The Colonization of Kenya

The British East African Company was granted a charter in 1888, which led to the colonization of present day Kenya.

The British East African Company was granted a charter in 1888, which led to the colonization of present day Kenya. When the company became bankrupt the British government took over administration of the colony which they intended to use a gateway to Uganda, Buganda and Bunyoro because there were no minerals to exploit in Kenya. In order to subdue the colony, the British authorities forcibly took land, introduced forced labor and passed legislation that ensured natives became subjects of the British settlers.

The road to colonization of Kenya was difficult for the British because by the turn of the 20th century Indians outnumbered whites 2:1 and the Indian rupee was Kenya’s main currency. It is reported that there were approximately 23 000 Indians and only 10 000 whites. As a means of consolidating power, the British introduced the hut tax in 1902. A certain amount of taxes was to be paid to the government for each hut a family owned. This meant that native Kenyans had to earn money which could only be achieved by working for someone else that could pay them wages. The punishment for not paying hut tax was a fine and which often when not paid led to forced labor thereby providing the British settlers with the cheap labor they were searching for.

As demand for labor increased, British settlers then introduced poll tax which was required of every citizen in the country. In addition, Kenyans had to work for 60 days a year for the government unless they were already employed by British settlers. This led to the creation of native reservations which were often situated far from major roads and rail and whose soil was not conducive for farming. A lot of measures employed by the British settlers in Kenya were imported from South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).

In 1913, the government passed a land bill that gave the white British settlers 999 year leases on the land and effectively created a monopoly on land use. Later, in 1919 British settlers introduced the Kipande system that required all Kenyan men to wear identity discs similar to the chitupa introduced in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) which limited movement

The Colony and Protectorate of Kenya was established on 11 June 1920 when the territories of the former East Africa Protectorate (except those parts of that Protectorate over which His Majesty the Sultan of Zanzibar had sovereignty) were annexed by the UK. The Kenya Protectorate was established on 13 August 1920 when the territories of the former East Africa Protectorate which were not annexed by the UK were established as a British Protectorate. The Protectorate of Kenya was governed as part of the Colony of Kenya by virtue of an agreement between the United Kingdom and the Sultan dated 14 December 1895.

In the 1920s natives objected to the reservation of the White Highlands for Europeans, especially British war veterans. Bitterness grew between the natives and the Europeans. The population in 1921 was estimated at 2,376,000, of whom 9,651 were Europeans, 22,822 Indians, and 10,102 Arabs. Mombasa, the largest city in 1921, had a population of 32,000 at that time

Native Kenyan labourers were in one of three categories: squatter, contract, or casual.[C] By the end of World War I, squatters had become well established on European farms and plantations in Kenya, with Kikuyu squatters comprising the majority of agricultural workers on settler plantations. An unintended consequence of colonial rule, the squatters were targeted from 1918 onwards by a series of Resident Native Labourers Ordinances—criticised by at least some MPs —which progressively curtailed squatter rights and subordinated native Kenyan farming to that of the settlers. The Ordinance of 1939 finally eliminated squatters’ remaining tenancy rights, and permitted settlers to demand 270 days’ labour from any squatters on their land. and, after World War II, the situation for squatters deteriorated rapidly, a situation the squatters resisted fiercely.

In the early 1920s, though, despite the presence of 100,000 squatters and tens of thousands more wage labourers, there was still not enough native Kenyan labour available to satisfy the settlers’ needs. The colonial government duly tightened the measures to force more Kenyans to become low-paid wage-labourers on settler farms.

You may travel through the length and breadth of Kitui Reserve and you will fail to find in it any enterprise, building, or structure of any sort which Government has provided at the cost of more than a few sovereigns for the direct benefit of the natives.

The place was little better than a wilderness when I first knew it 25 years ago, and it remains a wilderness to-day as far as our efforts are concerned. If we left that district to-morrow the only permanent evidence of our occupation would be the buildings we have erected for the use of our tax-collecting staff.

—Chief Native Commissioner of Kenya, 1925

The colonial government used the measures brought in as part of its land expropriation and labour ‘encouragement’ efforts to craft the third plank of its growth strategy for its settler economy: subordinating African farming to that of the Europeans. Nairobi also assisted the settlers with rail and road networks, subsidies on freight charges, agricultural and veterinary services, and credit and loan facilities. The near-total neglect of native farming during the first two decades of European settlement was noted by the East Africa Commission.

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Development of Banking in Kenya


The financial journey in Kenya dates back to the pre-colonial periods. At first, the pioneering banks concentrated on financing international trade along the Europe-South Africa–India axis. They, however, soon diversified operations to tap the opportunities for profitable banking created by a growing farming settler community and pioneer traders in the local economy to whom they provided deposit and credit facilities. It was only a matter of time for banking to spread into the interior.

It all started with Indian money lenders operating quasi bank services probably as early as the 18th century but the first recognisable bank was Jetha Lila Bankers from India, which was established in Zanzibar in 1880. In 1889 the National Bank of India appointed the trade house of Smith Mackenzie to be their agent in Zanzibar. Smith Mackenzie had a Mombasa branch in 1887 which was taken over by the Imperial British East Africa (IBEA) in 1888.  The National Bank of India established its own office in Zanzibar in 1892. In July 1896 the National Bank of India established a branch in Mombasa renting premises from Sheriff Jaffer. The spread continued to 1904 when they opened a branch in Nairobi.  




Photographs by the Kenya Information Office.


Apologies in advance to all, in case there is any derogatory language used by Mr Arthur Phillips, and thus in case it offends any individual, these articles are an extract from a 1946 historic book.

People of colour are usually seen or made to feel that their ancestral back ground were hardly structurally incapable of being in a society or were somewhat back ward.

Since, victors always write their own version of history, it is never the less observable to witness what Africa has had to offer in terms of its artefacts in many different forms of its history, that stands as an indorsement to this very day.

Fast forwarding to the free for all Europeans “ Scramble for Africa”: Berlin Conference of 1884-85 that kicked off and offloaded, plunderers, raiders, rustlers that were backed by many European governments, since Africa was under illegal occupation and many of it’s infrastructures destroyed to make way for the so called “New World”.

The Cultural, ethics, integrity, beliefs, principles had somewhat eroded through time, but can still be witnessed to this day in many cities, towns, villages, rural areas...etc.

This is a historical tale or documentation that has lingered for many many years, of such small/large administrative hearing amongst its own people, a judicial process in dealing with many different disparities amongst its society at large, that we now call it “the court”…

In a sense, the native tribunals existing today in the tribal areas are the lineal descendants of the pre-existing indigenous judicial bodies.

There is probably no other branch of public affairs in Kenya in which there has been such a great devolution of responsibility to Africans as in the administration of justice. Many people would doubtless be surprised to learn how extensive are powers granted to native tribunals. In a recent case in which the claim was for £200 in connection with the dissolution of a business partnership, it was desired magistrate’s court, but it was found that even a First Class Magistrate had no jurisdic­tion to try a case involving such a large sum of money. The only court, other than a native tribunal, which was competent to try the case was the Supreme Court.

In the vast majority of cases in which Africans go to law with one another it is to a tribunal of their fellow-Africans that they must look for the determination of their rights. The Tribunals’ powers of adjudication, moreover, are not confined to civil disputes. They are authorised to try a wide range of criminal offences and to award punishments, including imprison-for a period up to six, and in some cases twelve months.

A Very large percentage of the criminal cases arising in the “native reserves” are tried by native tribunals. What is the origin and history of these tribunals? How are they constituted? What form of procedure do they adopt? What kind of records do they keep? What law do they administer? What control is exercised over them and—perhaps the most frequently-asked question of all—what are their standards of efficiency and integrity? I can do no more in this article than deal with these questions in the briefest outline.


In a sense, the native tribunals existing today in the tribal areas are the lineal descendants of the pre-existing indigenous judicial bodies. At an early stage in the history of the East Africa Protectorate legal recognition was given to the jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, of the “Courts” of certain tribal “Chiefs and Elders.” The Native Courts Regulations, 1897, laid down the policy with regard to such Courts as follows: —

“The Sub-Commissioner and Collector shall exercise in their administrative capacity all reasonable supervision within their power over the procedure and punishments used by the tribal authorities . . . but shall not disallow or unduly interfere with their orders and punishments unless such orders or punishments are essentially inhuman or unjust, as, for example, where convictions are obtained by witchcraft or torture or entail barbarous penalties such as mutilation, cruel corporal punishment, or the enslavement of a condemned person or his relatives.”

The type of “Court” which was thus accorded legal recognition differed, of course, fundamentally from the modern European conception of a Court of Law. It was more in the nature of a family or clan council. It must be remembered that most Kenya tribes—as distinct from many tribes in other parts of Africa, e.g., the Baganda—possessed no centralised political organisation. The rudiments of government in these primitive communities seem to have manifested themselves not so much in the exercise of political authority by a definite person or body of persons over a certain territory as in the maintenance of equilibrium between the various lineage groups.

In most tribes, therefore, the indigenous system of justice was very fluid; there appears to have been no standing judicial body; disputes were adjudicated upon by ad hoc councils of elders, usually within the framework of clan relationships; the composition of the judicial body was liable to vary with the nature and importance of each individual case; and the sanction behind its decisions was the solidarity of the group. The only step in the direction of an organised judicial system was the recognition of certain elders as traditionally qualified to participate in adjudication and this recognition was based to a large extent on their seniority in the social unit.

Institutions of this type could hardly be expected to survive unchanged in association with the new “set-up” resulting from the establishment of a strong central government with overriding authority. It was found, in particular, that the official “headmen” appointed by the Government—who generally represented a new and alien institution in tribal society—tended to exert an unduly dominant influence over the tribunals; and efforts were made (e.g., by Sir Percy Girouard about 1911) to restore and reinforce the authority of the elders and to make the tribunals conform more closely to the indigenous pattern.

The subsequent course of events suggested, however, that the necessity for development and reorganisation on more modern lines was inescapable. That is not to say that in the early stages this process was very rapid. The condition of the native tribunals shortly before the last war may be illustrated by a case reported in the East African Law Reports for the year 1913. A Kikuyu “Kiama” had tried, sentenced and executed certain persons who were suspected of practising witchcraft.

The condemned men had been placed in a hut and then relatives had been compelled to set fire to it. The Kiama elders, fifty-four in number, were tried for murder. The Supreme Court held that they had acted in good faith, believing that they were entitled to exercise “the powers which they had had from the beginning of things.” The elders were found guilty, therefore, of a lesser offence than murder, and each of them was sentenced to one day’s imprisonment and a fine of fifty rupees.




After the last war it was increasingly realised that the tribunals, if left to their own resources, would be incapable of adjusting themselves satisfactorily to changing conditions. A policy of closer supervision was adopted, and this led inevitably to measures of re-organisation which often involved a considerable departure from the pattern of indigenous institutions.

During the last twenty years development in the direction of a modernised system of courts has proceeded apace, particularly in the Kavirondo and Kikuyu districts. Among the main features of this process have been the establishment of standing judicial bodies with a fixed personnel; reduction of the number of tribunals by amalgamating small local units and centralising jurisdiction in a “divisional” tribunal on a territorial basis; drastic reduction of the number of elders sitting on each tribunal; the provision of modern-style court-houses; and the creation of a hierarchy of authorities empowered to hear appeals. Another change introduced in comparatively recent years was the exclusion of Government “Chiefs” from the tribunals, in accordance with the principles of the separation of executive and judicial powers.

Two other noteworthy features of the present system must be mentioned. Firstly, for all practical purposes the native  tribunal system is independent of the Supreme Court and is entirely controlled by the officers of. the Provincial Administra­tion.

Secondly, advocates and legal practitioners are debarred from appearing before a native tribunal, or before a District Officer or Provincial Commissioner on the hearing of an appeal from a native tribunal. The legislation imposing these conditions was introduced in 
1930, and, although of a somewhat contro­versial nature, it was supported by the then Attorney-General on account of the necessity for protecting Africans against certain dangers and abuses which had already begun to manifest them­selves—in particular, an excess of technicality in procedure and exploitation by lawyers’ touts.

A further step in the same direction was taken in 1942, when an Ordinance was passed which had the effect of removing native land cases entirely from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and making it obligatory for such cases to be filed in a native tribunal. (In all other classes of cases, Africans are legally entitled to institute proceedings in one of the ordinary courts of the Colony, rather than in a native tribunal, if they so desire.)


There are now approximately 140 native tribunals in Kenya. In the majority of districts the number of members sitting on such tribunal is from five to ten; but of these a certain proportion usually consists of members drawn from a panel, who serve in rotation for a few months at a time. The method of selecting elders for appointment to the tribunals varies considerably. African opinion is normally consulted, sometimes by means of elections (though this method has been abandoned in many districts as unsatisfactory for the purpose of judicial appointments). The final selection usually rests with the District Commissioner. The latter’s recommendations are submitted to the Provincial Commissioner, who issues the warrant establishing, the tribunal and prescribing its powers.


In an article of this kind it is not easy to avoid misleading generalisations. It must, therefore, be stressed that among the large number of existing native tribunals there is a very great diversity, attributable to such factors as environment, stage of civilisation and tribal characteristics. In one district, the elders may be found squatting under a tree, scarcely distinguishable from the crowd which surrounds them, while in the centre of the group the disputing parties argue their case with much clamour and gesticulation. In another district, the tribunal sits in a permanent building with a raised bench, witness-box. and all the panoply of a modern court.


The amount of business conducted varies greatly, and it is interesting to note that to a large extent these variations correspond with racial differences. The Bantu are everywhere the most litigious. In South Kavirondo, for instance, the Kisii (a Bantu tribe) are responsible for far more litigation than their more numerous Nilotic neighbours the Luo: while the Luo in their turn are more addicted to going to law than the Nandi or the Masai—tribes with a Hamitic strain. Among the more litigious tribes the “appeal habit” tends to be carried to extremes, with the result that the same case is sometimes heard by four different courts in succession, viz., tribunal of first instance, appeal tribunal, District Officer and Provincial Commissioner. As an indication of the volume of judicial business conducted by native tribunals in the larger districts, it may be mentioned that in 1942 the total number of cases heard and decided by the tribunals of the three Kavirondo districts was 39,590.

In civil cases, the majority of claims are founded on native law and custom and relate to such matters as stock transactions, bride-price, custody of wives and children and (of special importance nowadays) land tenure. Actions for the recovery of cash debts are numerous, however, and there is an increasing amount of litigation of a “non-indigenous” character, ie.. disputes concerning partnership, rent, hire of chattels, sale of goods, money- lending, and business contracts of various kinds-for which native law and custom affords little or no precedent.


With regards to criminal jurisdiction, the tribunals are empowered to administer a great variety of statutory enactments, including parts of the Penal Code and many other Ordinances, Rules and Regulations. In addition to trying cases of theft and assault and other offences against person and property, the tribunals are largely responsible for the enforcement of legisla­tion and of administrative orders on such subjects as the conserva­tion of soil, water and timber; grass fires; control of intoxicating liquor; public health; witchcraft; tax collection; communal work on roads, etc., etc. The bulk of their criminal work falls within these categories, but there are still a certain number of cases which are classed under the heading of “offences against native law and custom,” the most noteworthy instance being prosecutions for adultery. Convictions and sentences in criminal cases are normally treated as being subject to confirmation by a District Officer; and, in addition, monthly returns of criminal cases have to be submitted to the Attorney-General.


Many tribunal elders—probably the majority—are illiterate; but each tribunal has a clerk who receives the fees and keeps a register of cases, showing the names of the parties, the cause of action and the tribunal’s decision. In one or two tribunals an attempt has been made to keep fuller records of the proceedings, including notes of the evidence.


The mode of procedure adopted in the hearing of cases varies greatly, but in the more advanced districts there is a tendency towards greater formality and in some tribunals the procedure is beginning to approximate to that of a European magistrate’s court. Although there is a growing appreciation of the need for proof by means of proper evidence (including documentary evidence where it is appropriate), it is still a common practice for the elders to fall back on the use of native oaths for the purpose of determining issues of fact. Trial by ordeal, however, is a thing of the past.


Does the quality of the justice administered in the native tribunals warrant the policy of investing them with such con­siderable powers? Is the Government justified in giving them the backing of its own authority and allowing them to exercise those powers in the name of British justice? Is the government justified in giving them the backing of its own authority and allowing them to exercise those powers in the name of British justice?

It is impossible, without over-simplification, to answer these questions in a few words. It may be stated, however, that from the outset the Government’s policy has been based on the recognition of existing native law and custom and on the assumption that the encouragement of an evolutionary process of development is preferable to a “steam-roller” policy of modernisation.

In addition, it is relevant to ask, is there really any practicable alternative to the existing system?

While it will be readily admitted by those who know them that the native tribunals have many imperfections it may fairly be claimed that the history of their development during the last fifteen years (i.e., since the present Native Tribunals Ordinance became law) shows a record of substantial progress towards greater efficiency and (in some districts at any rate) a higher standard of judicial integrity. It is probably true to say on the whole, the tribunals accurately reflect the stage of advancement of African society in their respective districts.

If the existence of the native tribunals is to be justified on these grounds, the need for further and rapid improvement must of course, be accepted as a necessary corollary. In pursuance of this objective, special measures of investigation and planning have been instituted. Among the subjects under examination are the machinery of the tribunal system (with particular reference to the appellate authorities); its relation to the judicial system of the Colony as a whole; the qualifications, selection and training of African personnel; the provision of additional supervisory staff; the improvement of the tribunals’ records; and special problems such as those connected with criminal jurisdiction and with the establishment of native tribunals in towns mid other non-tribal areas. All these subjects require careful and specialised study.


Perhaps the most important and complex problems of all however, are those relating to the evolution of native law. In certain fields (e.g., land tenure, marriage, succession) there is an urgent need for the adaptation of customary law to rapidly changing conditions in others (e.g, in the field of “ commercial law” new principles and rules have to be incorporated into the body of the administered by the tribunals.


It is, moreover, hardly to be expected that a purely unwritten law will provide a satisfactory basis for the organisation of African society in the future; hence it may be necessary before long to undertake the recording of native law.


In the handling of these problems it will be of prime importance to reconcile the requirements of a simple, cheap and expeditious system of justice, adapted to African needs, with the English constitutional principle of the “Rule of Law” on which the legal system of Kenya is based.

History of Kenya


If one really needs to establish what the Indian community were all about in terms of East African history, well it goes well beyond East Africa, in fact history of the Indians is only concentrated in the East African Region seen as a core/hub for trading and thus for obvious reasons, due to major trading factors along the Eastern Coast of Africa.


Indians and Arab history recorded in that region dates back many centuries, the initial levy system was introduced by the Portuguese much later on and also by the British in the 1900's, which was hated by the Arabs and Indians alike.


Indians had a hand in everything along the East African Coast, trading in their own Currency, Financial/banking system was operated by the Indians, transport, trades carried out over the waters as far as India and beyond, Distribution, Wholesale, Retailing, Farming, Transport Inlands, etc. Indians and Arabs who built up century’s worth of historic trade in the region were systematically targeted and stripped off as time went by, by the colonial government.


The Indians were great traders in many aspects and business, in 1910 Sir John Kirk remarked on the work of Indian Traders in Nairobi: In fact drive away the Indians and you may as well shut up the Protectorate. It is only by means of the Indian Trader that articles of European use can be obtained at moderate prices.

Winston Churchill in “My African Journey”: It is by Indian labour that the one vital railway on which everything else depends was constructed.


In most European’s minds the Indians simply did not matter. When writing of East African history in general, the role of Indians is ignored or slighted. It is the British that get the credit for ‘pluck and determination’ building the Railways even when it is admitted that Indians suffered untold horrors. 


Most if not all prime geographical areas were also chosen for themselves (Europeans) and area controlled by the British Europeans for the Europeans. The lack of information about Indians is due not only to the non-Indians’ disinterest (and often hostility). It is due also to the Indians’ own lack of Interest in writing about themselves. 


The question is, we had the British Colony at that time in India and were happy to oblige with the building of East Africa in terms of labour, therefore why is it that most of the Indian people who came over who had farming experiences were never given any sort of land to farm in East Africa but the British government opted for South African Caucasians to be brought over with a premise on allocation of prime free land? 


Mombasa was visited by the unknown Greek who wrote the Vtriplus in the first century A.D., who refers to it under the name of Tonike.

Arab colonisation of the East Coast is believed to have begun about the eighth century. The Portuguese first appeared on the coast when Vasco da Gama passed along it in 1498 on his way to India, and during the following century they succeeded in firmly establishing their power, and ruled with the aid of tributary Arab sultans.


Mombasa was occupied by the Portuguese early in the sixteenth century, and the great Port of Jesus was commenced there in 1592. It was wrested from them by the Arabs in 1698 after a siege of thirty- three months, and has been the scene of much bitter fighting, and has several times changed hands.


Until East Africa was partitioned amongst the European Powers towards the end of the last century, most of the coast came under the rule of the Sultan of Zanzibar, and the trade at Mombasa, Zanzibar and Bagamoyo, the principal ports, was controlled mainly by British and Indian merchants.


In 1877, Sultan Bargash offered to Sir William Mackinnon, Chairman of the British India Lino (or to a Company to be formed by him), a concession under lease for seventy years of the customs and adminis­tration of the whole of the dominions of Zanzibar, including all rights of sovereignty, with certain reservations in respect of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands. Mackinnon found, however, that he could not obtain the support of the British Foreign Office, and therefore declined the offer.

Joseph Thomson, author of Through Masai-land, was the first European to visit the Highlands of Kenya (in 1883). He was followed in 1885 by Hannington, first Anglican Bishop of East Africa.


In 1884, Sir H. H. Johnston obtained concessions from chiefs in the Kilimanjaro region, and later in the same year German agents secured concessions in the same area. The British Government raised no objection to the German acquisition, but put forward claims of its own to the hinterland of Mombasa.


A provisional agreement between the British and German Governments in 1886 determined the boundaries of the mainland territories of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Other frontier agreements were made with Germany in 1890 and 1893, and with Italy in 1891, fixing the boundaries of their respective spheres of interest.

In 1887, Sultan Bargash granted a concession for fifty years to a company formed by Mackinnon, first known as the British East Africa Association, which covered his mainland possessions not falling within the German sphere. This territory, which extends ten miles inland, is now known as the Kenya Protectorate, and the Sultan of Zanzibar receives an annuity for it.

In April, 1888, the founders of the British East Africa Association formed themselves into a Company, the Imperial British East Africa Company, with a capital of £240,000. A Royal Charter was granted the following September.


While efforts to secure territory in East Africa by German Companies and individuals received the backing of the German Government, the Imperial British East Africa Company carried on unaided its burden of national responsibility up to the end of 1890. The capital was quite inadequate for the scope of its undertakings, and a large part of this had been used up in costs of military operations in Uganda.


They sustained a further heavy loss when, in 1892, the British Government declared that the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar came within the free trade zone under the Congo Basin Treaty. The Company’s dues were thus swept away, but their rent and administrative expenses had still to be paid. Sir William Mackinnon, who had been the Company’s moving spirit throughout, died in June, 1893. In 1895 the British Government finally agreed to purchase the Company’s rights for £250,000.


Although the Company proved a commercial failure, involving its shareholders in loss, the promoters were mainly animated by motives of patriotism, and a desire for the abolition of the slave trade and better­ment of the native peoples.

From 1 July, 1895, the Foreign Office assumed responsibility for the Company’s territory ; a commissioner was appointed ; and the name was changed to the East African Protectorate. Hitherto the Territory was usually referred to as “ Ibea,” from the initials of the Company.


The railway from the coast to Lake Victoria was undertaken by the British Government in 1895 at their own expense. Lord Salisbury’s decision to carry out this work was based on his desire to suppress the slave trade and to provide access to the headwaters of the Nile. It was completed from Mombasa to the Lake in 1901.

The length of the line from Mombasa to Kisumu is 577 m. compared with 703 m. by the old caravan route. It ascends to 8,322 ft., and descends again to 3,726 ft., the level of Lake Victoria.


A considerable amount of Indian labour had been used in the construction of the railways, and some thousands of Indians remained in the country.


The first applications for land were made in 1902, and the following year hundreds of settlers began to arrive. Among them were men of good standing from England, and Lord Delamere, who was one of the first, became the leader of the European immigrants in East Africa. Many of the settlers were Butch and English-speaking South Africans.

In 1905, the Territory’s administration was transferred to the Colonial Office.

In 1906, in view of the increasing number of European settlers, a nominated Legislative Council was set up on which seats were given to their representatives.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as the Duke and Duchess of York, visited Kenya in 1924.


In 1914-18, Kenya was the base for operations against German East Africa; in 1940-41 against Somalia and Ethiopia; and in 1942 against Madagascar. After each war there was a considerable influx of British settlers as farmers or technicians, and Indian artisans and tradesmen.


The Visit of H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh, who were staying at Sagana Lodge, Kenya, was interrupted by the death of H.M. King George VI on 6 Feb. 1952.


In 1959 H.M. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visited Kenya.

Mau Mau Terrorist Activities:—Though a State of Emergency was declared by the Kenya Government in 1952, as a result of widespread outrages attributable to the Mau Mau organisation and was still in force up to the end of 1959, conditions had in fact improved very considerably, and the State of Emergency was ended.


In January, 1960, the Emergency Powers Ordinance was repealed and the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance came into force immediately thereafter.


1 Aug. 1961. Release of Jomo Kenyatta.


Recent Governors.

1944. Sir P. E. Mitchell, G.C.M.G., M.C.

1952. Sir Evelyn Baring, G.G.M.G., K.C.V.O.

1959. Sir Patrick Renison, K.C.M.G.

The Tragedy of Individualizing the Commons

The Outcome of Subdividing the Maasai Pastoralist Group Ranches in Kajiado District, Kenya.

Dr Marcel Rutten (African Studies Centre - Leiden)

The Tragedy of Individualizing the Commons The Outcome of Subdividing the Maasai Pastoralist Group Ranches in Kajiado District, Kenya
This article is based on research carried out in early 1990 among the Maasai pastoralists of the Kajiado District, Kenya (see figure 1). The survey has foremost been a review of the Maasai pastoralists use and ownership of land from a geographer's perspective, while taking into account ecological, economical, and socio-cultural aspects. The process and consequences of the individualization of land ownership in the Maasai area as it developed over the last century has been studied and special attention has been given to the effects of the subdivision of group ranches started in 1986.
Land Treaty The Tragedy of Individualizi[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [2.6 MB]



Immigration, Income Tax Ivory

The Colony and Protectorate is bounded on the east by Somalia and the Indian Ocean ; on the north by Ethiopia ; on the north-west by the Sudan ; on the west by the Uganda Protectorate and Lake Victoria ; and on the south by Tanganyika Territory.


This territory was formerly known as the British East Africa Protectorate. In July, 1920, the Protectorate, except for the portion under the dominion of the Sultan of Zanzibar, was declared to be a Crown Colony under the title of Kenya Colony.

Kenya Protectorate consists of the mainland dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, being a strip of land extending ten miles inland along the coast from the Tanganyika border to Kipini, together with the islands of the Lamu Archipelago. In respect of this area, the Sultan receives an annuity of £10,000.


Nairobi is the Capital of the Colony and Protectorate and the chief port is Mombasa.

The name Kenya is taken from the native name for Mount Kenya, Kilinyaa, meaning the White Mountain.


Administration.—The Colony and Protectorate are administered under the Colonial Office by a Governor.


Under the Constitution Order in Council of 30th November, 1960, the general terms of which were agreed at the Constitutional Conference of 1960, Legislative Council is composed of a Speaker, appointed by the Governor on the Queen’s instructions received through a Secretary of State, fifty-three Constituency Members elected on a common roll, twelve National Members elected by the Constituency Members, four official Ministers, and a number of Members nominated by the Governor in pursuance of instructions given to him by the Queen through a Secre­tary of State.


The General Election took place in Feb., 1961, and the Governor subsequently appointed 12 Nominated Members. Of the fifty-three constituency seats, ten are reserved for Europeans, three for Asian Muslims, five for Asian non-Muslims, and two for Arabs. Of the twelve national seats, four are African, four European, one Asian Muslim, two other Asian and one Arab.


A British subject or British protected person over 21 who is literate in any language or is over 40, or has an annual income of £75, or has property valued at £200, or is one of any number of wives of a person with an annual income of £75 or property valued at £200, or holds one of a number of scheduled offices can register as a voter. Over 1,300,000 persons registered as voters for the General Election.


General Election.—A general election took place in February, 1961. The Legislature comprises ten seats reserved for Europeans, five for Asians not of the Muslim faith, three for Asians of the Muslim faith and two for Arabs. In addition there are thirty-three open seats and twelve seats for “ national ” members elected by the fifty-three con­stituency members.


Candidates for the reserved seats participated in primary elections during January to ascertain if they enjoyed a reasonable degree of support from members of their own race or creed. Successful candidates then contested a further election at which electors of all races were entitled to vote.


At the general election in February voting took place in thirty-five of the forty-four constituencies into which the Colony was divided, there being nine unopposed returns. The polling period passed without incident and African candidates were successful in all but one of the open seats, thus achieving a majority in the Legislature.


Kenya’s “ Framework ” Constitution.—The Kenya Constitutional Conference in London, Feb./Apr. 1962, ended with the signing by almost all of the delegates of the Colonial Secretary’s paper setting out a “ framework ” constitution for Kenya. Mr. Maudling’s proposals included provision for an impartial and independent judiciary and a Bill of Rights guaranteeing the proper protection of individuals which should be enforceable in the courts.


There would be two chambers in the Parliament. The Lower House would be elected by universal adult suffrage and based on single-member constituencies. The Upper House would consist of one member from each of the existing districts. Consideration should also be given to the inclusion in the Upper House of non-voting members representing special interests.


There should be a strong and effective Central Government responsible to the Central Parliament, which would be responsible for a very wide range of activities. Subject to the foregoing, there should be the maximum possible decentralisation of the powers of government to effective authorities capable of a life and significance of their own, entrenched in the constitution and drawing their being and power from the constitution and not from the Central Government.


Six Regional Assemblies would be established. The Regions would have administrative powers some of which would be exclusively reserved

 to the regions and entrenched in the constitution. Other administrative powers, including administration of Central Government functions, would be delegated by agreement with the Central Government. In some matters the Regional Assemblies would have exclusive powers of enactment having the force of law. In other matters they would have either concurrent powers or powers of making byelaws.


Control of land transactions outside the present scheduled areas should be vested in the appropriate tribal authorities. The constitution would also establish a Central Land Board with sole responsibility for the formulation and implementation of settlement schemes in the settled areas.


The Central Government would be responsible for the Armed Forces and the ultimate sanction of law and order, but the day to day responsi­bility for law and order within each region would rest with the National Assembly.


Formation of Coalition Government.—Details of the constitution based on this framework will be settled by the Kenya Coalition Government in discussion with H.M. Government. The Coalition Government has been formed also to increase national confidence and unity and to continue good government.


The formation of the Coalition Government, which will be led by the Governor, has been completed in Nairobi by the Acting Governor of Kenya, Mr. E. N. Griffith-Jones. The size of the Council of Ministers has been increased to 16. The Governor has agreed with the leaders of the two African political parties that the two official Ministers now responsible for the portfolios of Legal Affairs and Defence, Mr. A. M. F. Webb and Sir Anthony Swann, should retain these portfolios. It has also been agreed that Mr. Ronald G. Ngala (KADU) and Mr. Jomo Kenyatta (KANU) will be respectively Minister of State with responsi­bility for Constitutional Affairs (in liaison with the Governor’s Office) and for the Administration; and Minister of State with responsibility for Constitutional Affairs (in liaison with the Governor’s Office) and for Economic Planning.


As soon as possible after these details had been settled and the neces­sary instruments for an internal self-government constitution had been made, a general election would be held and that constitution would be introduced. Certain steps, such as registration of voters and delimitation of the Regional boundaries, could and would be taken before these details were finally settled. Thereafter further negotiations would be needed on arrangements for full independence, which Her Majesty’s Government reaffirm to be their aim for Kenya.


A council of State was formed in 1958, with powers of delay and revision to protect any one community against discriminatory legislation harmful to its interests. It has been continued under the new Constitu­tion. It consists of a Chairman, and ten members nominated by the Governor and drawn from all races in Kenya. Four hold office for 10 years, three for 7 years, and three for 4 years.

A considerable measure of local self-government is exercised by the African District Councils, of which there are 33. There are Municipalities K.A.N.U. = Kenya African National Union.


Mau Mau: Black My StoryLike Page

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When the Europeans arrived in Kenya about a hundred years ago they saw a beautiful country overshadowed by a great snow peaked mountain. The Africans living around this mountain called it Kirinyaga (the ostrich mountain). The newcomers renamed the mountain and called it Mt. Kenya from which the country's name is derived.

The climate was good and the land was fertile. There was plenty of water from the hundreds of rivers which flowed through the land of Kirinyaga. The soil, wetted by the country's plentiful rainfall, could support all types of agriculture. There were forests where the Africans obtained their firewood, and grasslands where they grazed their cattle, sheep and goats. African settlements were scattered all over the countryside, from the Indian Ocean coast to the shores of the "great lake". Here they cultivated their crops, cherished and enjoyed a civilization of their own.

At first the number of European settlers in the country was small. The colonial government was doing all it could to bring in more white settlers. Very attractive terms for the granting of African land to the settlers were put forward. An acre of the best fertile land in the Highland plains was sold as cheaply as two shillings and fifty cents. Land was leased to the settlers for periods of 99 years or rented a hundred acres at the rate of twenty shillings every year..

With total disregard of the Africans, the Europeans started alienating huge tracts of land. Thousands of square miles of Kikuyu land in Kiambu, Mweiga in northern Nyeri and in the Rift Valley were taken away. The Masai were evicted from the whole of Laikipia and their grazing land confiscated. The confiscated lands formed what was called the "White Highlands" which were under the exclusive use of the Europeans. Their former rightful owners were thrown out and the forests where they obtained firewood and building materials were declared forest reserves. Before long the newcomers, a privileged minority group of not more than 9,000 Europeans, had the exclusive rights to nearly 17,000 square miles of the country's fertile lands.

In 1915 the Crown Land Ordinance Act was passed. This made all Africans "tenants at the will of the Crown". This meant that Africans no longer had any legal rights to the lands they occupied. Land title deeds could not be issued to them. The Kikuyu, who were the most affected felt very insecure on the inadequate small pieces of land they occupied. They could be evicted any time to make room for white settlement. Their future was very unpredictable.

The majority of the African male population, nearly 60%, remained unemployed. The limited land could no longer support them. They wandered aimlessly and became casual labourers in the towns. Hundreds of Kikuyu families became squatters on their former lands. They provided cheap unskilled labour on which the European farms depended. The majority of the tribe lived in overcrowded land units which the colonialists called "Native Reserves". Here they were not supposed to grow cash crops or keep grade cattle. They were required to engage purely on subsistence agriculture.. Grown up African men were referred to as "boys". When called upon they were supposed to give respectable replies; "yes madam" and "Bwana" (Master). This was extended even to employers' children.

In politics the African had no say whatsoever on how the country was administered. The settler government started indirect rule by introducing a system of paramount chiefs in Kikuyu country, which never existed before. They were not in any way people's representatives. People regarded them as the white man's stooges who stood by and "let the land go".

The country's political and economic fabric was purely European controlled. The Africans were regarded as number four. Second to the Europeans in the hierarchy were the Asians. The Arabs came third in this Apartheid form of government. Priorities were given on the basis of colour. An African's black skin hindered him from mixing, eating or travelling with the white skinned dominant communities. "We are hated because we are black and we are not of the white race", the Africans said.

The colonial government was determined to force the Africans into extinction as a race, beginning with the Kikuyu who occupied much of the land they desired to have. The administration introduced "slave labour" to consume the energy of the Africans. Men, women and children were forced to dig trenches on the land they occupied.

Likewise European Missionaries introduced the second type of oppression. The early missionaries arrived in the country holding a gun in the right hand and the Bible in the left hand. Their primary objective was to use their Christian Religion for the pacification of the Africans. They wanted to make the African drunk with religion while his land was being taken away. Missionaries begun attacking and condemning the African civilization that they found. They started destroying the fabric of society and the very roots on which it was founded. Everything African, their customs and rites were branded as primitive and heathen.

The Kikuyu customary rite of female circumcision was on top of the agenda. It was described as heathen and barbaric. Kikuyus who refused to denounce the custom were not allowed to pray in churches nor would circumcised girls be allowed in mission schools.

Polygamy was rejected outright. Those who had married more than one wife and wished to become church members were supposed to denounce and throw away all but one of their wives.

All tribal songs and dances could not be tolerated. Nor could the customary mode of dress be allowed by the church.

By 1921 the Africans could have no more of it. In that year the first political party in Kenya was formed. It was called the Young Kikuyu Association (YKA). It was headed by a young Kikuyu, Harry Thuku, a Government telephone operator. The YKA did not last long and in 1922 Harry Thuku organized another party called the East African Association (EAA) whose aim was to unite all tribes in Kenya to form a strong front to forward African grievances. One of the major grievances was the return of the "stolen lands" and the reduction of the African wages. Their wages had been cut by nearly a third while their hut tax and poll tax had been increased. The Association protested over the Kipande system. Kipande was a labour registration system where adult African males were fingerprinted and issued with identification and employment cards. Bearers were required by law to carry these documents wherever they went. Failure to do so resulted in arrest and imprisonment.

Harry Thuku accused the Europeans of "stealing land" from the Africans and attacked the missionaries for teaching the untrue word of God. He urged the Africans to refuse to work for Europeans to force them to leave the country. He called on all Africans to discard their kipandes and throw them in front of Government House, Nairobi. The government was afraid of Thuku's political sentiments. He was arrested on March 15, 1922, detained and deported on charges of being "dangerous to peace and good order". The Association was subsequently banned.

The Association did not die out but continued to operate "underground". In 1926 it emerged in the name of the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA). It called among other things for the African to be allowed to plant commercial crops such as coffee, elected representation in the Legislative Council and education for the African children. Two years later it started its vernacular newspaper Muigwithania (Unifier). In 1928 Jomo Kenyatta became its secretary.

The formation of the KCA was followed behind by the sudden emergence in around 1926 of a new Kikuyu political ballad known as Muthirigu. The new song and dance became a political anthem of the KCA in later years. Its tune had been adopted from coast dances and because of its rousing chorus it became very popular and spread rapidly in Kikuyu land. The song's unlimited number of verses projected the frustrations, humiliations and sufferings of the Kikuyu caused by the Europeans. By 1930 it began challenging the colonial government and accused the tribal chiefs of being "bribed with uncircumcised girls so that the land may go". Other verses in the song were sung in praise of leaders of the KCA. On the whole the song lamented the eroding away of the Kikuyu customs and at the same time looked forward to the day when the white man would be conquered. The government, fearing the tense atmosphere created among the Kikuyu by the new song banned it in 1930.

The administration accused the dancers of using spears and simis in the dancing. Heavy fines were imposed on anybody found singing it. In any case, the song did not die out completely but continued as an anthem of resistance. Its rousing chorus lives to this day and the song features prominently in present day tribal dances.

The issue of female circumcision first came into being in 1929 when European missionaries began denouncing it and attempted to eradicate it. Leaders of the KCA protested over their people's customary rites. The missionaries were obstinate. Majority of the Kikuyu population protested over the mission's act of banning them from schools and churches, and threw their support behind Jomo Kenyatta and other KCA leaders.

This controversy divided the Kikuyu into two hostile camps each opposing the validity of the other's argument. The two groups played a major role in later years during the State of Emergency when the war of liberation was at its highest. Each took up arms to fight the other. Those who supported the Church's view became the loyalists and strong opponents of the Mau Mau freedom fighters.

During this period, a few and very influential Kikuyus signed a church petition expressing their full allegiance and loyalty with the missionaries. They were referred to as kirore (thumb print) i.e. those who signed the document.

Another group of 'die hard' Kikuyu, and by far the majority, refused to sign the document and upheld female circumcision. They accused the missionaries and especially the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM) of preaching the word of the devil. Those were called the Kikuyu Karing'a (pure Kikuyu).

The Church's struggle with the tribal elders resulted into the formation of the African Church and the African Independent Pentecostal Church. In order to secure education for their children, the Kikuyu, through a nationwide voluntary collection of funds, established their own schools.

Two groups of schools were started, the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association and the Kikuyu Karing'a Education Association. To supply teachers to their schools the Kenya Teachers' College was established at Githunguri, in Kiambu. Jomo Kenyatta who led the religious and educational breakaway left the country in 1931 and did not return until 1946.

After gaining some considerable following KCA was declared an illegal society in 1940. Twenty of its leaders were arrested and imprisoned, its headquarters closed and Muigwithania banned. It was however driven "underground" where it continued to operate during the Second World War period.

The end of the war saw the establishment of more parties namely Kenya African Study Union (KASU) with Harry Thuku as President, followed in 1946 by the Kenya African Union (KAU), among others. Jomo Kenyatta was elected President of KAU in 1947, shortly after his return. With Kenyatta on the chair many more Africans joined the party than ever before. All the major tribes were represented and the party leadership could rightly claim to speak on behalf of the entire African population. With the use of its newspaper, Sauti ya Mwafrika (the African Voice) and other vernacular newspapers the party spread its political gospel far and wide. KAU meetings presided by Kenyatta drew far greater crowds than ever before.

Through Kenyatta's initiative the Independent Churches and schools expanded rapidly. The KCA leaders who had continued to work "underground" during the World War years joined KAU but continued to retain their own identity. Already they were pessimistic of reaching democratic reforms and African independence through constitutional means and were now considering alternatives. Their aim and only hope was to establish a strong unity and coherence among the Kikuyu tribe and to use force on the colonial government if other means to the solution of their grievances failed. All their activities were hidden under the wing of KAU.

In 1947 a very militant group headed by very young men emerged. It was called the Forty Group (Riika ria 40) or "anake a forty". They were the young men who had been circumcised in 1940. These were ex-servicemen who had fought either in the Burma forest, India or Madagascar during the Second World War. They had returned home with a lot of experience of the outside world. Soon after, they found themselves without employment and without land. Their European counterparts had been rewarded for their services with big farms in Kenya as retirement benefits.

Men of the "Forty Group" became the most politically militant and committed men. They no longer could accept the government's oppressive measures. They denounced trench digging which was going on in the "reserves". The Group threatened to take up arms against the government if KAU's demands were not met. Their activities were centred in Nairobi but their following stretched deep into Nyeri, Fort Hall (Murang'a), Kiambu and the Rift Valley areas.

Samuel Mwangi, the treasurer of the Forty Group gave an indication of what the group was when he said: "The Forty Group is manned by 2,000 men who are ready to tear to pieces anyone who is spoiling their district and revealing their secrets. We have so far done wonders and we shall continue to do much more in the future." ...


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Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta was born Kamau Wa Ngengi at Ng'enda village, Gatundu Division, Kiambu in 1889. He was the son of Muigai and Wambui.In 1896 his father died and Wambui was inherited by Muigai's younger brother Ngengi.That is the union through which James Muigai, Kamau's half-brother was born. Kamau's mother later returned to her parents where she died. Kamau moved from Ng'enda for Muthiga to live with his grandfather Kingu wa Magana who was a fortune teller and medicine man. He took interest in Agikuyu culture and customs and used to assist his grandfather in the practice of medicine.


Celebrating our African historical personalities, discoveries, achievements and eras as proud people with rich culture, traditions and enlightenment spanning many years.


Connecting with Kenyan history.

Here is the person who designed the Kenyan National flag, the coat of arms, and the Presidential standard just before Kenya was granted internal rule on 1st June, 1963.
His late mother worked late into the night to work and complete making the 12 flags that were to be flown on the 12 ministerial cars.
M.A.Sheikh,MA,ARB Chartered Architect & Urban Designer who migrated to the UK in 1973,is now practicing in London, was a civil Servant in Kenya and worked closely with Joseph Murumbi and Robert Ouko when he was assigned the task of designing the various flags, including designs for a number of medals. More photos and old newspapers cuttings will be posted later.

Some more photos of the art work undertaken by M.A.Sheikh. Most were finally approved after the desired changes were incorporated. The drawings of Lions in the original design were not accepted and the sketches of real African lions were incorporated. Since cockerel was KANU's symbol, KADU supporters used the Panga (Matchet) as their symbol and were their weapon for slaughtering the Jogoo! Sheikh used his own creativity and replaced it with an axe which was well received and incorporated in the final design.


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The Right Rev. Thomas Johnson Kuto Kalume

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The Right Rev. Thomas Johnson Kuto Kalume is the composer and co-producer of “Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu“, the Kenyan national anthem, which was recorded in September 1963 and inaugurated at Uhuru Gardens on December 12, 1963 during Kenya’s independence celebrations.

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