18 Rare Photos of Tom Mboya’s Wedding to Pamela Odede

In April 1962, Ebony Magazine published a lead feature on the January 1962 wedding of Tom Mboya and Pamela Odede.

“Africa’s No. 1 Bachelor Takes a Bride”, the feature (which is available on Google Books) tells the story of a young, ambitious, well-connected rising star at one of the moments that defined his life. The guest list featured the high and the mighty in both the colonial and the would-be independence government.?

Wedding Photo 4

From Uganda, the flamboyant King Freddie (Mutesa II, the 35th Kabaka of Buganda and first President of Uganda) caused a stir with his suave entry. Tanganyika’s Julius Nyerere was unable to attend but cabled in his congratulations.

9Jomo Kenyatta, recently released from detention, and Jaramogi were also in attendance. The politics and disagreements between them would define the independence government, and feature in successive ones. In the middle, for the first decade, would be Tom Mboya.

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Mboya’s bestman was the ever-flamboyant Charles Njonjo, then just crown counsel. He later became Kenya’s first Attorney General, seeing it through it’s first transition in 1978. Like Mboya, Njonjo’s downfall was his ambition although for him, the punishment was a public embarrasment, not a bullet.

The other groomsmen were Omolo Agar and Peter Otieno.

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The wedding took place at St. Peter’s Claver Church. Mboya was already a popular politician, aged only 32 at the time. He had intricate links and contacts around the globe.?

5Pamela is walked into the church by her father, Walter Odede. Odede was a politician closely affiliated with Mboya and Kenyatta. Pamela was one of the beneficiaries of the airlift of Kenyan students to American universities, organised by Tom and supported by JFK and William Scheinman.

Wedding Photo 3

The wedding was conducted by Archbishop JJ McCarthy. Among the congratulatory messages the newlyweds received that day was an apostolic blessing from Pope John XXIII and a message from the Aga Khan.

Wedding Photo 2

The reception was held at Charter Hall and hosted more than 2, 000 people. The bride and groom are visible on the right (below the white arrow).

12Outside, dancers stole the show. Notice the flamboyant mixture of traditional and modern clothes among the dancers.

7The newlyweds cut the multi-tiered wedding cake. On the right, Bruce McKenzie gives a speech in honor of the newlyweds. Bruce McKenzie died in May 1978 in what is widely believed to have been Ugandan President’s Idi Amin’s retaliation for McKenzie’s role in the Entebbe Raid.

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Derek Erskin performs a rather untalented but hilarious rendition of?Standing on the Corner, watching the girls go by.?The song was written by Frank Loesser in 1956. The man on the right is the Governor Sir Patrick Renison.

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Then the gifting ceremony…

 

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Mboya and his wife also took a detour to the trade unionist’s headquarters.

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The after party was held at Njonjo’s home.

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The couple then made for Tel Aviv on their 10-day honeymoon. At the end of the honeymoon, Mboya headed to London, for the 2nd Lancaster Conference. Midway through the conference, he made a transatlantic dash to Chicago to address the Annual Brotherhood Banquet [Link] before heading back to London.

All images from Ebony Magazine, April 1962. [Link]

Owaahh, 2015.

  • GMM

    The community has gone through hell and back again! We shall overcome.

  • afcombiz

    Such energy & connections.did the bride travel alone from Israel after the honeymoon

  • Gold Ruyondo

    who killed Tom Mboya

    • GMM

      Nashon Njenga under the instructions of Jomo Kenyatta and the Kiambu mafia.

      • Gold Ruyondo

        And who killed DR.Ouko?

        • GMM

          Ouko shot himself, broke his hands, burnt himself beyond recognition and carried himself to Got Alila where his charred remains were later found by a young boy looking after cows. That’s Moi and Biwot for you. This is Kenya.

          • Gold Ruyondo

            And who killed Ronald Ngala?

  • Bonita

    If only I discovered this blog earlier! I am hooked. This wedding was big. History speaks of his political career more and so we tend to overlook such details.

  • Gmusyoki

    Indeed a picture is worth a thousand words. I feel as if I was one of the attendees although I was born twenty six years later.

  • Tazama Kali

    Love it…thanx for digging up these great photos,….they are indeed museum worthy,

  • JoMu

    nice

  • Tabitha

    what a man! what a wedding!…God bless his family.

  • wonderful and awesome. May Almighty God bless thm all.

  • wonderful indeed, hope God still bless his family.

  • ondoro

    The great wedding of my model politician…Tom Mboya was highly gifted and with brains of pure diamonds….

  • Njeri Macharia

    Who was this guy? Too well connected at a very early stage in his political career. You would almost think it was a state wedding.

  • Amol Awuor

    The man Kenya still wants to forget indeed. The bad seeds of toxic politics planted by Old Jomo will take such a long time to uproot.

  • samoina wangui

    this is amazing!!!! wow. you really do take time to put this together!!

  • TheDivineBandit™

    So Awesome…one ends up missing Mboya like they knew him personally…That Kenyan loss.. 🙁

  • Sura Mbaya

    Beautiful…. beautiful.