A concise 20th century Kenya history
20th century Kenya can be traced back to the time Britain colonized the territory in 1895 with the establishment of its East Africa Protectorate that bordered as far as Lake Naivasha to the west and added Uganda in 1902, becoming a crown colony in 1920. The colonial rule in Kenya history saw the influx of English and other European settlers in the Rift Valley as well as surrounding areas as they enriched themselves on large-scale coffee production In Kenya using local labor. Despite having no rich mineral deposit like gold or diamonds in South Africa, Kenya attracted white immigrants for its fertile grounds.
As the WWI ensued between 1914 and 1918, Kenya served as a base for the British military efforts to overcome Germany supremacy in the continent which remained victorious until the armistice ended the war in 1918.
During WWII between 1939 and 1945, Kenya once again served as an important military base, this time launching successful military campaigns against the Italian colonies of Ethiopia and Somaliland. While the war compensated about 98,000 trained men called “askaris” including Kenyans who served in the King’s African Rifles (KAR) and other military branches, it also nurtured the seeds that sparked African nationalism.
After the war, Kenya history shows that former servicemen who amassed socio-economic gains in the KAR sought middle-class privileges and employment and started to challenge relationships with the colonial order. KAR service and a modernized Kenyan defense force have evolved Africans who by this time developed distinctive socio-economic perceptions that proved seminal in seeking independence for their countries after the war, Kenya included.
But as recent Kenya history shows, it took another 20 years for independence to finally come to Kenya with the establishment of the Republic of Kenya in 1964. The British knew its empire was coming to an end and agreed to step down peacefully from the colonial coalition governing its African territories between 1950 and 1973. To this end, a new constitution was drafted by the British along with a few of the local politicos. It was adopted in 1963 effectively ending the British colonial rule in Kenya. But the country would not see stability until after more than half a century later with the 2010 Kenya constitution.
The newly formed independent Kenya came under the Kenya African National Union or KANU headed by Jomo Kenyatta who ruled the country from 1963 to 1978. Daniel Arap Moi succeeded Kenyatta until 2002. The US pressured Moi to institute multi-party reforms and dismantle his repressive policies that while proving useful and overlooked during the cold war, lost their place after the collapse of communism. Nevertheless, Moi’s corrupt government and human rights abuses were uncovered and he was banned constitutionally from seeking re-election in the 2002 election that was won by Mwai Kibabki. The succeeding 2007 election saw widespread electoral fraud that precipitated the Kenyan crisis of 2007–2008 and revived efforts to a revised 2010 Kenya Constitution