How Kenya Attained Independence

December is one of the months where most Kenyans come together to celebrate major events in the country’s history. Among this events is the Jamhuri day, also called Independence Day. This is one of most important national holidays in Kenya, observed on 12th December of each year. It marks the date which our country, Kenya, attained independence from the Great Britain (1963) and also the day on which Kenya was admitted, in 1964, into the Commonwealth as a republic.

As a Kenyan citizen, do you know how Kenya became an independent republic? Here is a brief history that forms the events that led to Kenya attaining independence.

Kenya became officially a British Colony in 1920 after being under the British rule ever since the C19th. The colonial administration was established when the East Africa Protectorate was transformed into a British Crown Colony in the same year. As a sign of their total administration and control powers, Major-General Sir Edward Northey was appointed as the first Governor of the British colony of Kenya. He was a senior British Army Officer of the First war who commanded on the Western Front until wounded in 1915. He later returned to service in 1916 and took command of a colonial campaign and later became the Governor of Kenya. He served in this position from 1920-1922. Under this administration, disputes over land and cultural traditions prevailed. In this period, the Young Kikuyu Association was formed, which was later referred to as East Africa Association in 1921. Early 1922, Harry Thuku, a member of the Kikuyu tribe and an Opponent of the British colonial rule in Kenya, was arrested by the British police. These led to massive demonstrations at the Central Police station in Nairobi. During this demonstration, some Kenyans were killed under the firing from the police.

The British government then deported three members of the kikuyu tribe (Harry Thuku, Waiganjo Ndotono and George Mugekenyi) from British Kenya.  In august 1922, Sir Robert Thorne Corydon was the appointed as a governor of British Kenya. In early 1924, elections for the Legislative council were held, with 17 seats (one seat for Arabs, 5 seats for Indians and 11 seats for the whites.) The Indians boycotted the elections due to their opposition to the separate ballots for the whites and Indians. Late 1925, Edward Grigg was then appointed as the governor of British Kenya. In 1927, the elections of the legislative council were again held in British Kenya where the Indians boycotted 4 of their five seats. In 1931, the Brig-General Sir Joseph Aloysius Byrne was appointed as governor of the British Kenya. In this election, the Indians did not boycott. Another elections for the Legislative Council was held in 1934 and 1938. In 1944, the KAU (Kenya African Union/ Kenya African Study Union) was established by Games Gachuru and Harry Thuku in opposition of the British rule. The colonial administration opposed African demands for a greater role in the political process, and it was not until in 1944 that Africa was included in the colony’s legislature. Jomo Kenyatta was the elected as the president of KAU in mid-1947.

The colonial rule continued until in late 1952 when members of the Mau Mau- which meant Hidden Ones- society led by Dedan Kimathi began an armed rebellion against the British Government. The massive killing of the Mau Mau led to the British government declaring a state-of-emergency in Kenya. As result, Jomo Kenyatta was arrested-sentenced to seven years of hard labor- but the killing continued. During this conflict, the British government managed to detain some of the members of the Mau Mau Society (around 75000) after which an amnesty was offered- the amnesty was withdrawn in 1955 and several Mau Mau militants being executed. In 1956, another election was held. Dedan Kimathi, who was the leader of Mau Mau Society, was the arrested, sentenced to death and executed in early 1957.

In 1960, the British  government lifted the state-of-emergency in Kenya. In the same year, Jomo Kenyatta-still in prison- was elected as the president of the Kenya African Nation Union. The part was the then recognized politically in Mid-1960. Another political party –KADU-was established. In 1961, elections were held and KANU won 24 out of 65 seats while KADU won 13 elected seats. Jomo Kenyatta was released from prison in the same year. In the subsequent election held in 1963, KANU won 72 out of 112 elected seats while KADU won 32 out of 112 elected seats in the House of Representatives. Election violence was observed in this election leading to the death of several individuals. Jomo Kenyatta the formed a government as Prime Minister on 1st June 1963. Kenya fully attained its independence from the British government on December 12, 1963 with Jomo Kenyatta as its President.

As you celebrate this national holiday, take few minutes to remember the souls of those directly and indirectly suffered during this process.


Jamhuri Day

Kenya Colony

Thanks for reading.