Around 1959, a dynamic young leader from Kenya named Tom Mboya visited Senator John F. Kennedy of the United States of America.
Mboya, who was 28 years old at the time pitched a campaign that would bring hundreds of Kenyan students to America for higher education, including Barack Obama Sr, former US president Brack Obama’s father.
Senator Kennedy and Mboya had first met in 1959 at a conference on international affairs.
According to the JFK Library, at the time, Mboya was on a speaking tour of North America seeking scholarships for Kenyan students whose opportunities for higher education under British colonial rule were severely limited.
The JFK Library states that Mboya’s personal quest secured dozens of scholarships from American and Canadian institutions.
“He also attracted a number of key supporters, including businessman William Scheinman, former baseball star Jackie Robinson, singer Harry Belafonte, and actor Sidney Poitier,” the Library states.
“Along with several others, they created the African American Students Foundation (AASF), which raised funds for travel and living expenses. Their fundraising supplemented money raised by African students’ families and tribal groups.”
On September 11, 1959, eighty-one students from East Africa arrived in New York City on a chartered flight. After two days of orientation the students dispersed to colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada.
“Based on the success of the 1959 program, AASF obtained new scholarships for approximately 250 additional students from Kenya,” the Library states.
Renowned Kenyan historian Opiyo Levin Odhiambo who is based in the United Kingdom published a list of the first Kenyan students to be airlifted to US in 1959 and the universities and colleges they attended in America. These Kenyans were:
1). Alividza, Grace; Howard University, Washington
2). Boit, Dorcas, Chepkemboi; Spelman College, Atlanta Georgia.
3). Chanzu, Said Ambenge; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
4). Chege, Henry Rigii; Cascade College, Portland 17, Oregon.
5). Dalizu, Fred Egambi; Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
6). Gathoni, Gladwell; Diablo Valley College, Concord, California.
7). Gichoki, Rose; Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa.
8). Gichuru, Mary Nyaguthii; Newton High School, Newton 60, Massachusetts.
9). Gichuru, Simon Mukua; St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.
10). Gicuhi, Evanson Ngiabi; Diablo Valley College, Concord, California.
11). Gitatha, Samuel Kinyanjui; Central State College, Wilberforce, Ohio.
12). Githaiga, Francis Lewis,; Diablo Valley College, Concord, California.
13). Indakwa, John, Bungoma; Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania.
14). Isige, Jackton Junyi; Wisconsin State College; Steven’s Point, Wisconsin.
15). Kabachia, Venetio; LaSalle College, Philadelphia 41, Pennsylvania.
16). Kairo, Simon Thuo; Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, Kirksville, Missouri.
17). Kajubi, Younus Mpagi; Howard University, Washington 1, D. C.
18). Kanau, Elizabeth; Diablo Valley College, Concord, California.
19). Kanau, George Cachigi; Diablo Valley College, Concord, California.
20). Kang’ethe, John; Roosevelt University, Chicago 5, Illinois.
21). Karuga, Cyrus G.; Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
22). Katungulu, Regina; Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York.
23). Kimanthi, Titus; Houghton College, Houghton, New York.
24). Kiwinda, Ellistone; Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas.
25). Kungu, James G. Diablo Valley College, Concord, California.
26). Kwasa, Shadrack Ojuda, South Nyanza; Howard University, Washington 1, D. C.
27). Magucha, Joseph Bern; Greenville College, Greenville, Illinois.
28). Maloiy, Geofery M., Karen; Central College, Pella, Iowa.
29). Mungai, Arthur Wagithuku; Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.
30). Masembwa, Solomon M.; Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, Kirksville, Missouri.
31). Maundu, Daniel,; Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas.
32). Maundu, Phillip, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.
33). Mbayah, Mungai, Kikuya; economics; New School for Social Research, New York, New York.
34). Mbithi, Johnson; Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama.
35). Mbogua, John Peter, Limulu; McGill University, Montreal, P. Q., Canada.
36). Njuguna, Beatrice Wairimu,; McKinley Continuation High School, Berkeley, California.
37). M’Mugambi, Andrew F.,; Georgetown University, Washington 7, D. C.
38). Mugweru, James S., ; Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
39). Murai, Stephen Macharia, St. Dunstan’s University, Charlottetown, Prince Edward’s Island, Canada.
40). Muratha, Nicholas (Hugo), Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina.
41). Murungi, Robert Wallace, Meru; College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho.
42). Mutisya, Samuel, KiKima; Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas.
43). Huyia, Harrison Bwire, Wayne State University, Detroit 2, Michigan.
44). Mwalozi, Dickson C., Mombasa; Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.
45). Mwangi, Charles, St. Dunstan’s University, Charlottetown, Prince Edward’s Island, Canada.
46). Mwangi, Joseph Wanyoike, Thika; St. Thomas College, Chatham, N. B., Canada.
47). Mwihia, Francis Mbugua, Thika; Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
48). Mwihia, Kathleen, New York University, Adult’s ducation, New York, New York.
49). Nabutete, Frank Habakuk, Maseno; Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas.
50). Ngumbi, John Mutua; Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, Texas.
51). Njoroge, Raphael, Thika; St. Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada.
52). Ochieng, Adonijah; San Francisco State College, San Francisco 27, California.
53). Ochieng, John, Yala; economics; Simpson College, Indianola.Iowa.
54). Ochieng, Philip, Sare; economics; Roosevelt University, Chicago 5, Illinois.
55). Ochola, George Philip, Nairobi; industrial relations; University of Chicago, Chicago 37, Illinois.
56). Ochola, Samuel Abuna, ; State University of New York Teachers College, New Paltz, New York.
57). Odede, Pamela, Nairobi; sociology; Western College, Oxford, Ohio.
58). Odero, Boniface, Ndori; Manhattan College, Riverdale 71, New York.
59). Odinge, Odera Barack, ; journalism; Northern State Teachers College, Aberdeen, South Dakota.
60). Ododa, Patricia, ; home economics; Howard University, Washington 1, D. C.
61). Oduar, Benjamin Enos,, ; agriculture; Central State College, Wilberforce, Ohio.
62). Ogessa, Silvano W. Onyango,; geography; DePauw College, Greencastle, Indiana.
63). Ogola, Boaz Harrison, ; economics; Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.
64). Olembo, James Reuben, ; science; Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana.
65). Omondi, Raphael, ; mathematics; St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas.
66). Onyundo, Amram, ; agriculture; Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama.
67). Otieno, Jackson, ; engineering; Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.
68). Otieno, Olero Samuel, pre-medical, Morris Brown College, Atlanta, Georgia.
69). Otono, Elisha Otieno; St. Mary’s College,, California.
70). Raballa, Nicholas, Betsia; chemistry/medical science; Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama.
71). Ragwar,Jennifer Adhiambo; Spellman College, Atlanta 3, Georgia.
72). Ruenji, Arthur, secondary subjects; Durham High School, Durham, Connecticut.
73). Samma, Abdulrasul, Liudi; economics; University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts.
74). Santiago, Francis Anthony, Nairobi; physical education; Howard Payne College, Brownwood, Texas.
75). Thairu, Daniel M., Lamer Kabeta; biology; Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia.
76). Wachira, Peter William, business administration; Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York.
77). Wagema, Grace, home economics; Howard University, Washington 1, D. C.
78). Warui, George Mhuthia, Lomer; science; Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma City 6, Oklahoma.
79). Washika, Nathan Fedha, Wisconsin State College, Superior, Wisconsin.
80). Watatua, Solomon; West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buchanan, West Virginia.
81). Wokabi, Angelina W.; education; Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa.