Kenya’s Journey to Independence: A Historical Perspective

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Kenya’s Journey to Independence: A Historical Perspective

Kenya’s journey to independence has been a tumultuous one, fraught with significant political and social developments that have shaped the modern history of this East African nation. This article will provide an in-depth historical overview of Kenya’s road to self-determination from its colonial inception through present day. Beginning with British control prior to World War II, the focus will then move on to chronicle decolonization efforts throughout the 1950s and 1960s, exploring key figures such as Jomo Kenyatta who played influential roles in securing Kenyan sovereignty by 1963. The subsequent government under Kenyatta and other factors such as international relations between superpowers are also discussed within this context before examining Kenya’s post-independence progress since attaining self-governance nearly six decades ago. Through contextualizing important events within their respective eras, this article aims to capture how collective struggles for autonomy laid the foundation for today’s republic of Kenya while providing insight into areas where growth is still needed regarding human rights protection and economic development for all citizens alike.
Kenya's Journey to Independence: A Historical Perspective

I. Introduction

The Republic of Kenya is an African country with a fascinating and complex history. It is located in East Africa, bordered by Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to its east. The official language spoken in Kenya is English as well as Kiswahili while there are approximately 42 different ethnic groups living within its borders.


  • In 1895 Britain colonized what was then known as British East Africa (comprising modern day Kenya) under direct rule of Queen Victoria.
  • During this period construction began on a railway line from Mombasa (a port city on Indian Ocean) all the way through most parts of Kenya up until it reached Kampala in Uganda.
  • Following World War II colonial authorities made several changes that sparked unrest among native Kenyan populations such leading eventually to one man’s name being remembered for his struggle against colonialism: Jomo Kenyatta who became 1st president when kenya get independence .< br / >

    < p > < strong > Independence < / strong >< / p >
    A series of events beginning with protests led by students from University College Nairobi culminated into a nationwide resistance movement that would go down history booksas Mau Mau Uprising. This opposition against British imperial rule galvanized support for independence among nativeKenyans and after a decade long fight culminated into full independence granted in 1963 when kenya get independence , making Kenyatta first President at same time.< br/ >
    In December 1964 Kenyatta announced free elections which were held early 1965 where he easily won winning majority vote becoming officially elected head state thereafter when kenya get independence.. Since then Government has implemented reforms geared towards improving economic growthand development throughout country.

    II. Pre-Colonial History of Kenya

    The British Colonial Rule and Settlements

    • During the 19th century, European nations began to establish colonies in Kenya. The most influential was Britain, which acquired control of what is now Kenya in 1895.
    • Under the British colonial rule, Kenyan territory was divided into three administrative areas: Uganda Protectorate (northern part), Coast Province (coastal strip) and East Africa Protectorate or simply “Kenya” as it became known when kenya get independence from Britain in 1963.
    • In 1903, a decision by the British government to introduce forced labor gave rise to numerous rebellions throughout parts of Kenya. This led to some changes with regards to taxation policies for local people; however this did not fully appease those living under colonialism at that time.

    An Era of Great Change

      < li >Towards the end of World War II – 1945 – African nationalist movements started forming political parties across Kenya as they sought freedom when kenya get independence . This led many young Kenyans join rebel forces such as Mau Mau who rebelled against colonialism through guerrilla warfare during 1952-1960s.< / li >< li >At this time , tribal communities were organized under a model designed by British officials called “Native Administration”. Under this system , each tribe had its own chief who acted both politically and judicially towards other members within their tribe.< / li>< / ul>< p >< b >=A New Way Forward After Independence=: < ul >< li >By 1960 several African states had achieved self-rule including Ethiopia , Ghana and Somalia ; setting an example for others still fighting colonizers throughout various territories on continent.< / li>< li /> In 1962 , after prolonged struggle between resistance fighters and settlers ; Jomo Kenyatta became president following first elections held shortly before when kenya get independence on 12th December 1963.< / Li>

    III. Colonialism in Kenya and the Impact on Kenyan Society

    Pre-Colonial and Colonial Times

    Kenya has a long history of colonization beginning with Portuguese occupation in the 16th century, followed by Omani Arabs in the 19th century. With these occupations came commercial activities that altered Kenyan trade networks and culture as foreign merchants began to buy land from locals while introducing new crops like coffee, tea, wheat and sisal. The British took control of Kenya after World War I; they eventually passed Acts to facilitate their interests such as:

    • The Land Act (1923) which allowed for easier access to land.
    • The Settlements Ordinance (1922) which provided power over local governance.

    In addition, through indirect rule systems during colonial times there was an effort to create centralized state structures supported by different ethnic groups.

    Post-Independence Changes

    When Kenya get independence in 1963 under Jomo Kenyatta’s leadership, it also saw major changes take place. In terms of economic development there was considerable success achieved due largely to efforts put forth towards creating strong institutions designed for investment opportunities. On the other hand when Kenya get independence from Britain there were struggles associated with freedom including internal tribal conflicts over resources that erupted into violence on numerous occasions up until today.

    Lasting Impact on Society

    .It is evident that colonialism had a significant effect on Kenyan society both during its existence as well as post-independence period till this day when kenya get independence. Politically speaking old frameworks were formed under imperialist reign while social distinctions remain within people based off ethnicity or class differences set forth by colonizers. Culturally speaking assimilation occurred between Africans and Europeans leading way for many aspects seen today like Christianity being widely practiced even though traditional religions are still embraced among various parts of the population.

    IV. The Mau Mau Uprising and Its Role in Promoting Independence

    The Mau Mau Uprising was a key milestone in the struggle for Kenya’s independence from British rule. Beginning in 1952, this military campaign took on an anti-colonial stance, with many members of the movement taking up arms against colonial forces and officials stationed throughout Kenya. The uprising eventually inspired other movements to adopt similar tactics against colonialism around Africa and elsewhere.

    As part of its strategy, the organization employed guerrilla warfare tactics as well as propaganda campaigns meant to incite anger amongst Kenyan natives. It also established local civilian networks that distributed food and medical aid to those involved or affected by their actions. While there is still debate over whether they had any tangible success during the conflict itself, there can be no doubt that it raised awareness about self-determination both locally within Kenya but also internationally.

    • Political Impact:

    Ultimately, through its resistance activities even after being declared illegal in 1954, their influence resonated into 1955 when talks began between Britain and nationalist groups about granting autonomy leading up when kenya get independence. This event caused European settlers who were opposed to greater representation for native Kenyans became less powerful politically while gaining more international attention due to increased coverage by media outlets at home and abroad highlighting violence inflicted upon unarmed civilians..

    • Legacy:

    V. Negotiations for Self-Rule and Gaining Independence From Britain (1963)

    Negotiations for self-rule and gaining independence from Britain began in 1963, culminating with the Kenya African National Union (KANU) victory over the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) at a constitutional conference. The resulting negotiations enabled Kenyans to take steps towards self-government by allowing majority rule, economic development, and an end to colonial exploitation.

    The Constitutional Conference of February 1962 drew up plans which involved Kenyan politicians joining together in a coalition government and voting on various matters such as native land rights. This gave way to increased autonomy for certain regions within Kenya that were able to start their own local governments. In addition, new laws regarding civil liberties came into effect such as freedom of expression or movement without fear of being arrested.

    • When Kenya get independence, a large portion was transferred from British governance directly into the hands of KANU under Jomo Kenyatta’s leadership. This marked an important milestone where all Africans could participate politically in governmental affairs.
    • When Kenya get independence, it also opened up many opportunities for reform including industrial growth through investments from foreign countries; educational advancement as elementary schools became more accessible; health improvement with emphasis put on public sanitation and healthcare delivery systems; plus environmental initiatives like conservation efforts.
    • When Kenya get independence, they faced different challenges related to infrastructure services that had been neglected during colonialism due mainly limited resources assigned exclusively domestic projects.. To combat this issue poverty alleviation programs were initiated using international assistance which helped reduce inequality across social classes especially among rural populations who were hardest hit by external dependence prior 1960s era.
    VI. Post-Independence Challenges Faced by the Government of Kenya

    Since its independence from Great Britain in 1963, the Government of Kenya has had to face a number of post-independence challenges. These range from economic and social issues such as poverty and health, to political tensions and environmental concerns.

    On the economic front, when Kenya got independence it was predominantly agrarian society with low incomes; furthermore limited access to credit resulted in relatively slow development rates compared to other African nations. After decades of stagnation brought about by poor fiscal management – resulting in large external debts – further reforms have been implemented which have allowed for better resource allocation towards education and infrastructure projects.

    • Political Tensions

    The country also faces considerable political tension due largely to historic tribal rivalries between different ethnic groups within Kenyan borders. This conflict has led some Kenyans into instability at times – most notably during an attempted coup d’état shortly after independence (in 1964) but there are still areas today where unrest is present. In addition, since 2007’s post-election violence which left over 1,000 people dead or displaced more than 600,000 others; leaders within both sides of government are attempting reconcile these deep-rooted differences through various peace initiatives.

    • Environmental Concerns

    When Kenya got independence its natural resources were abundant however now climate change poses serious threats on food security as weather conditions become increasingly unpredictable each year with extreme floods causing destruction whilst prolonged dry spells result in food shortages . The state is seeking renewable energy solutions alongside conservation efforts like reforestation programmes , although much work needs be done if these problems facing future generations are going be tackled adequately .

    VII. Conclusions: Historical Reflections on an Eventful Journey to Freedom

    The journey to freedom in Kenya has been long and complicated. It began in the late 19th century with an increase of European colonialism, where British imperialists aimed to gain control over the territory. After decades of struggle by Kenyan people against colonial rule, independence was eventually achieved on December 12th 1963, when Jomo Kenyatta became its first Prime Minister.

    Kenya’s history since it gained independence is marked by both successes and challenges: economic development, technological advances and a democratic system co-exist alongside political unrest, ethnic divisions and social inequality. Despite these struggles for stability during this period after attaining freedom from Britain, the country continues striving towards a more prosperous future even today.

    • When Kenya get independence, its economy grew at a fast pace due to access to resources such as minerals found within their borders; moreover large agricultural exports were made possible through external aid.


    • When Kenya get independence, it adopted certain political policies which empowered individuals living there – particularly those who had opposed colonialism previously–to participate more fully in society; this also allowed leaders like Kenyatta to work together across various ideological divides for common goals that could bring about positive change for all citizens.


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