Kenya History

Kenya History

Prehistory and Swahili culture

The area of ​​today’s Kenya is one of the oldest settlement areas on earth. Archaeological finds on Lake Turkana have been dated to be around 1.5 million years old. Skeletal remains of the early human Homo erectus, around 750,000 years old, were also found here.

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Before about 500 AD Bantu-speaking tribes such as the Kikuyu who inhabited the area of ​​what is now Kenya mostly lived here as nomadic hunters and gatherers. From AD 800 South Arab sailors settled on the coast of what is now Kenya and founded cities there (eg Mombasa, Malindi). These Muslim cities became important bases for the trade in ivory, gold and slaves. While more and more Arabs and Persians settled on the coast and Islam spread, a mix with the Bantu tribes gave rise to the Swahili culture with its own language.

Dominance of Portugal and Oman

After the sea route to the Cape of Good Hope was discovered at the end of the 15th century, the Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama landed in the city of Mombasa in 1498. Only a few years later, Portuguese troops occupied the coastal towns of Mombasa and Malindi and took control of the coastal areas over the next few decades. In 1752, after long struggles, the Portuguese had to relinquish their rule over the commercial branches to the South Arab Sultanate of Oman-Zanzibar. Over the next 150 years, several Islamic leaders fought for supremacy in the coastal region before the Sultanate of Oman finally prevailed under Seyyid Said in 1822. From the beginning of the 19th century, the influence of the British East Africa Company also increased steadily in what is now Kenya. The British tried to limit the flourishing slave trade from the mid-19th century (Sultan Said moved his residence to Zanzibar and had large plantations built there, which required a large number of workers). Around the same time, exploration of the interior of the country by European researchers began. In consultation with the colonial power of Germany, the area of ​​what is now Kenya (and Uganda) was assigned to the sphere of influence of Great Britain (Treaty of 1886).

Colonization by Britain

In 1895, almost the entire area of ​​what is now Kenya was annexed to the British East Africa Protectorate. The local tribes, especially in the fertile highlands, were pushed aside by the immigration of European settlers, disregarding their land claims. The British started with the creation of large plantations (especially coffee, tea, bananas) and with the construction of a railway line from Mombasa to Lake Victoria.

According to AbbreviationFinder, Kenya became a crown colony in 1920. Since the influx of white settlers continued unabated even after the end of the First World War, political groups such as the “Kikuyu Association” (from 1924 “Kikuyu Central Association” / KCA), founded by the Kikuyu, formed political groups Right to have a say and the return of the country to the black population. These political organizations were largely banned during the Second World War, but formed again after the end of the war. Kikuyu, Luo and other ethnic groups founded the “Kenya African Union” (KAU) in 1944, which played an important role in Kenya’s path to independence. From 1947, Kukuyu Jomo Kenyatta, who returned from London, became its chairman.Since the British colonial power did not respond to the demands of the independence movements, the conflicts between the colonial authorities and the blacks, which culminated in the so-called “Mau Mau Uprising” in 1952. The uprising against British colonial power that lasted until 1957 was led by the Kikuyu. Around 12,000 people (including around 100 whites) were killed, thousands of blacks were interned in camps, over a hundred members of the KAU and their chairman Kenyatta were imprisoned and sentenced to long prison terms. The uprising against British colonial power that lasted until 1957 was led by the Kikuyu. Around 12,000 people (including around 100 whites) were killed, thousands of blacks were interned in camps, over a hundred members of the KAU and their chairman Kenyatta were imprisoned and sentenced to long prison terms. The uprising against British colonial power that lasted until 1957 was led by the Kikuyu. Around 12,000 people (including around 100 whites) were killed, thousands of blacks were interned in camps, over a hundred members of the KAU and their chairman Kenyatta were imprisoned and sentenced to long prison terms.

The path to independence

But after the uprising ended, Britain agreed to gradually grant Kenya internal autonomy. Two relevant political movements were formed: The “Kenya African National Union” (KANU), consisting of Kikuyu and Luo, leaned on the KAU, had (the initially still imprisoned) Jomo Kenyatta as party leader and called for a centrally governed Kenya. Around the same time (May 1960) the “Kenya African Democratic Union” (KADU), an alliance of the political organizations of the smaller ethnic groups that had existed until then, was founded. The KADU provided a federal structure for an independent Kenya. After the first elections in 1961, KANU was able to assert itself as the stronger party; this result was confirmed by renewed elections two years later.Kenyatta, who has since been released from custody, took over the office of Prime Minister. In December 1963, Kenya was released under the British Commonwealth. Shortly afterwards, the “Kenya African Democratic Union” (KADU) disbanded and its members joined KANU.

The Republic of Kenya

In December 1964 Kenya became a republic with Jomo Kenyatta as President (until 1978). He had a land reform carried out, which included a redistribution of land ownership and the partial expropriation of white landowners. Nevertheless, Kenyatta managed to maintain or build up a good relationship with the former colonial power of Great Britain and other industrialized countries. In 1967, Kenya founded a currency and customs union (“East African Community”, East African Community) together with Tanzania and Uganda, but it only lasted for ten years.

Domestically, Kenyatta took action against opposition movements. In 1967, after unrest, the left-wing “Kenya People’s Union” (KPU), which had formed in 1966, what was banned. After Kenyatta’s death in 1978, his deputy Daniel arap Moi became the new President of Kenya. A constitutional amendment in 1982 made KANU the only legal party. In September 1983 elections, Daniel arap Moi was confirmed as President (without candidate), as was 1988.

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In the early 1990s, the state president had to agree to the reintroduction of a multi-party system after protests and protests continued. International donors also had their financial aid to Kenya dependent on political reforms. The “Forum for the Restoration of Democracy” (FORD) was founded under the leadership of Oginga Odinga and the “Democratic Party” (DP) under Mwa Kibaki. A year after its foundation, the FORD split into two wings (FORD-Asili under Kenneth Matiba, mainly consisting of Kikuyu, and FORD-Kenya with Oginga Odinga as a leader, mainly consisting of Luo).

In the first free parliamentary elections in 26 years, the ruling KANU and Daniel arap Moi were able to hold their ground as president. Domestically, tribal rivalries and protests against the slowly progressing democratization shaped the country. In 1997, Kenya, like Somalia and Ethiopia,was hit by a flood disaster that led to supply shortages and the outbreak of epidemics. At the same time, the number of people infected with the immunodeficiency disease AIDS in Kenya and in the rest of Black Africa increased more and more (see Kenya, population).

In the December 1997 elections, the ruling party and the incumbent president were again able to prevail against the opposition parties, with the opposite side accusing the government of massive electoral fraud. In August 1998, 253 people were killed and over 5,000 injured in a bombing by Islamic fundamentalists at the US embassy in Nairobi.

The East African Community, which was founded together with Tanzania and Uganda, came into force in July 2000. In June 2001, as part of a government reshuffle, members of an opposition party (NDP, National Development Party) were appointed ministers by incumbent President Daniel arap Moi. The government came under increasing pressure in 2001 due to allegations of corruption, including at international level. International donors made their grants dependent on setting up their own anti-corruption agency.

As of December 2002, Mwai Kibaki was the third President of Kenya. In 2003, he enforced that primary school tuition is free for all children. He could not implement a constitutional amendment; the fight against corruption also characterizes his tenure. Before the parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2007, Kibaki launched the new “Party of National Union” with the PNU. His main opponent was Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. Despite serious irregularities in the election, Kibaki was named the winner, as was his PNU. In the subsequent protests, over a thousand people lost their lives and 300,000 were displaced. Kikuyu in particular was affected by the clashes with the police and in the slums.The opposition under Odinga provided the parliamentary president in January 2008 and was thus able to register a first victory. After renewed bloody fighting between hostile supporters of the conflicting parties, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan began mediating between political opponents, which ultimately led to a compromise: Kibaki appointed Odinga Prime Minister in April 2008. Odinga had two Vice Prime Ministers at his side, a member of Kibakis PNU and a representative of Odinga’s ODM. The government cabinet was the largest in Africa with 40 members.

In a peaceful referendum in August 2010, a new constitution was adopted by a large majority. Kenya is therefore a presidential republic. The President has extensive executive powers. Both the government and the armed forces are subordinate to it. With the implementation of the catalog of fundamental rights, the reforms in the fields of security and justice and the introduction of a decentralized district administration, important changes are in the offing. Kenya is becoming a decentrally structured and managed country. Kenya took a big step in this direction with the elections of March 2013: in addition to the president and vice president, governors and parliaments were elected at the district level for the first time.Uhuru Kenyatta (TNA) became president.

Kenya President