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The big fallout between Mboya and Jaramogi in 1958

 Tom Mboya, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Oneko at the Kamkunji Rally to mark Kenyatta day celebrations on Oct 20, 1965. [File, Standard]

Assassinated Cabinet Minister Tom Mboya was not quite the likeable and affable character that emerged in death.

Mboya's propensity to rub people the wrong way, particularly his political opponents, was the stuff of a legend.

Loved out there but loathed at thome, Mboya did not help his cause much in building local alliances that could come to his aid.

In demeanour and talk, he seemed fed up with the local menu of politics that the streets served. Sometimes, he walked with one hand in his pocket, betraying the posture of man who felt lonely.

"He had little patience for endless talk. Too often he acted and spoke as if he were the sole leader and was encouraged to do so by those Europeans and Americans who admired his talents, sometimes to the bafflement of Africans who pointed out that others, like Kiano and Mwai Kibaki, had university degrees whereas had not," writes Keith Kyle in The Politics Of The Independence of Kenya.

The African Elected Members of Legislative Council had been complaining that Mboya was monopolising the struggle. One of them, Masinde Muliro, openly charged that their chairman, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was not doing much to restrain his tribesman.

On June 26, 1958, Odinga set out to silence Mboya once and for all, and to put him in his place. It was a trap Mboya never saw coming.

In a LEGCO debate, Odinga declared that "in the heart of hearts of Africans" the Kapenguria Six then languishing in prison "are still the political leaders of the Africans in this country."

He sustained this line of thought the following day when debate resumed. Mboya purported to apologise on Odinga's behalf but while this pleased the whites, it did not help his image among the Africans. He retracted a few weeks later, after Odinga persisted.

But Mboya also got other people fed up with him. One such person was is his long time secretary, and editor of his publication, Uhuru. The man, M D Odinga, a Maragoli, turned the tables on his former boss when they fell out.

He wrote an article in the Sunday Post of August 31, 1958 deriding Mboya as a "young man on a tiger." He claimed Mboya was so much obsessed with power that it was more precious to him than the national cause he espoused.

At the time, Mboya was leader of Nairobi People Convention, a party modelled in name and structure of his idol Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party.

Odinga's dress-down of Mboya opened a can of worms to all who derisively waited for such a moment. One party youth winger Abraham "Lumumba" Mungai openly challenged Mboya to a duel.

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