Germany handed over its claim on the territories which would become Kenya to Great Britain in the 1880’s, as part of a mutual agreement between European powers to avoid armed conflict over their territorial claims. As a result, the Imperial British East Africa Company set up shop as a trade profiteer but soon became the areas de facto government as Britain attempted to steer clear of any direct governmental involvement.
|Amboseli National Park|
The building of the railroad forever changed the face of Kenya. Not only economically, but also culturally as thousands of workers were brought in by the British from India, many of whom became permanent settlers throughout the area. These Indian populations not only influence things like art and cuisine but also the political landscape, representing another non-white european interest in the countries political future.
Determined to force white settlers from Kenya, the Mau Mau Rebellion was part terrorist campaign, part military engagement and part civil war. But whatever conclusion one draws about the nature of the conflict, and it was one marked with horrible atrocities throughout, one thing is clear; the end of the conflict in 1956 essentially marked the beginning of the move towards independence. In 1960, London announced they would hand over power in Kenya to a democratically elected government.
Jomo Kenyatta was a Kikuyu born in British East Africa in 1889. His interest in politics began in 1924 when he joined the KCA, the Kikuyu Central Association which aimed to lobby London on behalf of tribal interests. Kenyatta spent years in London writing, studying and speaking out on the perils of africans in their native lands. He returned to Kenya after the Second World War and was imprisoned by the British during the Mau Mau Rebellion, though his direct involvement in the rebellion’s leadership is not entirely certain. During his imprisonment he was elected president of the Kenyan African National Union (KANU) and upon his release in 1961 he emerged as one of Kenya’s most important political leaders.
The first Kenyan election was held in 1963 and KANU won the majority of seats in the newly formed parliament. As a result, Kenyatta became Prime Minister. A year later, Kenya enacted a new constitution and became a republic, with Kenyatta being elect to the presidency in 1964. Over the years he consolidated power, turning Kenya into essentially a one-party government. Kenyatta stayed in his office until his death in 1978 at the age of 88. He was succeded by his Vice-President Daniel arap Moi, who served until 2002 when the newly elected Mwai Kibaki essentially ended the single-party rule, ushering in a new period of democracy in Kenya.
|Statue of Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi|
by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)