably with the staff
In his usual charming and humorous way
He probably cracked a joke with one of the staff
about how that morning his radio would not tune to VOK
He was first a Kenyan, then a Luo

As he walked out to the busy street of Nairobi
To all the matatu honking, brakes screeching as a driver tries to pick a mteja
To the “Beba! Beba”, “mbao! mbao!, Westi mbao!”
A mkokoteni puller passes him not even looking at him
He smiled, he looked from left to right
he thought of how soon this busy and quickly crowding city
would soon become a world destination
with bustling sky scrappers and a metro subway
as he had seen in the streets of London and in
the streets of Washington DC
He was first a Kenyan, then a Luo

But ghafla bin vu, punde si punde
a shot was fired
people scuffled, screams rented the air
he first stood, looked at his own pool of blood
then fell down
He was first a Kenyan, then a Luo

Soon the nation learnt of it,
wait no! the whole world learnt of it like wild fire
from the white house folks, the folks at the Queens palace
to those in the farthest corner of Asia and Africa
they all mourned you as a father mourns his lost beloved son,
You were first a Kenyan, then a Luo

On the day of your final send off, it rained heavily
we don’t know if it was to wipe away our tears
or it was a sign from Him who gives life
that this was not the end of the revolution you began
You were first a Kenyan, then a Luo

As of today we hardly know who or why
the dream was cut short
we only have speculations and smalltime evidence
we had one Nahashon Njenga who was hanged in Kamiti
on charges of being the assassin
but that does not solve anything
the ‘big man”, probably lives amongst us
We mourn that Pamela Mboya joined you recently
but despite all we are glad that the revolution continues
If I may steal a line from your arch enemy
“Its not yet Uhuru”
You were first a Kenyan, then a Luo

Today I take time to mourn you son of Kenya
Pardon me, it is not befitting of me even to address you as so
because all of Africa and the world claims you
you were a true Pan Africanist
I take time to reflect on how if you were here today
your heart would ache at what has become of us
I beg that on whatever side of the purgatory you reside
may you ashe on behalf of our greedy leaders
on behalf of us Kenyans who have been blinded by
our Kikuyuness, Jaluoness or Luhyaness
You were first a Kenyan, then a Luo


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