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Mboya (Tom) papers
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Alternative Form Available
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note

  • Title: Tom Mboya papers
    Date (inclusive): 1950-1969
    Collection Number: 2002C32
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 73 manuscript boxes (29.2 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, memoranda, reports, studies, minutes, and printed matter, relating to political, social and economic conditions in Kenya, trade unions and education in Kenya, Kenyan foreign relations, and pan-Africanism. Also available on microfilm (82 reels).
    Creator: Mboya, Tom
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    Microfilm use only. Materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Acquisition Information


    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Tom Mboya papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Alternative Form Available

    Also available on microfilm (83 reels).

    Biographical Note

    1930 Born, Kenya
    1950s Works for Nairobi City Council as a sanitary inspector
    1953 July Attends Third World Conference of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Stockholm
    1953 October Becomes Secretary General of the Kenya Federation of Registered Trade Unions, subsequently the Kenya Federation of Labor
    1955-1956 Studies at Oxford University
    1956 Undertakes first speaking tour of the United States
    1957 Elected Member of the Legislative Council of Kenya
    1958 December Serves as chairman of the All African Peoples Conference in Accra, Ghana
    1959 Visits the United States and forms the African-American Students Foundation in conjunction with William Scheinman. This foundation initiates the student airlift program that brings Kenyan students to the United States and Canada
    1960 Supervises second student airlift program
      Becomes Secretary General of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), a political party which supports Jomo Kenyatta
    1960 January-February Participates in the Lancaster House negotiations on Kenyan independence, in London
    1962 Becomes Minister for Labor
      Participates in second Lancaster House conference on Kenyan independence
    1963 Author, Freedom and After
    1963-1964 Serves as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs
    1964-1969 Serves as Minister for Economic Planning and Development
    1969 July 5 Assassinated in Nairobi

    Scope and Content Note

    Until his untimely death in 1969 at the hands of an assassin, Tom Mboya was a major figure in the political landscape of Kenya, being widely viewed as a likely successor to the first president of independent Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. In a relatively short but extremely busy lifetime, Mboya assumed a variety of often overlapping roles: labor leader, nationalist militant, politician, Pan-Africanist, and educator. His many activities brought Mboya to prominence, both across Africa and internationally, and his numerous travels and speaking engagements further enhanced his image as rising star of African politics.
    Acquired in 2001, the Tom Mboya collection in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives provides a documentary record of this varied career, and as such represents a significant resource for scholarship on modern Africa. It is, of course, especially relevant to the study of Kenya, both before and after independence, but the collection also contains materials that illuminate aspects of Cold War politics in Africa, as well as extensive documentation on programs bringing Kenyan students to the United States for university study.
    Mboya first achieved recognition as a trade unionist in a Kenya that was still a British colony, and his involvement with the Kenyan independence movement drew him into politics on a wider stage. He used his position as Secretary General of the Kenya Federation of Labor to press for the detained Kenyatta's release from British custody, and was instrumental in the formation of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the main political party of the African population in the country, winning a seat in the Kenyan parliament as a KANU candidate. Mboya became Secretary General of KANU, and participated in the two rounds of negotiations with Britain that resulted in the achievement of Kenyan independence in 1963.
    Mboya served in a number of ministerial posters under the presidency of Kenyatta, and was Minister for Economic Planning and Development in the years immediately prior to his death. While in government, Mboya retained his position as head of KANU, and was a firm opponent of tribalism as a factor in post-colonial Kenyan politics. It is believed that tribal rivalries, and their influence in the struggle to succeed Kenyatta, were a factor in Mboya's assassination, the full story of which has never been explicated. The Mboya collection itself does not provide any further answers to the questions surrounding Mboya's killing.
    The unorthodox series and subseries headings in the Mboya register reflect the original arrangement and description of the materials as established by Tom Mboya and his heirs. The series order reflects the shipping manifest accompanying the collection. The original reference number for each subseries is provided in parenthesis after each subseries heading in the register, and discrepancies are noted when the contents of the subseries are at variance with the heading. There is no separate series for speeches and writings, but significant speeches and articles by Tom Mboya are listed in the register as they occur in the collection. There is a PUBLIC AFFAIRS series that contains a number of speeches and writings by Mboya.
    Throughout his public career, Mboya conducted an extensive official correspondence, and in the collection this is grouped largely according to organization or government department. There are separate TRADE UNIONS and KANU series, as well as one for foreign correspondence (see GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE WITH FOREIGN COUNTRIES). Materials can be found in these series concerning Mboya's relations with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and his correspondence in these series with American officials such as Jay Lovestone and Irving Brown is of importance in understanding American policies toward Africa. The extensive MISCELLANEOUS CORRESPONDENCE series at the end of the collection contains both official and personal correspondence, much of which is grouped by country. This series also contains materials concerning Mboya's official visit to Australia in 1964.
    There is a large amount of materials in the collection that pertains to Kenyan domestic politics, some of which provide a glimpse into the role played by tribal divisions within the country. The PARLIAMENT and POLITICS series also record Mboya's many dealings with constituents as a Member of the Legislative Council, and in his ministerial posts.
    In 1959, Tom Mboya initiated a significant effort to provide Kenyan students with opportunities to attend universities abroad, especially in the United States and Canada, and there is a great deal of material concerning the student airlift program associated with his name (see especially the INSTITUTES AND BURSARIES and the UNIVERSITIES series in the collection).
    Additional materials concerning the airlift and about Mboya himself can be found in the William X. Scheinman collection in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives. The Scheinman collection contains drafts and proofs of Mboya's autobiography, Freedom and After, and a number of speeches and articles by him. There are also audiovisual materials concerning Mboya in the Scheinman collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Kenya -- Politics and government
    Kenya -- Economic conditions
    Kenya -- Social conditions
    Education -- Kenya
    Labor movement -- Kenya
    Kenya -- Foreign relations
    Statesmen -- Kenya