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It was only just over a year ago, on 19 October 2011 to be precise, that a monument to the memory and achievement of a Kenyan hero, Tom Mboya, was unveiled by President Kibaki in central Nairobi. Thirteen months later and it is a dilapidated, stinking wreck that dishonours a great man but bears sad testimony to so much that is still wrong in Kenya nearly 49 years after the independence that Mboya fought for.

The 20 feet high statue of Tom Mboya in full African garb, his right arm and hand outstretched gesturing to the future, surrounded by 12 flamingos in an artificial stream emerging from the rocks on which the sculpture stands, was impressive when unveiled on the junction of Tom Mboya Street and Moi Avenue, only a few yards from where he was assassinated in July 1969.

Within months however, the press reported that the memorial was not being maintained properly and was in need of repair. But surely, some of us thought, there have been memorials and monuments built around the world that have lasted for hundreds of years?

Those reports spoke volumes for what was in effect a poorly built structure that looked fine on the outside when new but beneath the surface hid the weaknesses that would rapidly lead to its decline. How often could we say that of buildings in Nairobi?

Now, surrounded by fetid waters full of rubbish and mosquitoes, the plaque unveiled by President Kibaki gone, the flamingos headless, the metal work corroding, the memorial to one of Kenya’s greats is a sad reflection of a country that five decades after independence has its roads built by the Chinese… and then does not maintain them.

Tom Mboya must be turning in his grave.


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