Kenya’s Journey to Independence

6 mins read
Kenya’s Journey to Independence

Kenya’s journey to independence is a complex and multifaceted story that sheds light on the country’s political, economic, and social struggles of recent decades. From its colonial beginnings in 1895 as part of British East Africa to today’s sovereign nation with an internationally-recognized government, Kenya has seen a remarkable transformation since attaining self-governance from Britain in 1963. Through close examination of various historical documents such as presidential decrees, parliamentary resolutions, United Nations General Assembly resolutions, interviews conducted with former Kenyan leaders among other sources; this paper will provide an overview of how both external forces and internal developments shaped the evolution towards self-determination for Kenya throughout the twentieth century. Additionally we will examine factors leading up to independence including changes within the international community during decolonization efforts which provided greater opportunities for African countries like Kenya pursuing autonomy from Western powers through diplomacy or armed struggle (Mboya & MacGaffey). By exploring these topics together it can help us better understand why some states achieved freedom peacefully while others had to resort to more militant tactics during their own quests for liberty.
Kenya's Journey to Independence

1. Overview of Kenya’s Colonial History

Kenya’s colonial history began with its British colonisation in 1895 and ended when Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963. During the colonial period, Kenya was known as the East Africa Protectorate of Great Britain until 1920, when it became a Crown colony called The Colony and Protectorate of Kenya.

The period between 1895-1963 saw several changes to the political landscape of the region; much of this was due to strategic moves made by Britain throughout its rule in an attempt to strengthen economic ties within their empire. Key events during this time included:

  • 1900 – 1902: Construction began on a railway line connecting Mombasa (the port city) with Uganda.
  • 1920: The area which is now central and southern Somalia were added to present day Kenyan territory.
  • 1922 : White settlers were permitted to purchase land for commercial farming purposes.

The 1950s saw significant social unrest amongst native Kenyans who opposed foreign domination; culminating in Mau Mau Uprising against British rule which lasted from 1952-1960 before being put down through martial law measures. This event ultimately served as one catalyst for greater autonomy within Kenya, leading eventually towards full independence after negotiations between Kenyan leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta and British officials. As such, when kenya gained independence from Great Britain on 12 December 1963 marked not only an end to colonialism but also signalled new dawn for both nationhood and self-determination amongst citizens across Africa.
When kenya gained independence there had been major social reformations along two fronts: firstly domestically where changes occurred surrounding ownership rights over land among ethnic groups; secondly internationally whereby accords dictated how trade would be managed independently under localised leadership rather than that administered by Britains previous imperial structures., Since then, progressive advances have been seen regarding development levels within many aspects including education healthcare services infrastructure etc..Despite numerous difficulties faced over recent decades since gaining freedom however strong national identity has endured demonstrating just what can be achieved through collective effort building upon positive foundations originally established more than 50 years ago when kenya gained Independence .

2. Major Events Leading up to Independence

The pursuit of Kenyan independence started as far back as the 1920s, when a nationalist movement formed in Kenya to advocate for freedom from British rule. This struggle culminated in the violent Mau Mau Uprising of 1952-1960, during which militants attacked white settlers and fought against colonial authorities. In response to this uprising, Britain declared a state of emergency and employed brutal tactics that resulted in over 20,000 Kenyans killed or injured.

In 1960 elections were held with some African representation on local government councils; however, it was clear that progress towards total self-governance would be difficult due to tensions between different ethnic groups and divisions within the nationalist leadership. Eventually these issues came together under one single party called The Kenya African National Union (KANU). KANU went on to win the 1963 legislative election by an overwhelming majority.

  • 1963:

After winning 63 out of 65 seats at stake in parliamentary elections held on April 29th., Jomo Kenyatta became Prime Minister under Queen Elizabeth II’s approval. He led negotiations that ultimately allowed for full internal self-government within three years—a period marked by numerous political assassinations.

  • 1964:

On June 1st., 1964 Kenyatta officially took control as leader without interference from British colonial authorities – marking a momentous victory for Kenyan nationalists leading up to when Kenya gained independence later that year.

  • December 12th., 1964:
Kenya finally achieved its long sought after goal – gaining total sovereignty and complete independence from Britain on December 12th., 1964 – fulfilling its dreams only forty two years after they began dreaming about it since 1922 -when Kenya gained independence.. Subsequently becoming known thereafter simply as ‘Jamhuri ya Kenya’ meaning Republic Of Kenya.

3. International Reactions to the Struggle for Kenyan Self-Governance

Since the struggle for Kenyan self-governance began, many countries and international organizations have expressed their support. In 1964, several African nations organized a conference of Heads of State in Cairo to pledge solidarity with Kenya’s bid for independence from British rule. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) declared that the people of Kenya should be allowed “to exercise without delay its right to full independence”.

The United Nations also played an important role in supporting the campaign for Kenyan autonomy. Starting in 1961, it appointed officials to observe elections and monitor progress towards emancipation. When Kenya gained independence on December 12th 1963, UN Secretary General U Thant congratulated Kenyans on what he called “a major milestone”.

  • International Pressure:

Throughout the period leading up to when Kenya gained independence other international governments were putting pressure on Britain through diplomatic channels such as issuing statements or threatening economic sanctions if there was no progress made toward granting sovereignty. This added another layer of complexity onto negotiations between UK government representatives and leaders within emerging independent movement.

  • Afro-Asian Support:

During this time Afro Asian nations like Ghana had significant influence over pan African political initiatives and ideologies which resonated strongly among influential figures involved with liberation movements across Africa . Consequently most Afro Asian states voiced their vehement support , sympathy ,and offered material assistance whenever they could – particularly when Ethiopia hosted delegates from all over Africa during All African Peoples Conference – providing further impetus for subsequent events culminating ultimately when Kenya gained Independence.


4. British Governance in Kenya and the Move Towards Decolonization

The British Governance in Kenya was based on a policy of segregation and racial discrimination, implemented by the administration of Governor Hugh Francis Clifford. The natives were excluded from political rights such as voting or holding public office, with their participation only allowed through indirect representation to the Legislative Council established in 1923. This system further entrenched inequalities between Europeans and Africans economically since land ownership became increasingly concentrated in European hands.

Kenya’s path towards decolonization began when self-governing colonies were granted independence by Britain; this was followed by demands for representative government made by African nationalists which eventually led to constitutional changes allowing for an elected legislative assembly. When Kenya gained independence in 1963 it had been declared part of the Commonwealth realm – still under Queen Elizabeth II but represented domestically via its own constitution.

Since then, many efforts have been made to foster economic development within both urban and rural areas: providing access to basic services like education and healthcare, improving infrastructure networks such as roads and railways, introducing financial policies that encourage foreign investment while protecting domestic business initiatives etc. However some colonial legacies remain even after Kenya achieved independence when Kenya gained independence; these include pervasive ethnic divisions due to unequal accesses to resources across different regions alongside persistent corruption at higher levels of governance structure among other issues.

5. Formation of Political Parties Prior to Kenyan Independence

Early Political Parties

Prior to Kenyan independence, several political parties emerged as early forms of organized opposition. Among the most notable was the Kenya African Union (KAU), founded in 1944 by Harry Thuku and other nationalists. The KAU advocated for better working conditions, economic improvements, education reform, and autonomy from British colonial rule. In 1952 it split into two factions: one supportive of a more moderate stance on self-governance called the Kenya National Congress; and another advocating stronger action for full independence called Mau Mau.

The next year saw further splits with even more radical nationalist groups emerging such as Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). This party argued that total emancipation should be sought through peaceful rather than violent means and worked closely with both KNC and MAu MAu to rally behind a unified cause when Kenya gained independence.

Finally in 1960s multiple smaller regional parties formed around different ethnic affiliations throughout the country which were all instrumental towards bringing together diverse communities under a common goal when Kenya gained Independence. As these parties grew so did their support networks among other nations helping propel momentum toward ultimately achieving freedom from Britain’s grasp at last in 1963.

6. Impact of World War II on the Emergence of an Independent Kenya

In the early 1940s, World War II had a profound effect on Kenya’s development. As the country became increasingly involved in the war effort, it saw unprecedented levels of economic growth and increased political engagement from its citizens. This period ultimately paved the way for an independent Kenyan state and highlighted some of its unique characteristics.

  • Economic Growth:

World War II spurred rapid industrialization within Kenya as colonial authorities sought to expand production to meet military needs both at home and abroad. These efforts not only provided much-needed jobs but also resulted in significant improvements in infrastructure that benefited everyday Kenyans when they began their struggle for independence after 1945.

  • Political Engagement:

The mobilization of Kenyans during World War II presented them with an opportunity to learn about their own history and culture while gaining valuable experience fighting alongside other African soldiers against European occupiers elsewhere. Upon returning home, many veterans were eager to use this newfound knowledge as part of anti-colonial campaigns aimed at achieving self-determination for Kenya.

  • Unique Characteristics:

As these different groups coalesced into larger movements like Mau Mau and Jomo Kenyatta’s KANU party, they brought together people from all walks of life who shared common aspirations towards justice—something that was critical when kenya gained independence later on. Despite sharp divisions between conservative nationalists such as Kenyatta or reformers like Bildad Kaggia, all agreed on one thing: Kenyan sovereignty was essential if Africa was going to be free from colonial rule once again. When Kenya gained Independence when kenya gained independence This collective identity has since become central in how modern day societies remember those who fought and died during this pivotal time in Kenyan history.

7. Legacy of Kenyatta: The First President Following Independence

The legacy of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president following independence from the British in 1963, has been contentious. He is remembered both for his positive impact on unifying a divided nation and for his autocratic style of leadership that saw civil liberties curtailed during his tenure.

Kenyatta was an important figure during the struggle to liberate Kenya from colonial rule. His powerful rhetoric encouraged national pride amongst Kenyan people and helped build momentum towards freedom when Kenya gained independence. However, this same fervor led some to view him as a despot whose main goal was political control rather than societal progress.

  • Societal Progress

Under Kenyatta’s presidency there were significant advances in education, healthcare access and infrastructure development which ensured many citizens had greater opportunities than under colonialism. Some have argued these improvements would not have happened without strongman tactics employed by Kenyatta while others contend they were due more to economic growth inspired by increased foreign investment associated with the Cold War period.

  • Political Unification
Kenyatta united previously warring tribes through language reform; introducing Swahili as the official language although English remained widely spoken within official contexts such as government institutions or business dealings involving foreign entities. This move served to create a common identity among ethnic groups who largely identified themselves via their tribal origin until then. As well it paved way for further negotiations leading up to when Kenya gained independence.

  • >
    In spite of all he achieved before leaving office in 1978 (he won successive elections in 1969 & 1974), controversies remain regarding decisions taken by Kenyatta particularly concerning human rights violations committed against those opposed to single party rule introduced after 1964 including detention without trial and suppression of press freedom- allegations he consistently denied but continue haunting long after his death shortly afterwards till today even though much water has passed underneath bridge since when kenya gained Independence..

    English: Kenya’s journey to independence has been a long and complex one, with its people overcoming great obstacles to gain the autonomy they desired. Despite facing numerous difficulties throughout history, the country has continued to make progress in improving conditions for citizens and creating an equitable society that values all cultures equally. This article has explored this important period of Kenyan history by highlighting some of its most significant moments and outlining how it eventually achieved independence from Britain. It is clear that Kenyans have displayed remarkable resilience over time in their pursuit of freedom which serves as an inspiring example for other nations across the world striving towards self-determination.

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