Brief History Of Kenya

The history of Kenya dates back million years ago. The Rift Valley, which runs through the center of Kenya, has long been regarded as the cradle of Mankind.

Early archeological discoveries at Lake Turkana in Kenya of ancient hominoid, or human-like skulls dating back 2 1/2 million.

Colonial History of Kenya

The colonial history of Kenya was set forth by the Portuguese who were the first Europeans to explore the region of current-day Kenya, Vasco da Gama having visited Mombasa in 1498. Gama's voyage was successful in reaching India and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading networks of mixed land and sea routes, such as the Spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean. Omani Arab colonization of the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts brought the once independent city-states under closer foreign scrutiny and domination than was experienced during the Portuguese period.

Arab governance of all the major ports along the East African coast continued until British interests aimed particularly at ending the slave trade and creation of a wage-labor system began to put pressure on Omani rule, this is the point where the history of Kenya started changing and moving towards christianity.

The first Christian mission was founded on August 25, 1846, by Dr. Johann Ludwig Krapf, a German sponsored by the Church Missionary Society of England. He established a station among the Mijikenda on the coast. He later translated the Bible into Swahili.

The colonial takeover met occasionally with some strong local resistance: Waiyaki Wa Hinga, a Kikuyu chief who ruled Dagoretti who had signed a treaty with Frederick Lugard of the BEAC, having been subject to considerable harassment, burnt down Lugard's fort in 1890. Waiyaki was abducted two years later by the British and killed.

Following severe financial difficulties of the British East Africa Company, the British government on July 1, 1895 established direct rule through the East African Protectorate, subsequently opening (1902) the fertile highlands to white settlers.

A key watershed came from 1952 to 1956, during the "Mau Mau Uprising", an armed local movement directed principally against the colonial government and the European settlers. It was the largest and most successful such movement in British Africa, but it was not emulated by the other colonies. The protest was supported almost exclusively by the Kikuyu, despite issues of land rights and anti-European, anti-Western appeals designed to attract other groups.

The British killed over 4000, and the Mau Mau many more, as the assassinations and killings on all sides reflecting the ferocity of the movement and the ruthlessness with which the British suppressed it. Kenyatta denied he was a leader of the Mau Mau but was convicted at trial and was sent to prison in 1953, gaining his freedom in 1961. To support its military campaign of counter-insurgency the colonial government embarked on agrarian reforms that stripped white settlers of many of their former protections; for example, Africans were for the first time allowed to grow coffee, the major cash crop. Thuku was one of the first Kikuyu to win a coffee license, and in 1959 he became the first African board member of the Kenya Planters Coffee Union.

During the London conference held in 1960, agreement was reached between the African members and the English settlers of the New Kenya Group, led by Michael Blundell. However many whites rejected the New Kenya Group and condemned the London agreement, because it moved away from racial quotas and toward independence.

Following the agreement a new African party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), with the slogan "Uhuru," or "Freedom," was formed under the leadership of Kikuyu leader James S. Gichuru and labor leader Tom Mboya. Mboya was a major figure from 1951 until his death in 1969. He was praised as non-ethnic or anti-tribal, and attacked as an instrument of Western capitalism. Mboya as General Secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labor and a leader in the Kenya African National Union before and after independence skillfully managed the tribal factor in Kenyan economic and political life to succeed as a Luo in a predominantly Kikuyu movement. [29] A split in KANU produced the breakaway rival party, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), led by R. Ngala and M. Muliro. In the elections of February 1961, KANU won 19 of the 33 African seats while KADU won 11 (twenty seats were reserved by quota for Europeans, Asians, and Arabs). Kenyatta was finally released in August and became president of KANU in October.

Post Colonial History of Kenya

Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

Brief history of Kenya under Jomo Kenyatta

Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession.


Daniel Arap Moi

Brief history of Kenya under Daniel Arap Moi rule

The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people.

Brief history of Kenya under Mwai Kibaki

President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform. KIBAKI's NARC coalition splintered in 2005 over the constitutional review process. Government defectors joined with KANU to form a new opposition coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement, which defeated the government's draft constitution in a popular referendum in November 2005.

President Kibaki came back to power after the highly controversial and bloody 2007 election; and to calm down the violence in the country he had to make a deal brokered by the UN to bring the leader of opposition to a coalition government; this brought back the post of prime minster a position held by Raila Ondinga.

A constitutional referendum was held in Kenya on August 4, 2010 on whether to adopt a proposed new constitution passed by parliament on April 1, 2010 and the yes vote was over 60% of the votes cast. The new constitution is seen as a vital step to avoid a repetition of the violent outbursts after the 2007 presidential election

Return from History of Kenya to About Kenya

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.