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Kenya colony


The East Africa protectorate become a Crown colony in 1920 and named Kenya Colony and Protectorate. Kenya is named in honour of the region’s highest mountain, Mt. Kenya.

By 1920 over 12,000 acres of wheat had been planted establishing the commercial viability of the crop.

In 1920, a central body known as the East African Currency Board was established to oversee the issuance of currency in the region. The Indian rupee was to be replaced with the East African protectorate rupees, but, this was short-lived as the East African Florins were introduced instead.

Between 1919 and 1922, missionaries led by Dr Arthur trained about 60 African medical dressers and dispensers. The 1921 Public Health ordinance required the Medical Department to assume medical responsibility for the whole Kenyan population. The department was entrusted with the task of helping in the prevention, limitation or suppression of infectious communicable or preventive diseases.

In 1921, the Salvation Army, known for its charitable work such as the school for the blind at Thika and schools for the physically handicapped, started work in Kenya.

In 1922, the first tarmac road in Kenya was built. A 20-metre long test strip was bitumenised and soon the centre of Nairobi was also tarmacked. By 1930 asphalt had spread to other towns such as Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.

In 1923, the East African Shilling was introduced as the official currency of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika.

In 1925, the Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC) was founded to process and market dairy products (mainly butter and cheese) locally and abroad.In 1928, pyrethrum cultivation was introduced to Kenya and by 1932 commercial production of pyrethrum flowers had began.

In 1925 Brooke Bond began buying land and planting tea in Kenya.

In the 1930s several roads were constructed to serve mining and tea growing areas. The mining roads were Kisian-Asembo Bay (1936), Homa Bay-Suna (1936) Mihuru Bay-Lolgorien (1936) and Kisumu-Ahero-Kibigori (1938). The Jamji-Chemagel-Lolgorien road (1937) was to connect the Kericho tea growing area with Lolgorien gold mines.

Leone Galton-Fenzi was the first man to drive from Nairobi to Mombasa in January 1926, in a Riley. He was the founder of the Royal East African Automobile Association, 1919, and Honorary Secretary until his death on May 15,1937. He also pioneered the Nairobi-Dar es Salaam to Malawi route, and the Nairobi – Khartoum route.

By 1928, Kenya’s teas were being sold at the London Tea Auction.

The Native Lands Trust Ordinance of 1930 provided that African reserves were to be “for the use and benefit of native tribes”.

In 1937, the Thika High Level Sisal Research Station was opened to support development of the industry. The research station operated for 35 years. In 1972 it was closed down and converted into the National Horticultural Research Station.

In 1938, the Crown Lands (Amendment) Ordinance created native reserves, which became vested in the Native Lands Trust Board.

By 1939, factory production in Kenya was chiefly based on processing agricultural commodities although other non-agricultural industries had began to expand, such as electricity generation; the manufacture of cement, metal wares and mineral waters; and the processing of soda ash. Before the beginning of the Second World War, British policy on industrialisation was against the development of manufacturing industries in the colonies. The British policy towards the colonies was to use them as a basis for the extraction and/or production of raw materials and foodstuffs, especially raw materials for British industries.

By 1946, Kenya’s road network consisted of approximately 27,162 kilometres of road. The first roads in Kenya to receive bitumen treatment were the Nairobi-Thika (1946), the Nairobi-Nakuru (1946) and the Kipkelion-Kericho.

In 1946, the Central Artificial Insemination Station (CAIS) was established in Kabete to control reproductive diseases and to improve  genetic quality.

In 1946, the colonial government established the Kenya Sisal Board, a body charged with overseeing the sisal industry.

In 1948, construction of the first fruit canning plant, Kenya Canners was started in Thika on a site adjacent to the Metal Box factory, which supplied the tin cans. Kenya Canners  was initiated as a partnership project between an English fruit farm, Pickering & West, and a group of settler farmers including Harries of Air Harries & Company. The factory was formally opened in 1950 and was equipped to can other products such as beans, peas, as well as pineapples.

On October 20, 1952, the foundation stone for the construction of the European Hospital (today known as the Nairobi hospital) was laid by Sir Evelyn Baring, Governor of the colony of Kenya. The hospital was officially opened on April 9, 1954 by the Ag. Governor Sir Fredrick Crawford. Since its opening the hospital was only open to Europeans.

In 1954, a spinning factory was opened in Juja to process twine, ropes, gunny bags and later carpets and mats from sisal fibre for the domestic and export market.

By 1955, there were 75 licensed tea farmers in Kenya. The size of the holdings ranged from 10,000 acres to less than 50 acres. In the mid-1950s the cultivation of cash crops, such as coffee, tea and pyrethrum, was opened to the Africans. The settlers resented this as they viewed it as competition.

In 1950 the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) was established.

In 1958, the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) was established to regulate dairy marketing.

The Mau Mau engaged the colonial government in guerilla warfare from 1952 to 1956 when the leader of the movement, Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi was captured. Kimathi was captured on October 21, 1956 and executed by the colonial government in February 18, 1957.

By the 1950s the number of White settlers in Kenya was estimated at 80,000. Agricultural produce from the White settler farms also increased, as a result small railway stations were  developed for ease of transportation of the produce. These stations include: Nakuru, Naivasha, Tigoni, Kijabe and Sigona.

In 1959 the British government revoked the Land Ordinance of 1939 and opened up the White Highlands to the Africans.

On March 3, 1959 Hola massacre in which 11 prisoners were beaten to death while 23 needed hospital treatment. Hola camp housed detainees classified as “hard-core”. By January 1959 the camp had a population of 506 detainees of whom 127 were held in a secluded “closed camp” reserved for the uncooperative of the detainees. On March 3,1959, 85 prisoners were marched outside and ordered to work but “dozens of the prisoners fell to the ground refusing to work” and were beaten by the guards.

In 1960, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), an African party, which advocated for a unitary government, and with the slogan “Uhuru”  was formed under the leadership of Kikuyu leader James Gichuru and labour leader Tom Mboya. A split in KANU produced the breakaway rival party, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), led by Ronald Ngala and Masinde Muliro, which advocated for a quasi-federal government (Majimbo).

On August 21,1961, nine years after his arrest, Kenyatta was freed from all restrictions. In 0ctober 1961, Kenyatta took on the leadership of the KANU, which proceeded to win the pre-independence elections of May 18, 1963.
The first full franchise General Elections were held in May 1963 and KANU emerged the winner.

On May 27, 1963, Jomo Kenyatta was elected prime minister in Kenya’s first multi-racial elections.

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