The leading African figure in the modern history of Kenya was Jomo Kenyatta (1893?–1978). From the 1920s to the 1970s he was in the forefront of African nationalism. Imprisoned and restricted during the Mau Mau revolt for his alleged role in its organization, he was released in August 1961 and was president of independent Kenya from 1964 until his death. Another dominant African personality was Tom Mboya (1930–69), who commanded an international reputation as a political and labor leader. Oginga Odinga (1911–94), usually at odds with the ruling establishment, was vice-president from 1964 to 1966. Daniel arap Moi (b. 1924), a son of poor farmers, was vice-president for 11 years before succeeding Kenyatta as president in 1978.
Sir Michael Blundell (1907–93), a leader of the European community after World War II, came to be identified with those who sought to create a nonracial political society; he was a director of Barclays Bank of Kenya from 1968 to 1981. Richard Leakey (b. 1944) is a leading paleoanthropologist.