2. British Kenya (1920-1963)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (July 23, 1920-September 25, 1952):  Kenya (part of the British East Africa Protectorate) was declared a British colony on July 23, 1920.  Major-General Sir Edward Northey was appointed as the first Governor of the British colony of Kenya.  The Young Kikuyu Association (later renamed the East African Association-EAA) was established in June 1921.

Crisis Phase (March 14, 1922-September 25, 1952):  Harry Thuku, a member of the Kikuyu tribe from Kiambu District and an opponent of British colonial rule in Kenya, was arrested by British police on March 14, 1922.  Several thousand individuals demonstrated outside the Central Police Station in Nairobi on March 16, 1922.  Police fired on the demonstrators, killing at least 20 demonstrators.  The British government deported three members of the Kikuyu tribe – Harry Thuku, Waiganjo Ndotono, and George Mugekenyi – from British Kenya.  Sir Robert Thorne Coryndon was appointed as Governor of British Kenya on August 15, 1922.  Elections for the Legislative Council were held in British Kenya on March 15, 1924.  The Legislative Council had 17 elected seats, including 11 seats for whites, five seats for Indians, and one seat for Arabs.  The Indians boycotted the elections due to their opposition to the separate ballots for whites and Indians.  Edward W. M. Grigg was appointed as Governor of British Kenya on October 2, 1925.  Elections for the Legislative Council were held in British Kenya on February 5, 1927.  Indians boycotted the elections for four out of five of their seats.  Brig. General Sir Joseph Aloysius Byrne was appointed as Governor of British Kenya on February 13, 1931.  Elections for the Legislative Council were held in British Kenya in 1931.  Indians did not boycott the 1931 elections.  Elections for the Legislative Council were held in British Kenya on March 28, 1934.  Elections for the Legislative Council were held in British Kenya on April 2, 1938.  In 1944, the Kenya African Union-KNU (originally the Kenya African Study Union-KASU) was established by James Gichuru and Harry Thuku in opposition to British colonial rule.  Jomo Kenyatta was elected president of the Kenya African Union (KAU) in June 1947.

Conflict Phase (September 26, 1952-January 12, 1960): Members of the Mau Mau (“Hideen Ones”) Society led by Dedan Kimathi Waciuri began a armed rebellion against the British government on September 26, 1952.  Mau Mau militants killed a British civilian near Nairobi on October 3, 1952.  Chief Waruhiu of the Kikuyu tribe was killed by Mau Mau militants near Nairobi on October 7, 1952.  The British government declared a state-of-emergency in Kenya on October 21, 1952.  That same day, Jomo Kenyatta, president of the KAU, was arrested by British authorities.  Chief Nderi of the Kikuyu tribe and two policemen were killed by Mau Mau militants on October 22, 1952.  Mau Mau militants killed three individuals near North Kinangop on October 27-28, 1952.  Mau Mau militants killed some 150 individuals (members of the Kikuyu tribe) in the village of Lari on March 26, 1953. Mau Mau militants killed 12 government police near Nyeri on March 27, 1953.  Jomo Kenyatta was sentenced to seven years of hard labor for his involvement in the Mau Mau rebellion on April 8, 1953.  Mau Mau militants attacked a government police camp near Othaya on May 8, 1953, resulting in the deaths of 16 militants.  Mau Mau militants attacked a Kikuyu tribal police station in Kairuitha on May 8, 1953, resulting in the deaths of 15 Kikuyu policemen.  Mau Mau militants attacked a Kikuyu tribal police station in Iriani on May 9-10, 1953, resulting in the deaths of 32 militants and five Kikuyu policemen.  Some 78,000 members of the Mau Mau Society were interned in British detention camps during the conflict.  The British government offered amnesty to Mau Mau militants on January 18, 1955, but the offer was withdrawn on June 10, 1955.  Six Mau Mau militants were executed on June 29, 1956, and one Mau Mau militant was executed on July 6, 1956.  Elections to the Legislative Council were held between September 25 and October 2, 1956.  Mau Mau leader, Dedan Kimathi Waciuri, was arrested by British police in the Nyeri District on October 21, 1956.  He was sentenced to death and executed on February 18, 1957.  The British government lifted the state-of-emergency on January 12, 1960.  At least 14,000 individuals, including 12,000 rebels, 1,800 civilians, and 200 government soldiers, were killed during the Mau Mau rebellion.

Post-Conflict Phase (January 13, 1960-December 12, 1963):  Jomo Kenyatta was elected president of the Kenyan African National Union (KANU) in absentia on May 14, 1960.  The KANU was officially recognized as a political party on June 11, 1960.  The Kenya Africa Democratic Union (KADU) was established on June 25, 1960.  Legislative elections were held in British Kenya on February 27, 1961, and KANU won 24 out of 65 elected seats in the Legislative Council.  KADU won 13 seats in the Legislative Council.  Jomo Kenyatta, president of KANU, was released from prison on August 14, 1961. Legislative election were held in British Kenya on May 18-26, 1963, and KANU won 72 out of 112 elected seats in the House of Representatives (plus an additional 11 seats filled by the Electoral College).  KADU won 32 seats in the House of Representatives (plus one additional seat filled by the Electoral College).  Several individuals, including three persons in Elgon-Nyanza and one Meru tribesman in Isiolo, were killed in election-related violence.  Jomo Kenyatta of the KANU formed a government as prime minister on June 1, 1963. Kenya formally achieved its independence from Britain on December 12, 1963.

[Sources: Africa Report, March 1961, October 1961; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 74-75; Clodfelter, 1992, 1012-1013; Facts on File, October 17-23, 1952, March 27-April 2, 1953, May 8-14, 1953; Jessup, 1998, 387-389, 465; Keesing’s Record of World Events, September 27-October 4, 1952, November 15-22, 1952, June 29-July 6, 1957, January 9-16, 1960, July 23-30, 1960, June 22-29, 1963, November 16-23, 1963, December 7-14, 1963; Langer, 1972, 1082-1083, 1279-1280; New York Times (NYT), March 17, 1922;  Tillema, 1991, 100-101.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Bennett, George and Alison Smith. 1976. “Kenya: ‘White Man’s Country’ to Kenyatta’s State 1945-1963.” In D. A. Low and Alison Smith, editors. History of East Africa. Volume III. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sanger, Clyde and John Nottingham. 1964. “The Kenya General Election of 1963,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 2 (1), pp. 1-40.

Throup, D. W. 1985. “The Origins of Mau Mau.” African Affairs 84 (July): 399-433.

Wipper, Audrey. 1989. “Kikuyu Women and the Harry Thuku Disturbances: Some Uniformities of Female Militancy,” Africa Journal of the International African Institute, vol. 59 (3), pp. 300-337.