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57TH MADARAKA DAY

Don’t forget Kenya's 100th birthday

Kenya became a colony and protectorate on June 11, 1920.

In Summary
  • What are we doing to make it an occasion that this generation shall always remember? None of us will be alive 100 years from now to join in the 200th celebrations.
  • Our country was under British rule for exactly 43 years until we achieved internal self-governance on June 1, 1963.
Don’t forget Kenya's 100th birthday
Don’t forget Kenya's 100th birthday
Image: OZONE

Kenya became a colony and protectorate on June 11, 1920, under the British Empire. We shall, therefore, be celebrating our national 100th birthday in just over a week. What are we as a country doing to make it an occasion that this generation shall always remember? After all none of us will be alive 100 years from now to join in the 200th celebrations. A few, very few, who are being born now may make it.

The UK was granted the area covered by present-day Kenya, Uganda and parts of Somalia by the European negotiations that took place in Berlin, Germany, in 1884-5. The Sultanate of Zanzibar covered present-day Zanzibar and 16km coastal Strip along modern Kenya.

This came under the protection of Britain during that period. In 1920 when Kenya was created, the entire hinterland became a colony while the coastal strip became a British protectorate. The headquarters was Mombasa between 1895 to 1905. Before being named Kenya, the country was known as East Africa Protectorate.

During that brief period the area was under three British monarchs, namely, Queen Victoria, King Edward the seventh and King George the fifth. The two Commissioner Governors were Sir Arthur Hardinge and Sir Edward Northey during the period that the area was governed by the Imperial British East Africa Company, IBEAC, and the East Africa Protectorate.

The IBEAC had been chartered by the government in April 1888 to develop trade in this area and was headed by William Mackinnon. It was given a Royal Charter to administer the area from River Jubba in today’s Somalia to the present border with Tanzania. It had the powers to act like a government with powers to raise taxes, impose custom duties, administer justice among other functions.

The company wanted to exploit business opportunities in the area. By 1893 IBEAC transferred the administrative functions to the British government. On July 1, 1895 following the collapse of the company when it went into bankruptcy, the area was handed over to East Africa Association. By this time, the area had been split into two territories. These were Uganda Protectorate in 1894 and East Africa Protectorate in 1895, today’s Kenya. The two were now brought directly under the control of the Foreign Office and later in 1902 it was transferred to the Colonial Office.

The IBEAC started a project of opening the Ugandan interior but following several conflicts the company collapsed before it could start construction of the railway line. The Uganda Railway was built between 1896 and 1901 when it reached Kisumu and was undertaken by the British government.

The arrival of Lord Delamere, who found the area to be suitable for agriculture, led to extension of the area and the beginning of the arrival of White settlers. The White farmers came from the UK and South Africa and got grants of land in what came to be known as the White Highlands.

The Indians started to arrive in late 1890s mainly as construction workers on the Uganda Railways project. Others came as traders and moneylenders. By 1919, the number of Indians had grown substantially and was double the number of Europeans. This soon brought conflicts between the two races as the Indians were now being treated as an inferior race by the Europeans.

The first Parliament, known as Legislative Council, was established on October 26, 1906, following the passing of the Council in Order in London. It started as an exclusively Europeans legislature of nominated members with the first Indian, Alibhai Jeevanjee, being nominated on September 21, 1909.

It later, in 1919, evolved and allowed for some electable seats to be created, but this was after much pressure from the settlers. The Council in Order also led to the appointment of the first Colonial Governor, Lieutenant Colonel Hayes Sadler, as the previous ones had been commissioners. This was the structure of the government by June 11, 1920, when our country was born under the Administration of Governor Major General Sir Edward Northey. The rest is history.

I appeal to the government to come up with an appropriate programme of celebrating this important day in our history. Our country was under British rule for exactly 43 years until we achieved internal self-governance on June 1, 1963. As we celebrate our 57th Madaraka Day, let us not forget that we should also celebrate our one 100th birthday only 10 days later.