The road to independence in Kenya just like in Uganda was not peaceful. Though the colony had a Legislative council established in 1921, it had peculiar problems like Settler dominance which led to the development of secret political activities.
Between 1945 and 1963, many political groups were formed but they all varied in their plans of how to achieve independence. Some advocated for violence and others for peaceful means. With the exception of a few, many of these were tribal groupings.
However, the Mau - Mau movement achieved ascendancy over the other groups. It was formed in 1946 in Kikuyu land from the "fourty groups" and was mainly composed of extremist World War Il ex - servicemen.
Its main concern was the high level of poverty, unemployment, the high cost of living, low standards of living, the loss of land to the Settlers and the slow constitutional progress. Basing on these grievances the movement planned to overthrow the colonial government.
By 1950, the movement had started acting violently, raiding shops, killing Africans sympathetic to the government, Asians and Europeans and destroying European farms.
By 1952, the group had established bases in the Abardare forest from where they spread their networks to the highlands, rift valley and Nairobi.
The Kikuyu group stationed in Nairobi was supposed to feed the guerillas with government plans against them.
The British government realized the threat posed by this militant group and on 20th Oct 1952, the new governor Sir Evelyn Baring declared it illegal and unlawful. But this did not stop the Mau Mau fighters from continuing with their political activities.
In June 1946, Eliudi Mathu the first African member to the Legco formed a less extreme (moderate)
movement called the Kenya African Union (KAU).
Jomo Kenyatta who had stayed in England for over 15 years returned and took over from James Gichuru as the leader of the KAU.
Though with a tribal outlook (mainly composed of Kikuyu) the movement (KAU) soon spread to other areas.
By 1951, a split occurred in the movement between the extremists and moderates. The faction of the moderates wanted the Chairman of the movement (Jomo Kenyatta) to denounce the Mau - Mau militant activities.
KAU under Kenyatta continued with the peaceful ways of agitating for independence, demanding for a large share in government but his failure to reach an understanding with the government strengthened the extremist group.
After World War II (1945) an influx of White settlers to Kenya took place. At the same time, Sir Philip
Mitchell began the first steps towards the establishment of a multi - racial government.
In 1945, members of the executive (official and unofficial) were given responsibility in some government departments .
In 1946, a second African member was nominated to the Legislative council.
In 1948, it was made clear that Europeans could not have a majority in the Legco; African representation was thus increased to four members with one Arab and one Asian.
This however did not please anyone, as each group was suspicious of the growing strength of the other. Therefore each group started demanding for concessions.
KAU demanded for more Africans on the council. The governor appointed one more African, but the
party (KAU) refused this, it wanted equal representation with other races and elections organized on a
The Settlers on the other hand, wanted a White unofficial majority on the council and a rejection by the British government of the African nationalism. They even threatened to take action if their demands were not met.
The new governor, Sir Evelyn Baring who had just arrived to replace Sir Philip Mitchell found himself in a difficult situation. He was forced to declare a state of emergency and ban all political activities.
Between 1955 and 1960 there was little success as far as fighting the Mau - Mau was concerned. Supplies and information reached them in the forests and their activities continued unabated. Tom Mbotela the
Vice President of KA U was killed in the confusion.
With the banning of all political parties, Jomo Kenyatta and other leaders of the Mau - Mau were arrested, charged and sentenced to sewn years in prison.
Throughout this period, the rounding up of people continued. At one time in 1954, 26000 Kikuyus were rounded up for failing to explain their presence in Nairobi.
The crackdown on those accused of associating with the Mau - Mau continued, Gen. China was arrested in 1954 and Dedan Kimathi in 1956.
By 1960, the government had successfully arrested and imprisoned the leaders of me movement and those associated with it. The emergency was declared over the same year.
Many people however found themselves in prison, killed and others forced into reserves. The war had also been so costly to the British government. It had spent over £ 50 million on suppressing the war People lived in fear and uncertainty; this was post Mau - Mau period.
In 1954, there was more constitutional advance when the Colonial Secretary O. Lyttelton visited Kenya and produced a plan for a multi - racial council of ministers to replace the executive. The unofficial members included one African, two Asians and two Europeans.
At the same time however, many Europeans were divided. The moderates led by Michael Blundell accepted the principle of a united government and the extremists led by Captain Briggs wanted White dominance.
In 1955, political parties were allowed to operate but only at a local level. This led to the rise of new rulers in the Legco.
By 1958, these included Tom Mboya, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Daniel Arap Moi, Ronald Njala, Jeremiah Nyagah and Dr. Julius Kiano.
1n 1959, Africans in the Legislative council led by Tom Mboya boycotted the elections and demanded a constitutional conference and the release of Jomo Kenyatta. Kenyatta was believed to be the only figure that could unite all the Kenyans.
In 1960, a constitutional conference sat at the Lancaster House in London and held discussions for over a month, marred by disagreements between Mr. Njala and Tom Mboya on one side and Captain Briggs on the other.
A compromise was finally reached, there were to be twelve specially elected members, thirty three open seats, twenty reserved seats (two Arabs, eight Asians and ten Europeans) a council of ministers consisting of eight unofficial members (four Africans, one Asian and three Europeans) and four official members.
This arrangement was accepted by the Africans on a temporary basis, since they had got the majority on the unofficial side of the Legco and had some control over the reserved seats
However, the Europeans were not happy with Blundell (he had betrayed them). Some started repatriating their capital out of the country.
The speaker angrily resigned and the Settlers demanded for compensation from the British government so that they could sell their farms and return to Britain or shift to other countries.
In 1960, the majority of Africans on the Legco formed a new political party called the Kenya African National Union (KANU). James Gichuru was its Chairman / President, Oginga Odinga the Vice and Tom Mboya the General Secretary.
However, some African leaders opposed KANU as being too town centered, dominated by Kikuyu and too radical.
As a result, the Kalenjin, Maasai and others tribes from Nyanza and the coast formed another party called Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU).
This new party was led by Mr. Ronald Ngala, Masinde Muliro and Daniel arap Moi. It advocated for a federal constitution to limit the Luo and Kikuyu dominance in post independent Kenya.
In 1951, Blundell formed the multi - racial Kenya National Party (KNP), which was composed of mainly moderate African leaders.
In 1961, KANU won the elections with nineteen seats while KADU got eleven seats. However, KANU
refused to form a government as long as Kenyatta was still in prison.
In August 1961, Kenyatta was released and in January 1962 he was elected to the Legco. When his attempt to unite KANU and KADU failed, he became the President of KANU.
In February 1962, the second Lancaster Conference was organised. A temporary alliance was formed between KADU and KANU to work out a new constitution. Eventually a new constitution was drawn.
In May 1963, elections were organised. KANU won eighty-three seats and KADU got fourty one seats. On 1st June 1963, Kenya became self - governing and Jomo Kenyatta was appointed the Prime
Kenyatta deliberately appointed some opposition members to his government.
On 12th December 1963, Kenya finally achieved total independence. Over 250,000 people gathered at
Uhuru Stadium to witness the occasion.