Francis Atwoli has been at the helm of workers union for a while now. He’s viewed as aggressive and committed to the labour ideals. The Flamboyant unionist is sometimes compared to the late Tom Mboya in early 60’s.He comes from a humble background in Kakamega county and Khwisero subcounty. His first job was at East African Posts and Telecommunications Corporation at a tender age. He then joined the union in 1967 just as shop steward.
Under the umbrella of COTU he has risen upto the international level in labour movement. As the secretary general of COTU he has gotten an opportunity in political landscape in Kenya. He proclaims to be third famous in the Nation after President Uhuru and Raila Odinga. He has currently courted system to be in a clear position to make political decisions. His main achievement is to fight for low income workers to raise the minimum wage. The wage is now at sh. 24,000.
On the other hand Tom Mboya had similar attributes as a young man. He exhibited his defiance fiercely with a lot of professionalism now that he was a great scholar unlike Atwoli. Mboya first worked as a sanitary inspector in Nairobi. Between 1953 and 1963 he was the general secretary of Kenya Federation of Labour (KFL). He was first elected in 1957 at legislative council elections as a workers’ candidate, becoming one of only eight elected African members on the council. In 1959 he helped found the African-American Students Foundation to raise money to send East African university students to the United States on charter flights, thus making it possible for many more students to study abroad.
Tom Mboya officially joined Kenyan politics after he founded KANU (Kenya African National Union) and participated in constitutional talks. Then Kenyatta appointed him as the Minister of justice and constitutional affairs before he was assassinated in 1969. Before his demise he had formulated laws to defend workers and vibrantly defended them against violation of their rights when he the minister.
Atwoli’s tactics is not unique to labour movement. Just like Mboya he has managed to penetrate in political atmosphere. The comparison is the latter has adamantly denied joining elective politics. His preference is to make decisions from the periphery not from within. He has enjoyed the support of workers across the world being elected in all occasions. Is Atwoli a smart of damp version of Tom Mboya? Has he forgotten workers or he’s doing politics for their best interest?