History Kenya

Nationalism in Kenya during the Colonial Period


The publication of Devonshire Paper(which declared Kenya an African country, but still gave the colonial office imperial powers) and the occupation of the so-called White Highlands angered Kenyans. Western, Rift Valley and the central parts became the hotbed of militant political activity.

The early chiefs and community leaders – from Luhyaland, Maasailand and Gikuyuland, Meruland, Ukambani and Nandi – fought the invading europeans but were repulsed.

Kenyans were opposed to the British spirited take-over of their land and the disruption of their social, economic and political life. The militancy would go a notch higher with the return of Kenyans who had fought in the First World War.

With the exposure they had in foreign lands, they brought together groups that rebelled against authority. But Governor George Edward Northey, the man who replaced the rupee with the shilling, discouraged Kenyans from growing cash crops and directed that wages for farm workers be slashed. This angered Kenyans more and placed them on collision course with the colonial administration.

Reserves to which Kenyans had been cornered to were over-crowded, and this led to the clamour for more land. The enforcement of kipande(the earlier form of an identity card), forced female labour and heavy tax made the situation even worse.

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