History of Kenya


Kenya or the Republic of Kenya as it is known is a country in Eastern Africa. Written records and archeological evidence are the two primary sources of the history of Kenya dating back to 2.5 million years ago. Through the history of Kenya a clear understanding of the life of the people of that time can be got.

Pre-civilized History
Findings suggest that about 4.1 million years ago, hominids like 'Australopithecus anamensis' lived near the Lake Turkana area. Discovery of a new species, 'Orrorin tugenensis' in the Tugen Hills dates back to approximately 6 million years.

Early Kenyan Civilizations
Around 2000 BC Cushitic-speaking people from northern Africa moved into Kenya. The Arab traders were becoming quite regular by the 1st century because of Kenya's proximity to the Arabian Peninsula which later invited colonization as both Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century. The 'Nilotic' and 'Bantu' peoples moved into the region afterwards occupying three-quarters of Kenya's population. By the 16th century Arab dominance receded with the arrival of the Portuguese, whose domination gave way in turn to that of Oman in 1698. Ultimately the Europeans established their influence in the 19th century.

Colonial History
Historians consider that the colonial Kenyan history dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the 'Imperial British East Africa Company' in 1888. After Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890 mostly all incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled. Following severe financial difficulties of the 'British East Africa Company', on 1st July, 1895 the British government established direct rule through the 'East African Protectorate', consequently opening the fertile highlands to white settlers. The building of the 'Kenya-Uganda' railway passing through the country followed. Resistance came from tribes like the 'Nandi' led by 'Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei' for ten years from 1895 to 1905, but this did not stop the British building the railway.

In 1907 the settlers were partly allowed a voice in government through the Legislative Council where some were even appointed. Most of the powers remained in the hands of the Governor and the settlers started lobbying to transform Kenya in a 'Crown Colony', which meant more powers for the settlers.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and the governors of British East Africa and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. However, the German took command of their military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. October 1952 to December 1959 saw Kenya under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule. The participation of the African people in the political process developed speedily during the latter part of the period as British policymakers sought to isolate the insurgents and their supporters.

Independent Kenya
Shortly before Kenya became independent on 12th December, 1963 the 'Kenya African National Union' (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta, a member of the large 'Kikuyu' tribe and former prisoner under the emergency formed the government. On the establishment of a republic Kenyatta became Kenya's first president a year later. A minority coalition party, the 'Kenya African Democratic Union' (KADU) joined KANU in 1964. After Kenyatta's death on 22nd August, 1978 Vice President Daniel arap Moi became interim President before becoming the sworn President on 14th October.

 

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