British East Africa Protectorate
By Maina Kiarie
The Berlin conference of 1884-85 was held in Germany in order for European powers to agree on the regions in Africa each power had the right to ‘pursue’ legal ownership of land. This conference marked the official start of the Scramble for Africa by European powers: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom (Britain).
1886-1895: IBEAC and administration of British East Africa
At the Berlin Conference (1884-85) two European powers, Britain and Germany, expressed interest in the EAC. To resolve the dispute amicably the two Powers signed a treaty in 1886 in which they agreed that Germany would lay claim to the coast of present day Tanzania and Britain retained access to the area in which Kenya and Uganda lie.
Britain did not take up direct administration of the region under its Sphere of influence rather it gave the right to administer to a commercial company, the Imperial British East African Company (IBEAC). The British government encouraged Sir William Mackinnon who run a shipping company at the coast to take up the responsibility.
Sir Mackinnon formed a British East Africa Association which led to the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC). In 1887, the company was granted a concession of administration in East Africa. Upon being chartered in 1888 IBEAC assumed administrative control of British East Africa – a region stretching from the eastern coast of Africa to the kingdom of Buganda, on the north-western shore of Lake Victoria (an area of approximately 639,209km²).
IBEAC was expected to govern the exportation and management of goods and agriculture, and facilitate the construction of a railway connecting the EAC to Lake Victoria.
IBEAC built stations at Machakos in Kamba territory and in Kikuyu. At the coast they had station agents at Kismayu, Lamu, Witu, Malindi, Takaungu, and Vanga with the central administration at Mombasa.
In 1890, Fredrick Lugard had the company’s first Kikuyu station built at Dagoretti. In April 1891 Waiyaki wa Hinga led the local resistance that forced the British to evacuate and then destroyed the fort.
In 1890, IBEAC started building the Mackinnon-Sclater road, a 1000km ox-cart track from Mombasa to Busia on the Uganda border. The part of the road called the “Mackinnon road” linked Mombasa and Kibwezi. It was built by an Australian called George Wilson. Captain B.L. Sclater was the engineer responsible for building the road from Kibwezi to Uganda.
IBEAC did not complete the construction of the road. Rival factions of the company’s operations in Uganda (the Kabaka, French Catholics, Protestants) objected to the company’s plan to construct a fortified location in Uganda. The conflict was not resolved amicably and in 1892 civil war broke out in Buganda kingdom Though IBEAC won in the war, it proved to be the company’s final undoing. Even before the war, IBEAC was already struggling financially due to customs issues, the money spent funding this skirmish all but bankrupted it. The company went bankrupt in 1895.
The East Africa Protectorate: 1895-1920
The British government dissolved IBEAC and on July 1, 1895 it proclaimed a protectorate over the region, and the administration transferred to the Foreign Office. The region called British East Africa was renamed the East Africa Protectorate. The protectorate was administered from Zanzibar, the residence of the first Commissioner, Sir Arthur Henry Hardinge.
In 1895, the British government took over and claimed the interior as far west as Lake Naivasha; it set up the East Africa Protectorate. In 1902, the border was extended to Uganda, and in 1920 the enlarged protectorate, except for the original coastal strip, which remained a protectorate, became a crown colony.
After dissolution of the IBEAC, the British government completed the construction of the Mackinnon-Sclater road. The road reached Port Victoria (Siaya) in December 1896.
In 1896 construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway started.
Captain Sclater brought the first bullock wagon into the interior in January 1896, just seven months after the commencement of construction of the Uganda railway
In 1902, administration of the territory was transferred from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office and the Uganda territory was incorporated as part of the protectorate. By declaring a protectorate over British East Africa the British government had established direct control over the region and opened up the fertile highlands to White settlers in 1902. Sir Charles Norton Eliot, commissioner of British East Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, is credited with having initiated the policy of white supremacy in the British East Africa protectorate (now Kenya).
Hut tax was introduced in 1903 (not because it was a necessary public finance measure, but it was intended as a means of forcing Africans to work for the white settlers in order to earn money to pay taxes with).
The Native Hut Tax was had been put into law in 1901 through the Hut Tax Regulations of 1901. The tax was charged on all huts used as dwellings at a rate of Rs 2 (2 Rupees) per annum. In 1903, the Hut Tax was raised to Rs 3. The tax could also be paid in kind including labour. The occupier of the hut was responsible for paying the tax. In this largely polygamous society if a man had many huts he had to raise money for all the huts or work with some of his wives and sons. From 1910 women living in their own huts were required to pay Hut Tax.
In 1905, Lord Hindlip, a settler, summed up the European attitude on taxes when he wrote “I am sure that as far as possible taxes should be paid entirely in labour or in cash. A demand for cash should be created among the natives, who would have to obtain coin in order to pay their taxes”.
In 1907 the British colonial administration was moved from Mombasa to Nairobi.
In 1910, Poll Tax Ordinance was introduced in order to prevent circumvention of Native Hut Tax. This Ordinance empowered the Commissioner to impose tax on anyone who was not covered by the Hut Tax. All African males 25 years and older were required to pay Poll Tax.
The process of monetization is whereby people took to using a medium of exchange that does not necessarily have a direct utility in itself. Monetization in the East African region at the East African coast began with the use of the the silver Maria Theresa thaler (dollar). Prior to monetization exchange was done in terms of goods. Wire, cloth and beads were the items most used but they were not necessarily homogeneous-particularly different coloured beads were needed for different locations.
During the First World War from 1914 to 1918, the British used over 50,000 African troops and over one million African followers.
Approximately 24,000 Kenyans were killed fighting for the British in World War 1. In “Kenya: From Colonization to Independence, 1888-1970”, R. Mugo Gatheru gives the number as 23,869. Of the approximately 163,000 Africans who served in the Carrier Corps, about 124,000 were said to have died of influenza.
In the course of the First World War 42,318 East African porters known as carrier corps died from diseases in that war, while 4,300 died in actual combat.
Soldiers on the British government front in the World War 1 were drawn from the King’s African Rifles (KAR), a multi-battalion British colonial regiment raised from British possessions in East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar) from 1902 to the 1960s. Soldiers (other ranks) of the KAR were recruited from Somaliland, British East Africa, Uganda, Nyasaland, and following its transfer after World War 1 Tanganyika (previously German East Africa).
In 1914, KAR comprised of 70 British officers, 3 British non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and 2,325 Africans. By the end of World War 1 the KAR consisted of 22 battalions, 1,193 British officers, 1,497 British NCOs and 30,658 Africans.
In 1914 no carrier organisation existed, so one had to be rapidly improvised. The Carrier Corps was a military organisation created in Kenya in World War 1 to provide military labour to support the British campaign against the German Military forces in East Africa, commanded by Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. It was a military labour organisation which ultimately recruited or conscripted over 400,000 African men for porterage (on foot) and other support tasks.
While soldiers carried guns, Carrier Corps carried the things that soldiers needed to survive and fight – food, ammunition, medical supplies and equipment. There were three main carrier forces, based on the East Africa Protectorate, on Uganda and on Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia.
The Native Followers Recruitment Ordinance (1915), was introduced as a wartime contingency to secure adequate labour for the Carrier Corps. It called for the compulsory conscription of 3,000 labourers per month. Only those already employed by Europeans were exempt from recruitment.
Despite much improved rations and medical services, deaths among followers averaged 10%; over 100,000 must have died from disease or were killed in the field.
Settlement quarters such as ‘Kariokor’ in Nairobi and ‘Kariokoo’ in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma are named after the carrier corps presumably because members of the corps were given housing in this places.
The Indian community was racially segregated in the East Africa protectorate, with restrictions imposed on them with regard to commercial and residential occupation in the towns and Indian immigration. Despite the segregation and restrictions imposed on Indians their numbers rapidly grew to outnumber the Europeans by more than 2:1 by 1919.
The East Africa protectorate remained a British protectorate until July 23, 1920 when it, except the original coastal strip, became a Crown colony. The original coastal strip remained a protectorate.
European settlement started in 1890. Two or three Europeans who settled at Mua Hills near Machakos marked the southern limit of European settlement.
Sir Charles Norton Eliot, commissioner of British East Africa at the beginning of the 20th century (December 1900-1904), is credited with having initiated the policy of white supremacy in the British East Africa protectorate (now Kenya).
From 1902, the British government encouraged white settlers to settle in Kenya. In April 1902, the first application for land in British East Africa was made by the East Africa Syndicate-a company in which financiers belonging to the British South Africa Company sought a grant of 500 sq.m.; this was followed by other applications for considerable areas.
European settlement began in earnest after the promulgation of the Crown Lands Ordinance of 1902. The Ordinance declared that all land belonged to the British Imperial Government.
During the first phase of European settlement in Kenya, 1902 to 1908, nearly all alienated land was found around the railway towns and at points not far from it. The land open to white settlement during this period was the area between Kibwezi in the east and Fort Ternan station in the west. The second phase of European settlement was into the Uasin Gishu Plateau, centring around the town of Eldoret. The third phase of European settlement started after the First World War with the allocation of land to demobilised soldiers in the Kenyan highlands under the ex-soldiers settlement schemes.
Sir Charles Eliot had reserved all the land from Kiu to Fort Ternan for white settlers, and in 1907 the colonial secretary, Victor Alexander Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin, pledged that the area would be reserved for Europeans.
During the early part of the 20th century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area.
The Crown Lands ordinance of 1902 provided for sale of land and leases to settlers. The ordinance underlined that the Crown had original title to land and that where Africans vacated or deserted the land, that land was considered waste and reverted back to the Crown to be given to the settlers.
There were two types of land tenure: leasehold and freehold. The Crown Lands Ordinance of 1902 provided that the settler-farmers would lease land for 99 years and not 21 years, as per the Ordinance of 1897. Each settler was to be given 160 acres free of charge as an inducement to farm. In 1915 the leasehold terms were raised from 99 years to 999 years further stimulating European immigration.
1903 saw the arrival of hundreds of prospective settlers, chiefly from South Africa. This led to a decision not to entertain more applications for large areas of land.
White settlement in the early years of the 20th century was led by Lord Delamere, a pugnacious gentleman farmer from Chesire, England. By 1912, Delamere and his followers had shifted to the highlands near Nairobi and established mixed agricultural farms.
Lord Delamere and many other pioneer farmers suffered a lot in their farming ventures as little was known of the kind of crops to grow in the region. By trial and error they established plantations of coffee, tea, sisal, cotton, pineapples, wattle trees and pyrethrum. Cattle rearing also proved a profitable undertaking, spurring the establishment of huge ranches.
In 1907, the the Legislative Council was established, Lord Delamere was one of the three non-official members appointed by the governor to represent white settler interests.
Lord Delamere was the settlers unofficial leader and, in some measure, spokesman for 30 years. He was a member of the Legislative Council, the Executive Council, and in 1907, became president of the Colonists’ Association.
The settlers, led by Lord Delamere demanded for elected representatives in to the Legislative Council (Legco). This demand did not include Asians and Africans. In 1916, European settlers were allowed to elect representatives who sat on the non-official (opposition) side of the Legco.
In 1919, the European settlers won the right to elect representatives to the legislative council. In the same year, they established the British East Africa Maize Growers Association, which evolved into the Kenya Farmers Association four years later.
Altogether, the White Highlands comprised 17,000 square miles, or 15% of the size of the country. By 1960 some seven and a half million acres of the White Highlands had been alienated for European settler use.
In 1903 there were about 100 settlers. There was an influx of settlers between 1908 and 1914, with 1908 marking the peak of European settler immigration. In this year 280 Transvaal Boers embarked on a trek across Kenya with completed houses, wagons and ploughs and settled in the Uasin Gishu plateau for wheat farming. By 1914 there were about 1,000 settlers in Kenya. European settlers increased in number, by the 1950s the White population numbered over 80,000.
The settler population was increased by the immigration of some 1,000 British ex-soldiers who had fought in the First World War. They were granted land in Nanyuki, Nyahururu (formerly Thomson’s Falls) and Trans Nzoia Districts.
The term ‘settler’ as it became current in usage meant a European who was resident in Kenya. While the majority of these were farmers, there was a minority which consisted of businessmen, civil servants and workers.
The white settlers practised large scale farming of agricultural produce such as wheat, pineapples, coffee, tea, pyrethrum, wattle trees and flowers for the European market. Some of them had ranches.