Friday, December 12, 2014



Nairobi, Kenya (JFK+50) Fifty-one years ago today, Kenya was officially granted independence from the British Commonwealth.  The Union Jack was replaced by the new black, red and green flag of the Republic of Kenya.

Kenya's quest for independence began in the 1950s.  The Mau Mau Rebellion was fought by the Kikuyu, the largest ethnic group in the country.  In 1952, a state of emergency was declared and many leaders arrested.

In 1957, the first direct election of native leaders to the Legislative Council was permitted and Africans soon dominated the body.  In 1963, a new constitution provided for a bicameral legislature.  Members of the Kenya African National Union were elected and Jomo Kenyatta* became the first Prime Minister.

Flag of the Republic of Kenya
By User:Pumbaa80


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) In 1960, Tom Mboya**, a young Kenyan leader, visited Senator John F. Kennedy, candidate for President of the United States. Tom asked JFK to assist in a campaign to bring hundreds of African students to study in the USA.

Ultimately the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation would provide $200,000 to the African American Student Foundation's program "Airlift Africa."  The JPK, Jr. Foundation requested that this donation not be made public.

Barack Obama, Sr., the first African to study in Hawaii, was supported by the AASF program.  The elder Obama graduated at the top of his class.  His son and the future POTUS, Barack Hussein Obama II, was born on August 4, 1961.

The airlift continued through 1963 and brought 750 East African students to America.  They enrolled in colleges in 41 states and several provinces of Canada.

On February 12, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy said...

"Education is, in truth, the only key to genuine African independence and progress."


"Airlift to America," by Tom Shachtman, St. Martins Press, New York, 2009.

John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts 

"Kenya Gains Independence," The Learning Network, December 12, 2011,

*Jomo Kenyatta (1894-1978) was born in the village of Gatundu.  He received a mission school education and by 1928 was General Secretary of the Kikuky Central Association.  He studied at the University College London and the London School of Economics.  After WWII, JK became principal of Kenya Teacher's College .  He served as Chairman of the KANU from 1963 to 1978.

Statue of Jomo Kenyatta
Nairobi, Kenya
Photo by Daryona (2010)

**Tom Mboya (1930-1969) was born in Kilima Mbogo and graduated from Ruskin College Oxford in 1956.  He was founder of the Nairobi People's Congress Party and served as Minister of Economic Planning and Development in the government of the Republic of Kenya. TM was shot and killed at the age of 38.

Tom Mboya Monument
Nairobi, Kenya
Photo by Stephenwanjau (2012)