By Maina Kiarie
The entire East African costline had been surveyed between 1822 and 1826 by Captain William F. Owen, who also wanted to see an end to the slave trade. Not much happened after the survey until 1844 when the German Dr. Krapf set up station at Rabai, in the hills beyond Mombasa.
In 1864 Rebmann was joined by William Jones, a blacksmith and George David with a view to the founding of a Christian Industrial Village for slaves freed from Arab dhows by the British Navy.
As a result of renewed missionary activity in England following Livingstone’s death, and Sir Bartle Frere’s representations in London to the Church Mission Society (C.M.S.), the Society sent out Mr. Salter Price in 1874 with instructions to develop Rabai as a Christian village, and to establish an industrial settlement near Mombasa for freed slaves. He succeeded Rebmann at Rabai, and established Freretown (Kisauni) in honour of Sir Bartle Frere during a period of two years’ service.
Joseph Thompson, a Scottish geologist and explorer, was commissioned by the Royal Geological Society of England to carry out an expedition to explore a route from the EAC to the northern shores of Lake Victoria (source of River Nile). Thompson was the first European to walk from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. The Royal Geographical Society is a British learned society founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences.
Thomson’s expedition had been commissioned at the request of British Empire traders who were demanding a route that would avoid the Maasai and the hostile Germans who were competing for trade in the area. Thompsons’s reports on the raw potential of East Africa sparked the interest of European powers for control of the regions as protectorates and colonies
Pioneering businessmen in the EAC such as the German Karl Peters and Scot William Mackinnon compelled their home governments (Germany and Britain, respectively) to protect their interests in the region.
In 1885, the East African territories were carved-up between Britain, Germany and France. The Germans took Tanganyika (present day Tanzania and Zanzibar), the British assumed control of British East Africa (the region that was later divided into Kenya and Uganda), whilst the French took the island of Madagascar.