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A Brief History Of Kenya

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Cushitic groups first settled in Kenya in
2000BC, Arabs and Persian merchants traded along
its coastline. To successfully ply their trade, they needed
to successfully communicate with
the Bantu people they found there, and this is how
Kiswahili came into being. In fact, many words in the Swahili language are
borrowed from the Arabs.

This was only the beginning of political jostling for control of Kenya’s coastline.
In 1498, the Portuguese ventured in and developed the port of Mombasa.
In 1600 control shifted to the Imam of Oman, and by the 19th
the British took over Kenya.

In 1885, at the Berlin Conference, the European powers divided
East Africa into territories they considered their own and in 1920,
and Britain formed an East African Protectorate in which only
they could hold positions of power.

This opened the floodgates for British families to stream into
the country and settle on the Kenyan highlands.
It was only in 1944 that Africans and Asians could participate in politics.
This year also marked the beginning of work on the Kenya-Uganda
railway which brought an influx of thousands of Indian
railway workers, who finally settled in Kenya thereafter to
form the Asian community in the country.

Colonial British rule was unwelcome and finally led to the
formation of the famous resistance movement known as
Mau Mau, whose members majorly came from
the Kamba, Meru, Embu and Kikuyu tribes. Jomo Kenyatta became its leader

The fight for freedom led by the oath-taking members of the
Mau Mau was relentless and effective so the British finally
decided to try and scuttle the movement by arresting its
leader – Jomo Kenyatta – whom they jailed for seven years in Kapenguria.

Some other members such as Dedan Kimathi were also
arrested for being part of the movement. In 1956,
Kimathi was hanged, and between 1952 and 1959 Kenya was declared to be in
a state of emergency as the fight against Colonial rule intensified.

The British continued to detain Mau Mau fighters and it was
only in 1957 that Asians and Africans joined Europeans in the
Kenya Legislative Council.
Political agitation led to the release of Jomo Kenyatta
from prison in 1962 and when Kenya attained independence on
December 12th 1963, he became its first Prime Minister.
It was in 1964 that Kenya was recognized as a republic with Kenyatta as its first president.
This is also when Kenya joined the British Commonwealth.

The political party arena started to take shape and in
1966 Jaramogi Oginga Odinga formed the Kenya People’s Union.
As Vice President and Luo elder Jaramogi commanded
a lot of respect in the Nyanza region.
However, his political party was banned and Kenyan reverted to a
one-part-State with Jaramogi’s arrest in 1969.

In August 1978, President Kenyatta died and Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi became president.
It was only in 1991 that Parliament amended the Kenya Constitution to allow for
multi-party democracy.

Moi remained in power until 2002 when President Mwai Kibaki was elected.

After his election to a second term as president in December 2007,
political violence broke out in parts of the country as some claimed
the elections were rigged.

Property and lives were lost during this sad time for a country that had never tasted civil strife.
More on the history of Kenya…

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