The long journey to political freedom in Kenya started in 1895 soon after Kenya was declared a British Protectorate. It was due to European colonial domination that Kenya experienced diverse problems. Even after 1920 when Kenya became a British colony, the Africans pressed for a quick return to basic human freedom and political independence.

African nationalists established several political associations to express their grievances against all malpractices that came with colonial occupation. After 1940, these associations broadened their membership base and became national rather than ethnic organizations.

After 1945, Africans actively took part in trade unionism, coupled with radical nationalism, whose emergence and magnitude was well manifested in the Maumau war.



 Name the political organizations that were formed in Kenya by 1939.

(Outline the early political organizations in Kenya by 1939).

  • Kikuyu Association.
  • East African Association.
  • Young Kikuyu Association.
  • Kikuyu Central Association.
  • Kavirondo Tax payers & welfare Association. Ø Ukamba Members Association Ø Coast African Association.
  • Taita Hills Association.
  • The Young Kavirondo Association.

State the common grievances of early political organizations in Kenya by 1939.

  • Land alienation.
  • Forced labour.
  • The “Kipande” system.
  • Better wages for Africans.
  • Quality education and better working conditions for Africans.
  • The onslaught on valued African customs like Polygamy, Female Circumcision and traditional African religious practices.
  • Racial discrimination, especially in provision of social facilities like housing, health and education.

Explain the characteristics of early political organizations in Kenya. (Explain the features of political organizations formed in Kenya before 1939.)

Most were led by Mission-educated young men like Harry Thuku, Jonathan Okwiri and Jimmy Mwambichi.

  • They got material and moral support from Asians.
  • They were confined to one or two ethnic groups, though formation of the East African Association was an indication of the desire towards regional cooperation.
  • They had similar grievances such as Land alienation, forced labour and taxation.
  • They had limited membership.
  • They were regarded by many Africans as a preserve of the educated elites.
  • They did not demand political independence but better living conditions and an end to European economic exploitations.

Explain why many African political associations emerged in the interwar period (1919 to 1939). (In what ways did the interwar period contribute to African political awareness? Or:

Explain how the First World War facilitated/led to political awakening in Africa. Or:

In what ways did the First World War contribute to African political awareness?) Ø African participation, especially in the first World War.

  • Many Africans realized that they shared numerous interests and problems as they met and compared their experiences.
  • A sense of unity was created among Africans as they met and interacted in war zones.
  • On seeing the Europeans wounded, crying and suffering like them, Africans discovered that the White man was not very different from them.
  • Unlike their White counterparts, African exe soldiers neither benefited in terms of land allocation nor received the compensation promised as a reward for taking part in the war.
  • The “Kipande” system, which was introduced in 1920, was used to force Africans to provide labour to the European settlers, sometimes without pay.
  • Very short notice was given for the change of currency from the Indian Rupee to the Shilling in 1921, which hurt Africans most.
  • With the change of Kenya‟s status from a protectorate to a colony in 1920, the Africans began to see every move by the colonial government as an attempt to politically entrench the settlers.

Discuss the formation and demands of early political organizations in Kenya by 1939. (Discuss African political activities in Kenya by 1939. Or:

Analyse the political organizations that were formed in Kenya by 1939.)


This was formed in 1920 under Paramount Chief Kinyanjui WA Gathirimu and Chief Koinange WA Mbiu. Its demands or grievances were:

  • Return of Agikuyu land taken by Europeans.
  • An end to further African land alienation.
  • Abolition of the “Kipande” system, which had just been introduced through the Native Registration Ordinance.
  • Increase rather than the proposed reduction of wages after the First World War when the Rupee was replaced by the Shilling.

Apart from its two founders, other members of the Kikuyu Association included:

  • Josiah Njonjo,
  • Philip Karanja,
  • Matthew Njoroge, Ø Waweru Wamahiu,
  • Waruhiu Wa Kung‟u.

The Kikuyu Association mainly comprised African chiefs loyal to the colonial administration but who were concerned about its above-mentioned grievances. Because of its mild approach, its impact was not felt. But soon, it attracted many Christian converts and urban residents in Nairobi such as Harry Thuku and Abdala Tairara.

However, Thuku and his followers disagreed with the leaders of the Kikuyu Association because of Thuku‟s radical views against the colonial government, prompting his founding and formation of the Young Kikuyu Association, which was later renamed the East African Association.


Name the founder-members of the Young Kikuyu Association.

The Young Kikuyu Association was pioneered by:

  • Harry Thuku,
  • Abdala Tairara,
  • Mwalimu Hamisi,
  • Muhamed Sharif.

The Young Kikuyu Association was greatly inspired by the Young Baganda Association in Uganda and adopted a radical approach, probably because it was led by young men.

 State the demands/grievances of the Young Kikuyu Association.

  • Return of African land.
  • Better working conditions for Africans. Ø Reduction of taxes.
  • Withdrawal or improvement of the “Kipande” system. Ø Title deeds for land holders.
  • Increase rather than reduction of Africans‟ wages.
  • Better living conditions for both employed and unemployed Africans.

The Young Kikuyu Association attracted members from different communities such as the Agikuyu and the Akamba, especially in Nairobi.


Name the members of the East African Association.

From 1921, the Young Kikuyu Association enjoyed membership of the Ugandans, Malawians and Tanzanians. It was therefore renamed the East African Association in order to accommodate all communities and religions and promote unity among Africans. Among its members were:

  • Johnston Kamau (Jomo Kenyatta),
  • Norman Mboya,
  • Abdala bin Asumah,
  • Kibwana bin Kombo,
  • Jesse Kariuki,
  • Joseph Kang‟ethe,
  • Harry Thuku,
  • George Samuel Okoth,
  • James Mwathi,
  • K Sentogo,
  • Maitei Ole Mootian,
  • Muhamed Sheikh,
  • Melange Ole sempele.

The association was well organized. Harry Thuku was also supported by the Indians, who supplied him with a car, enabling him to travel nationwide, especially to Kisumu, and helped him politically by publishing memoranda written by the East African Association addressing African grievances. Thuku tried to develop contacts with the Pan African Movement and even sought help from the colonial office in London, which cost him his Government job. He instead took advantage of this by travelling and politicising his ideas in different parts of Kenya.

Thuku and the East African Association gained unparalleled popularity in the early 1920s. His influence was so great that the colonial government had to organize political campaigns in different parts of central Kenya and to counter his influence.  

What were the demands of the East African Association?

  • Return of land taken from Africans by White Settlers and the colonial government.
  • Revocation of Kenya‟s colonial status by the British. Ø Provision of better education for Africans.
  • Organization of Legico elections on a Common Roll for all races.
  • A Wage increase for African urban labourers.
  • Abolition of the Hut tax, which was exclusively paid by the Africans. Ø An end to forced labour.
  • Abolition of the “Kipande” system.

Alarmed by the radical approach adopted by the East African Association, the colonial government ordered Thuku‟s arrest and detention at what is now Nairobi Central Police station, next to Norfolk hotel. This triggered tension between the colonial police and Thuku‟s supporters, which led to the massacre of many Africans. Thuku was deported to Kismayu as his colleagues (Waiganjo and Mugekendi) were banished to Lamu. The East African Association was then banned.

Explain the impact of Harry Thuku’s arrest and deportation by the colonial government in early 1920s.

  • Africans in Kenya realized that the colonial government was determined to maintain an iron rule in Kenya.
  • African political parties that succeeded the East African Association became even more radical in their approach.
  • The Governor of Kenya (General Edward Northey) was recalled to London in June 1922 for mishandling the Thuku affair.
  • Because of his determination, Thuku was hailed by African Kenyan communities as the undisputed flag bearer of Kenyan nationalism prior to formation of later political parties


Name the founders of the Kikuyu central Association.

The Kikuyu Central Association was formed in 1924 from the remnants of Harry Thuku‟s East African Association. Among its founders were:

  • Joseph Kang’ethe,
  • Jesse Kariuki,
  • Henry Gichuru,
  • Job Muchuchu,
  • James Beauttah.

The colonial government regarded these founders and others of their like as extremists. it closely monitored their activities.

The Kikuyu Central Association was formed at Kahuhia in what is now Murang’a, with Joseph Kang’ethe as its president.

What were the objectives of the Kikuyu Central Association?

  • Return of land taken from the Agikuyu by the settlers.
  • Reduction of taxes
  • An end of racial discrimination.
  • Lifting the ban on cash crop cultivation among Africans.
  • Release of Harry Thuku.
  • Appointment of a well-educated Paramount chief elected by the majority of the Agikuyu.
  • Establishment of a secondary school, training facilities for hospital workers and a girl’s school.
  • An end to the compulsory demolition of houses condemned as unsanitary by the colonial officials.
  • Translation of all colonial laws into Gikuyu language for all members of the community to under stand them.
  • Revocation of the 1915 Crown Land Ordinance, by which all Africans had been made tenants on their own land at the will of the Crown.
  • Abolition of the “Kipande” laws.

The Kikuyu Central Association presented its demands to the governor, who agreed to them when he visited Murang‟a in 1925.

In 1927, KCA moved its headquarters from Murang‟a to Nairobi for more and better contacts with the Agikuyu elite and more Africans in Nairobi. This was fruitful when

Kenyatta became KCA‟s secretary-General, taking over from James Beauttah.  Kenyatta strived to strengthen and broaden KCA, e.g. by starting a Party newspaper

called “Muiguithania” (Conciliator), which was instrumental in reviving the cultural values of the Agikuyu, most of which were under constant Christian Missionary attack.

Identify the demands of the Kikuyu Central Association that Kenyatta presented to the Hilton Young Commission

The Hilton Young Commission was set up to look into the question of federation of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. On behalf of KCA, Kenyatta presented the following demands to this commission:

  • Appointment of African representatives to the Legislative Council.
  • Introduction of free primary school education for Africans by the government.
  • Abandoning of proposed East African federation, which K.C.A felt would have made the White settlers too powerful in the village.
  • Provisions of secondary and higher education for the handicapped.
  • Granting of title deeds to Africans as a guarantee against any further land alienation.
  • Abolition of the “Kipande” law. Ø Release of Harry Thuku.

In the late 1920s, conflict ensued between KCA and Christian missionaries over the Agikuyu Female Circumcision tradition. All supporters of the practice were expelled from their Missions, giving impetus to the Independent churches and school movements in central Kenya.

In 1929, KCA sent Kenyatta to London: Britain, to present Agikuyu grievances to the colonial office. Kenyatta was accompanied by Pamenas Mukiri. The Land issue was high on KCA‟s campaign agenda.

KCA also helped Agikuyu elders in preparing evidence to the Kenya Land Commission in 1931 and continued to defend and fight for African welfare until 1940 when it was banned alongside Ukamba Members Association and the Taita Hills Association.


This emerged as the Young Kavirondo Association at Ludha in Central Nyanza in December 1921. It was founded mainly by Luo and Abaluhyia mission-educated men.

Name the founders of the Young Kavirondo Association.

  • Jonathan Okwiri,
  • Simeon Nyende,
  • Benjamin Owor,
  • Reuben Omulo,
  • Ezekiel Apindi,
  • George Samuel Okoth,
  • Mathayo Otieno,
  • Joel Omino, Ø Jolmeo Okaka.

These founders held a meeting that called itself The Voice Of The People, at which they discussed the various issues affecting the African communities.

Explain the demands of the Young Kavirondo Association.

The demands of the Young Kavirondo Association were similar to those of the East African Association except for the following additionals:

  • A separate Legislative Council for Nyanza Province, with an elected African President. They therefore wanted self government for Nyanza.
  • Establishment of more government schools in Central Nyanza.
  • Creation of Paramount Chiefs for central and southern Nyanza just like Paramount Chief Mumia of Wanga in the then North Nyanza.

At a meeting with Governor Edward Northey at Nyahera in Kisumu, which was organized by the Nyanza Provincial Commissioner: Owen in July 1922, governor Northey pointed out to Young Kavirondo association representatives that he would authorise the closing down of labour camps in the region and reduce taxation and forced labour, but that the revocation of the Crown Colony status of Kenya was out of the question.

To prevent the Young Kavirondo Association from turning into a radical organization, Archdeacon Owen spearheaded change of its name to Kavirondo Taxpayers Welfare Association and its main objectives from political grievances to social concerns such as better houses, food, clothing, education and hygiene. The Association‟s main focus eventually changed to welfare matters such as campaigns for the digging of pit latrines, killing of rats and keeping compounds clean in order to eradicate  sleeping sickness, Malaria and other diseases. The association adopted a new but radically different constitution, which was approved by the colonial government.

In 1931, the Kavirondo Taxpayers Welfare Association split up into Abaluhyia and Luo factions. While the Luo remained under and observed the leadership of Archdeacon Owen until 1944, The Abaluhyia faction formed the North Kavirondo

Central Association, which maintained close links with the Kikuyu Central Association, for Abaluhyia were unhappy about the Kakamega Gold Rush of the 1930s and the then KCA was created mainly to stop any further land alienation for European use without compensation.

By 1944, the Kavirondo Taxpayers Welfare Association had lost most of its political form since most of its top leaders had already been co-opted into the colonial administration. Jonathan Okwiri was made chief while Benjamin Owor and Simeon Nyende were made members of the Local Native Council in central Nyanza. This led to the Association‟s extinction that very year.


Name the founders of Ukamba Members Association.

Ukamba Members Association was formed in 1938, spearheaded by:

  • Samuel Muindi Mbingu,
  • Elijah Kavula,
  • Isaac Mwalonzi,
  • Simon Kioko,
  • Ali Kilonzi, Ø James Mwanthi,
  • Muhamed Sheikh.

Its main purpose was to fight for land and other issues that affected the Akamba. Leaders of Ukamba Members Association (UMA) were locally educated and were employed as either teachers or civil servants. They were greatly assisted by the Kikuyu Central Association, which introduced them to Asian lawyers like Madan, who helped them write memoranda to the colonial Kenya Government and to the Secretary of State for Colonies in London.

What were the grievances of Ukamba Members Association?

(State the demands of Ukamba Members Association.)

  • The destocking policy adopted by the colonial government.
  • Loss of their land to the Europeans.
  • Seizure of their livestock by the colonial government for sale to the meat plant at low prices.
  • Forced labour.

By the 1930s, there was a pressing need for grazing land, which was scarce since most arable land was already in European hands. This led to overstocking and soil erosion in areas inhabited by the Akamba.

To correct the situation, the colonial government introduced various measures, including destocking. The colonial government seized and sold Akamba livestock to the Lebigs meat processing plant below the market price.

Under Muindi Mbingu, UMA organized a protest match against these colonial measures. The protest was staged in Nairobi and lasted for six weeks and was ended when the government agreed to talk about and conceded to Akamba demands at a meeting in Machakos.

In September 1938, the colonial government had Muindi Mbingu arrested and deported to Lamu. UMA was proscribed alongside the Kikuyu central Association and the Taita Hills Association at the beginning of the Second World War.


This was formed in 1943, influenced by Arabs and Asians, who had already formed the Coast Arab Association and the Indian Congress.

Name the founders of the Coast African Association.

The Coast African Association was pioneered by:

  • Noah Mwanasele,
  • Muhamed Bin Mwichange,
  • E W Timothy,
  • H G Banks,
  • Muhamed Bin Omar,
  • Enoch H G Harrison,
  • Francis Hamisi,
  • Ronald Ngala.

What were the grievances of the Coast African Association?

The Coast African Association emerged when various Coast African political leaders teamed up and presented the following grievances against the colonial government:

  • Replacement of uneducated chiefs with educated Africans in the local Native Council.
  • Appointment of African colonial officials.
  • Elevation of Shimo La Tewa School to a high school.
  • Basic literacy and numeracy, through which adult Africans could pursue and acquire Western education.
  • Use of taxes collected from African traditional drinks for improvement of African facilities.
  • A revocation of land allocation to Arabs and Asians, who owned large tracts of land at the expense of the Mijikenda.
  • Representation of the association and the Coastal peoples in the Legico.

Unlike other groupings, the coast African Association sent memoranda to the government, probably to avoid punishment. The association established a newspaper:

The Coast African Express, through which it articulated its grievances.

In 1955, the association began to disintegrate and suffered Leadership wrangles following the departure of Francis Hamisi and Ronald Ngala, who joined the Mombasa African Democratic union and the Legico.


What were the achievements of the Coast African Association? (Explain the successes of the Coast African Association.) Ø Improvement of education facilities.

  • Elevation of the Shimo La Tewa School.
  • Appointment and representation of the Mijikenda in the Legico.


This was formed in 1939 and was closely modelled on the KCA and UMA organizational styles.

What were the grievances of Taita Hills Association?

Among the concerns of Taita Hills Association were:

  • Equal political status of the Taita in relation to other subjects.
  • Land alienation, whereby all fertile Taita land was occupied by European settlers, who converted it into coffee plantations.
  • Forced labour, whereby the Taita were forced to work on European coffee plantations and ferry the coffee harvests over long distances for very low wages.
  • Colonial destocking policy, through which the government intended to reduce livestock in the Taita hills region.
  • Forced migration of the Wadawida to Samburu to create room for the white settlers.
  • Introduction of the “Kipande” system. Ø Taxation, especially Hut and Poll tax.

Name the founders of Taita Hills Association.

Among the founder-members of Taita Hills Association were:

  • Woresho Kolandi Mengo,
  • Jimmy Mwambichi,
  • Paul Chumbo.

Taita Hills Association drew its membership from all over Taita District. The association adopted the use of protest letters to the colonial government.

Explain the reforms that were adopted by the colonial government in response to continued agitation by Taita Hills Association.

The coast Provincial Commissioner considered Taita Hills Association an association of agitators and recommended that it be changed into a welfare association.

Due to continued agitation, the colonial government changed its mind through the following reform measures:

  • It shelved its plan of moving the Wataita from their ancestral land in the hills to the plains.
  • It reverted the Taita Reserve boundaries and reduced the land initially carved out for European settlement.
  • It stopped the destocking measures among the Wataita.

Identify the setbacks encountered by Taita Hills Association.

(What problems did Taita Hills Association face in its struggle for freedom?)

In spite of its achievements, the Taita Hills Association experienced many problems such as the following:

  • It failed to attract prominent personalities in Taita.
  • Some African groupings in the region e.g. the Wataveta and Wagisiga were reluctant to join it.
  • Arrest and deportation of its leaders to Nakuru.
  • It was banned or proscribed alongside other groups.
  • Detention of its leaders in Kapenguria.

Explain the achievements of early political organizations in Kenya.

In spite of the many challenges they encountered, early political parties in colonial Kenya realized many achievements such as:

  • Political education to the African communities through political rallies. The masses were enlightened on various injustices committed by the colonial government and on how to stop further exploitation and repression.
  • They communicated the communities‟ feelings to the colonial government through publications, memoranda and speeches.
  • They defended African cultures against further erosion by European Missionaries.
  • They re-awakened the masses by making them conscious of the political situation in the country.
  • They fought for workers‟ welfare in the absence of formal trade unions by demanding better wages as well as living and working conditions.
  • They publicised the grievances of the Africans to the international community. For example, Jomo Kenyatta presented the grievances of the Africans to the British public.
  • They helped promote wider nationalism by forging intercommunity relations in the struggle for freedom.

Explain the problems experienced by early political organizations in colonial Kenya.

Political organizations formed in Kenya between 1919-1939 found themselves in many difficulties such as:

  • Harassment and arrest of their members by the colonial government, which demoralized them.
  • Political wrangles among the members.
  • Lack of administration and political experience among the leaders.
  • Financial problems due to land alienation, taxation and poor working conditions.
  • Disunity since most organizations were ethnic based.
  • Eventual banning of these organizations by the colonial government in 1940.



State the main reason for emergence of Independent Churches and Schools in Colonial Kenya.

  • Independent churches and schools in colonial Kenya emerged as an expression of African protest against European colonial interference with African traditional economic, political, social and cultural organization.

Explain the factors that led to emergence of independent churches and schools in colonial Kenya. (Explain why independent churches and schools emerged in colonial Kenya. or:

What factors facilitated emergence of independent churches and schools in colonial Kenya? or:

Explain the basis/reasons for emergence of independent churches and schools in colonial Kenya.)

  • African displeasure with the Westernizing influence of Christian Missionaries, who taught against African customs such as Polygamy and Female Circumcision.
  • African perception of Mission education as inadequate since it mostly prepared Africans for junior government or job positions, most of which were manual.
  • Colonial domination and exploitation, characterised by payment of taxes, the “Kipande”, forced labour and racial discrimination in the provision of social services. Ø African perception of European Missionaries as agents of the wider colonial system.
  • African desire for leadership in their own churches, for they lacked say in the Mission churches, where European Missionaries were major decision makers.
  • Independent churches were started by Africans who claimed to have received divine calling e.g. John Owalo and Elijah Masinde.
  • African dissatisfaction concerning Missionary interpretation of the Christian scriptures. For instance, the Holy Spirit church split from mainstream churches on this account.
  • Lack of accommodation for traditional African expression of worship such as dancing and drum-beating in the Mission churches.
  • To sensitize the Africans on their rights and the evils of colonialism.
  • To have control over what was being taught in addition to provision of wider educational opportunities for Africans.

Identify the areas/places in Kenya where independent churches and schools developed.

Independent churches and schools developed in areas that felt the impact of colonial rule more substantially such as:

  • Kikuyuland,
  • Luhyialand,

State the characteristics of independent churches and schools in colonial Kenya.

(What were the features of independent churches and schools in colonial Kenya?)  Their leadership was African.

They valued Christianity and Western education, but were against the Westernizing Missionary influence.

They accommodated African cultural values.

They worked closely with African political associations.

Name the independent churches that emerged in colonial Kenya.

Independent churches that emerged in colonial Kenya include:

  • The African Orthodox Church,
  • African Independent Pentecostal Church,
  • “Nomiya” Luo Church,
  • Dini Ya Roho,
  • Christian Universal Evangelical Union,
  • Dini ya Msambwa,
  • Joroho Church in Ugenya.

 Describe two independent school movements that emerged in colonial Kenya.

  • The Kikuyu Independent Schools Association (KISA), which was closely associated with the African Independent Pentecostal Church and was prominent in Murang‟a, Nyeri and Embu.
  • The Kikuyu Karing‟a Education Association (KKEA), which was closely linked to the Kikuyu Central Association and was against all forms of cooperation with the Europeans. It was strong in Kiambu and was affiliated to the African Orthodox Church.


Describe the independent churches that emerged in Western Kenya region during the colonial period.

  • “Nomiya” Luo Mission, which was the first independent education and religious movement.
  • The Christian Universal Evangelist Union, which was set up in 1938 by Ismael Noo, who was a teacher and preacher from Sakwa in Central Nyanza.
  • Dini Ya Roho, which was founded among Abaluhyia in 1927 after splitting from the Friends African Mission in Western Kenya. Its members believed in baptism by the Holy Spirit and emphasized speaking in tongues as well as open confession of sins.
  • Joroho church, which was founded by Alfayo Odongo Mango in 1932 among the Luo, particularly of Ugenya.


Analyse Independent Church Movement activities in Nyanza.


This was the first independent education and religious movement in Kenya. It was started and led by John Owalo, who received wide education and experience from several mission schools. He started as a Roman Catholic, then joined the Scottish Mission at Kikuyu and later the CMS schools at Maseno and Nairobi.

In 1907, Owalo is said to have had a vision in which he was directed by God to start his own religion. He therefore founded the “Nomiya” Luo Mission in 1910. “Nomiya

Mission” means „the Mission that was given to me‟ or „the mission that I was given‟.  Owalo denied the divinity of Jesus, though he accepted that Jesus was a prophet and a son of God. According to the beliefs of his mission, Owalo supposedly lived in heaven with God‟s angels.

Within a few years, Owalo had built his own primary school, the first Independent school in Kenya. He aimed at establishing a secondary school free from Missionary interference. He demanded African representation in local councils.

Disturbed at Owalo‟s “rebellion”, the CMS missionaries at Maseno investigated but could not stop his movement. Even Ainsworth: the Nyanza provincial Commissioner could not prevent Owalo from starting his own mission.

Owalo and his movement was a good illustration of African Christian determination to run their own churches and schools and their right to reject or accept some of the White man‟s teachings.


This church was set up in 1938 by Ismael Noo, who was a teacher and preacher from Sakwa in Central Nyanza. Noo was originally connected with the Anglican Church of Maseno.

Following the Revival movement in Uganda but which had reached the Anglican Church in Maseno, many Africans from Nyanza and Western Kenya were converted, with Ismael Noo as their leader. This movement insisted on Salvation by the Blood of Jesus and on public confession of sins.

Most of Noo‟s followers were women, particularly second and third wives of unsaved and polygamous husbands, who left their homes and went to live in Noo‟s home to the disappointment of their husbands, who accused Noo and his followers of having immoral relations with their wives and daughters, a fact that was found to be untrue.

In 1948, at a big convention at Nyabondo in Nyakach, Noo broke away from the Anglican church and concentrated on his own  Christian Universal Evangelical Union, which he led up to his death in 1960.



Missionary and Settler presence in Kenya was more pronounced in the Central region than any other part, probably due to its proximity to Nairobi: the headquarters of the colonial government in Kenya.

European condemnation of traditional African practices and values such as Polygamy, female circumcision and consumption of traditional beers among other factors, sparked off the formation of many independent churches and schools in central Kenya in 1929.


What was the main reason for establishment of Kikuyu independent schools?

To acquire numeracy and literacy skills without being Europeanized.

Identify examples of Kikuyu independent schools established during the colonial period in Kenya. 

  • That built at Gaithieko in Kiambu in 1913.
  • One at Githunguri, which was registered with the District Commissioner in 1925.

What was the main reason for establishment of the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association?

  • To coordinate and ensure efficient running of the many independent schools that had emerged in the Murang‟a, Embu and Nyeri areas.

                      What were the responsibilities of the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association?

  • Establishment and maintenance of more schools.
  • Mobilization of finances for teacher training programs

Analyse the development/establishment of the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association.

  • The Kikuyu Independent Schools Association was established in 1934 to coordinate and ensure efficient running of the many independent schools that had emerged in the Murang‟a, Embu and Nyeri areas.
  • Though initially unhappy with the Independent Schools idea, the colonial authorities realized the seriousness of Gikuyu elders and welcomed the African efforts, though they urged for  better management and emphasized registration of such schools with the District Officer. By 1936, there were 34 independent schools and 3984 pupils.
  • Through KISA‟s encouragement, similar schools emerged in the Rift Valley among the Agikuyu squatters.
  • In 1938, KISA leaders named their church The Independent Pentecostal Church. Their influence spread over Kikuyu land, the main urban centres in the region and in the Rift Valley.
  • Unfortunately, KISA was banned alongside other Agikuyu organizations after the declaration of the State Of Emergency in 1952.

Explain the problems encountered by the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association (KISA). (What factors undermined the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association? or:

What obstacles/setbacks did the Kikuyu Independent schools Association encounter? Or:

State the weaknesses of the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association.) v Inadequate funds to support the large number of pupils and schools.

  • Inadequate training for many of the teachers.
  • Lack of proper management skills among KISA leaders.
  • Rivalry from Mission churches.
  • Disagreement among KISA leaders, with some demanding return Of the money and land they had donated from the independent  Churches and schools.

 Discuss/analyse the development/establishment of the Kikuyu Karing’a Educational Association.

  • The Kikuyu Karing‟a Educational Association also emerged as a result of the Female Circumcision stand-off.
  • It advocated pure Agikuyu customs and values, unpolluted by Mission churches and Western traditions. Indeed, the term “Karing‟a” means “Pure”. It also spoke against land alienation and population pressure in Kiambu.
  • By 1952 when it was banned alongside other African organizations, Kikuyu Karing’a Educational Association had spread over central Kenya, rift Valley and Moshi and Arusha in Tanzania.
  • The emergence of many independent schools necessitated the training of teachers to run them. In 1939, the Kenya Teachers Training College was established at Githunguri in Kiambu, with Mbiu Koinange as its first Principal, aimed at providing teachers for the Kikuyu independent Schools. It was however closed down alongside other independent schools during the Maumau war.

Explain the problems faced by independent churches and schools in colonial Kenya.

  • Perpetual shortage of funds as they depended on African support.
  • Competition from Missionary churches and schools for followers.
  • Constant harassment from both the Missionaries and the colonial government.
  • Leadership squabbles as all the founders wanted to be recognized as top role players.
  • Lack of trained personnel for efficient running of the institutions.

Most founders of the independent churches were mission-educated and worked closely with Mission churches at some point before starting their own to retain their African cultures.



The period after 1940 witnessed more radical demands for better conditions and for full political independence in Kenya.

Explain the factors that promoted the struggle for Kenya’s independence.

  • African acquisition of Western education. The educated elite were aware of their rights and began to agitate for political independence.
  • The experiences of the World Wars, which promoted political determination for independence. The exe servicemen uncovered the myths of European superiority during the war as the Whites died just like the Africans.
  • Bitterness of the exe servicemen when the colonial government failed to fulfil promises to compensate them with land. The wars had exposed them to warfare and they were ready to fight for their rights.
  • Independence of India, Pakistan, Ghana, Ethiopia and Liberia, which aroused great confidence among Kenyan Africans.
  • The Atlantic Charter, signed by the British Prime Minister (Winston Churchill) and the US President (Franklin Roosevelt) in 1941, which entitled all subject peoples to self determination.
  • The spirit of Pan Africanism, spearheaded by Afro-Americans, which called for African unity and political liberation.
  • New attitude in Britain towards colonial empires after the Second World War. The Second World War negatively affected the European economy, which made the European taxpayers unwilling to sustain the colonies and therefore became keen on decolonization.
  • Emergence of the USA and the former USSR as the two super powers in the world after the Second World War, which stimulated decolonization as these new World powers did not support colonialism.
  • Establishment of the United Nations Organization after 1945, which boosted African nationalism as the U N O urged member countries to grant independence to the colonies.
  • The Labour party, which came to power in Britain after the Second World War, favoured decolonization.
  • The activities of the Maumau, which made the British, realize that the Africans needed independence.
  • The Trade Union movement in Kenya, which mobilized workers to fight for their rights. In the absence of political parties following the declaration of the state of emergency in 1952, the unions provided a forum for political agitation.
  • National political parties such as KANU and KADU, which inspired nationalist leaders to champion the course for Kenya‟s independence.
  • Nationalist leaders like Jomo Kenyatta and Tom Mboya, who provided political leadership to the masses.
  • Constitutional reforms such as the Lyttelton Constitution, the Lennox Boyd Constitution and the Lancaster House Conferences, which provided for increased African representation in the Legico

Identify the African political parties that struggled for independence in Kenya.

  • The Kenya African Union (KAU).
  • The Kenya African national Union (KANU).
  • The Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU).



The Kenya African Union (KAU) started in 1944, following the nomination of Eliud Mathu by the colonial government to the Legico. It represented a cross section of Kenyans. 1. 1. 1. (a) What were the aims of the Kenya African Union (KAU)?

  • To help Mathu in his new task of representing African interests in the Legico.
  • To coordinate African nationalist activities.
  • To pressurize for constitutional reforms for Africans.
  • Improved conditions for African workers.
  • To provide a multi-ethnic organization for the advancement of African interests.

Name the interim officials of the Kenya African Union. (Name the officials who led the Kenya African Union after its establishment.)

Harry Thuku,

Francis Hamisi,

Albert Owino,

James Gichuru,

John Kebaso,

Simeon Mulandi,

Harry Ole Nangurai,

S.O Josiah,

F.M Ng‟ang‟a,

Jimmy Jeremiah,  J.B Otiende,

S.D Jakaya.

James Gichuru became its president from January 1945 after the resignation of Harry Thuku, who could not cope with the radical views of its radical members, who were using the association to demand political independence.

Due to colonial government suspicion, particularly about its name that was said to have military connotations, the party changed from the Kenya African Union (KAU) to the Kenya African Study Union (KASU), which also changed its purpose to educating people on public affairs, thus making it a kind of debating society.  In 1946, KASU reverted to its original name: the Kenya African Union, having dropped all pretence of being a study union. This meant a return to and refining of its purpose and objectives.

What were the demands of the Kenya African Union?

  • Abolition of forced labour.
  • Self government for Africans.
  • More seats for Africans in the Legico.
  • Free and compulsory education.
  • Equality in wages and salaries among all races.
  • Improvement in the living conditions of Africans.
  • Abolition of the “Kipande” system.

In 1947, Kenyatta, who had return from his fifteen-year stay in London, was elected President of KAU after Gichuru stepped down. This was a great boost to KAU because Kenyatta‟s return in 1946 meant the beginning of mass nationalism.

Name the other leaders of KAU under Kenyatta. (Name the officials that worked with Kenyatta in leading the Kenya African Union)

  • W.W Awori,
  • Ambrose Ofafa,
  • Muchohi Gikonyo.

Even after Kenyatta‟s take-over, KAU operated through Hook and Crook, undergoing and overcoming diverse problems.

Explain the problems that KAU faced.

  • In 1947, there emerged a major stand-off between the radicals (who advocated forceful acquisition of independence) and the moderates (who favoured the use of peaceful constitutional reforms). Kenyatta stepped in and reconciled the two groups. He himself favoured moderation.
  • A short while later, KAU‟s Nairobi branch was taken over by radicals such as Fred Kubai, Bildad Kagia and Paul Ngei, who demanded the removal of moderates from the executive committee. Kenyatta however insisted that the party leadership had to be multi-ethnic, with its secretary from western Kenya and other parts of Kenya represented in the executive committee. Therefore, when the National Delegates Conference met in 1951, a multi-ethnic executive committee was elected, with Jomo Kenyatta as President while J.D Otiende became Secretary General. Paul Ngei was Assistant Secretary General as Harry ole Nangurai became Treasurer.
  • Between 1948-1950, KAU had serious financial problems, which slowed down its programs and even led to closure of its IBEA Nairobi Offices due to failure to pay the rent. To arrest this situation, Harry Ole Nangurai donated an office at Kiburi house along what is now Kirinyaga road to the party.
  • The Nairobi branch, which was led by Fred Kubai, J.M Mungai and Bildad Kagia worked closely with the members of the Maumau movement in Nairobi, which caused a lot of tension between the radicals and the moderates.
  • After 1951, the activities of the radicals increased following the British colonial secretary‟s refusal to meet KAU representatives i.e. Mbiu Koinange and Achieng‟ Oneko, who had prepared a memorandum on the Land question. However, KAU‟s membership continued to expand all over the country, with new offices opened in Kisumu, Maragoli and Mombasa.
  • In 1952, KAU rallies outside Nairobi were banned as a result of a big political meeting in Nyeri, which was addressed by Kenyatta, Ngei , Kagia and Oneko and was attended by Dedan Kimathi: the Maumau movement leader, who startled the colonial government.
  • In 1952, most KAU leaders were arrested following the declaration of the state of Emergency by the new governor to Kenya, who was horrified by the murder of chief Waruhiu wa Kung‟u as well as attacks and destruction of settlers and their property in the Maumau uprising that spread over rift valley and Central provinces.
  • In1953, Walter Odede and Joseph Murumbi took over KAU leadership as acting president and acting Secretary respectively. But Odede was later arrested while Murumbi fled to Bombay in India. That same year, KAU was banned by the colonial government.

Explain the achievements of the Kenya African Union (KAU).

  • Moral and material support to the Maumau freedom fighters by some members.
  • Guidance and political support to Eliud Mathu: the African representative in the Legico.
  • Foundation and establishment of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), which ushered Kenya into political independence.
  • Active Maumau liberation wars.

Explain the factors that undermined African nationalist activities in Kenya between 1939-1963.

Disunity among African nationalists. Some advocated violence while others favoured non-violent means.

Inadequate funds and other resources to manage the struggle.

Ignorance about rights due to illiteracy.

Denial of Mass Media access .

Discrediting (smearing) of nationalists by the government through the mass media.  Lack of cooperation from all communities in Kenya.

Restriction of people‟s movement when the state of Emergency was declared.  The banning of all political parties e.g. during the Second World War and the State of Emergency, which was a total blow to the struggle.



The Maumau uprising was organized and staged mostly by young men who had undergone circumcision in the 1940s, some of who had participated in the Second World War. It was referred to  by various terms other than Maumau. It was sometimes called the Land-and-Freedom Army or the Forty Group. The term Maumau is attributed to a Kikuyu phrase: “Uma Uma”, which means “Get out, Get out”. The Anagram Maumau was used to conceal the message from non-members while urging members to flee on spotting colonial soldiers. Maumau activity was both in the rural and urban areas, Nairobi and Nakuru included. It mainly spread over Rift valley, Central and Nairobi regions among others.

Explain the causes of the Maumau war. (Explain the factors that led to the Maumau war. Or:

Explain the reasons for the Maumau uprising).

  • Land alienation, due to which Africans were pushed to the reserves.
  • Exploitative economic policies of the British such as forced labour, low wages, the “Kipande” system and taxation.
  • Condemnation of African cultural practices such as female circumcision, Polygamy and consumption of traditional African beer.
  • Poor living and working conditions in urban areas and in white settler farms.
  • Denial of further constitutional reforms.
  • Colonial brutality like the killing of Africans over minor offences.
  • The brutal eviction of African squatters from the Olengruoni scheme and forceful settlement in the semi-arid Yata region of Machakos.
  • Racial discrimination against the Africans with regard to education, wages, housing and medical services.
  • Unemployment due to racial policies.
  • Brutality of colonial chiefs and police.
  • Bitterness among the exe soldiers of the Second World War due to lack of compensation. They formed the “Forty Group” (“Anake A forty”) to fight the government and get their rights.
  • It was a war of independence.

Explain the course/process of the Maumau war.

  • The exe servicemen formed a large group of unemployed and disgruntled people, ready to join other nationalists in demanding reforms.
  • The exe servicemen were joined by KAU extremist nationalists, who were dissatisfied by the slow progress of the constitutional reforms.
  • In 1946, a secret movement was formed, aimed at realizing its objectives through violence against the Europeans and their African loyalists. Members of the movement were recruited through traditional oathing practices. It was this secret movement that later became known as the Maumau.
  • In 1951, the government outlawed the Maumau movement, causing Maumau leaders to shift from Nairobi into the Aberdare and mount Kenya forests, from where they conducted guerrilla warfare.
  • The colonial government declared a state of emergency in 1952 following the murder of senior chief Waruhiu Wa Kung‟u by the freedom fighters for his collaboration with the colonial government. Kenyatta and other KAU leaders were arrested, charged and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Armed forces were mobilized to help suppress the movement. More reinforcements were also brought from Britain. KAU was banned in 1953.
  • The declaration of the state of emergency was followed by mass arrests of the Kikuyu, who were then herded into protected villages in order to control their movement. The remaining leaders of the Maumau movement were either captured or killed by government forces and agents. Among such leaders were Waruhiu Itote and Dedan Kimathi.
  • Confusion and disagreement among the freedom fighters weakened the Maumau movement. The state of emergency was not lifted up to 1960. However, the fighters continued in small groups which were hard to trace or suppress.

Explain the factors that facilitated the Maumau movement. (What factors favoured the Maumau uprising?)

The Maumau uprising was favoured by many factors such as:

  • Oathing, which helped the fighters and seal their commitment to the struggle.
  • Hit-and-run (guerrilla) tactics, which made it difficult for the British to suppress the rebellion.
  • Massive support from the civilian population, who supplied the fighters with food, weapons and information about movement of British soldiers.
  • Courage and high resourcefulness of Maumau leaders such as Dedan Kimathi, Stanley Mathenge and General China.
  • The Natural forests of Mount Kenya and the Aberdare ranges, which provided good hide-outs for the fighters.
  • Fighter access to swords, guns and ammunition, some of which were home-made as others were seized from European settlers and British forces.

Explain the problems that Maumau fighters faced. (Explain the setbacks encountered by Maumau fighters. Or:

Explain the factors that undermined the Maumau movement.)  Lack of transport and communication facilities.

Cold temperatures in the Aberdare and mount Kenya forests, which caused some of them to suffer from diseases.

Frequent attacks by wild animals.

Lack of proper fighting equipment.

Anxiety due to the brutal retaliation by the British forces, who were better equipped.

Disagreements and divisions among the freedom fighters.

Occasional infiltration of spies into the movement, who at times exposed their military strategies.

Lack of proper coordination, which prevented them from developing a well organized strategy to direct all fighters. This dealt a devastating blow to the  movement.

Disjointed recruitment process, whereby some fighters were not fully dedicated to the movement’s course since they were coerced into joining it.

Explain the impacts/effects of the Maumau uprising. (What were the results of the Maumau war?)

In spite of its ferocity, the Maumau war had an impact that envisages negative and positive consequences.


  • Many deaths, particularly on the African side.
  • Depletion of both Kenyan and British resources.
  • Declaration of the state of Emergency in Kenya in 1952.
  • Restriction and banning of African political party activities.
  • Removal of the Agikuyu, Aembu and Ameru from Nairobi among other forms of bitterness caused to them.
  • Establishment of Emergency villages, particularly in Central province, to alienate the civil society from the Maumau
  • Subjection of people to misery and suffering in concentration camps such as Hola and Manyani.
  • Suspicion and rivalry among the Agikuyu, Aembu and Ameru communities, which were divided into two camps i.e. the Government loyalists and Maumau supporters.


  • Attention and concern from the British citizens and the international community on events in Kenya.
  • The war speeded up the march to independence.
  • Reduction of settler power and influence.
  • Colonial government accommodation of nationalist demands. It was ready to grant more constitutional reforms to the Africans in the 1950s.
  • Land reform and consolidation measures, e.g. the Swynnerton plan of 1954.
  • Resettlement of Africans in the countryside.
  • Political reforms, which eventually led to lifting of the ban against African political parties in June 1955. However, these parties had to be District-based.

Explain the role of women in the struggle for Kenya’s independence. (Explain the contribution of women in the Liberation struggle in Kenya.)

In Africa, particularly Kenya, women were the backbone of resistance against colonial invasion and were crucial in social, economic and political  development.  The following are examples of women who played a forefront role in the anticolonial struggle in Kenya:

  • In 1908, the elderly Kitutu prophetess: Moraa, rallied the Abagusi of Kitutu, Nyaribare and  Bonchare against the British.
  • In 1911, Siotune Wa Kithuke mobilized the Akamba to protest against British colonialism through a dance called Kilumi, (a traditional dance performed by medicine men to ward off evil spirits). She gathered and urged the people neither to pay taxes nor to provide labour. As a result, she was arrested and deported to Kismayu.
  • In 1913, Agiriama women, especially Mekati Lili Wa Menza, mobilized and administered oaths to the Kaya elders in order to instil confidence and unity in the community against the British. It was not until 1915 that the British managed to crash the resistance. Mekati Lili was arrested and deported to Kisii to ensure that she did not inspire further resistance in the community.
  • In 1922 on Harry Thuku‟s arrest and detention at what is now Central Police station, the crowd, which largely comprised women such as Mary Muthoni Nyanjiru, surged towards the cells where Thuku was held to push for his release. Nyanjiru was among those massacred by the colonial police at that moment.

Explain the involvement of women in political associations in Kenya. (How were women involved in political associations in Kenya?)

  • When Harry Thuku founded the East African Association in 1921, he drew a lot of support from African women.
  • When Thuku was arrested and detained at the Kingsway (central) Police Station in March 1922, the crowd that surged outside the police station remained passive until Mary Muthoni Nyanjiru instantaneously challenged them to push towards the cells  where Thuku was being held.
  • In 1924, the Kikuyu Central Association in present-day Murang‟a enlisted support from many members, particularly women, for its financial and moral footing.
  • From the 1920s, most women identified with the issue of female circumcision as there was an attempt by Protestant missionaries to ban it, which was seen as a plot to undermine the integrity of the Agikuyu woman. Many women and their husbands abandoned the Mission churches and withdrew their children from Mission schools.
  • Women largely contributed to the establishment of independent churches and schools, especially in Central Kenya after the Female Circumcision saga.
  • In the 1930s, some Agikuyu women formed the Mumbi Central Association, which was exclusively for women but worked closely with the Kikuyu Central Association.
  • Although men dominated the senior positions in the Kenya African Union, the party enjoyed the support of many women nationalists such as Sarah Sarai, who was detained in 1952 due to her participation in the nationalist activities in the Ziwani African location in Nairobi.
  • The success of the Maumau movement, which was a major factor in the struggle for independence, is attributed to women.
  • Women were appointed to the Legico. For instance, Jemimah Gichaga was the first woman to be nominated to the Legico after the Maumau war. In 1960, Priscilla Abwao was also nominated to the Legico and was the only woman in the African delegation that participated in the First Lancaster House Conference in London.

Explain the role of women in the Maumau movement.

In the absence of men, who had gone into forests to fight the colonialists, the colonial chiefs mobilized women and children in constructing access roads and terraces, collecting water and firewood for colonial soldiers and other forms of communal labour. When the Maumau uprising started, African women got actively involved in and contributed to the movement in the following ways:

They spied for the Maumau movement in Nairobi and other urban and rural centres.

They endured Dawn-to-Dusk curfews and starvation in villages encircled with barbed wire and ditches.

Some, such as Marshal Muthoni from Nyeri, Nduta Wakore, Elizabeth Gachika and Wambui Wagarama participated directly in the resistance movement, fighting alongside their male counterparts in the forests.

Women endured detention and confinement in Concentration camps due to their active participation in the liberation struggle.

Women mainly organized and coordinated the rural networks as they supplied other fighters‟ needs.

Most of the women concealed information about and refused to betray the Maumau fighters despite their subjection to forced labour, rape, physical torture and other forms of inhuman treatment by colonial agents.

Women supplied the fighters with food, medicine, guns, ammunition and other provisions.

They participated in the oathing ceremonies, some as chief oathing administrators.

They composed songs to mobilize support for the Maumau and to ridicule the home guards and other colonial agents.

They mobilized men and women to join the Maumau.

At independence in 1963, women were still key role players in Kenya‟s political development. For instance, Grace Onyango was the first postcolonial Mayor of Kisumu while Jemima Gichaga was the first woman in Kenya to be nominated in the Legico.



What are trade unions? (What is a trade union?)

Trade unions are associations of workers, purposed to improve their members‟ welfare through collective bargaining.

Identify the concerns of trade unions. (What matters do trade unions deal with?) v Better pay,

  • Recognition of normal working hours, v Respect for public holidays,
  • Compensation in case of injuries.

Explain why there were no African trade unions in Kenya up to 1914.

  • Majority of Kenyan Africans were illiterate and lacked the knowledge to run workers‟ unions.
  • The Migrant Labour system could not allow for the establishment of such unions.
  • The colonial government fought African Kenyan attempts to form workers‟ organizations.

From the 1920s, African political associations served as the main channel for airing African grievances against the colonial system.

In the1930s, provoked by tragic accidents where some road constructors died but were not compensated, masons, labourers and other artisans of Mombasa met and proposed establishment of a trade union named Trade Union Committee of Mombasa.  Indians were instrumental in establishment of trade unions in Kenya since, unlike the Africans, the Indians had more experience with workers‟ organizations.  In 1835, Makhan Singh: one of the trade unionists, advocated multiracial trade union membership. It was in this respect that the Kenya Indian Labour Trade union (which was previously known as the Indian Trade union) changed its name to Labour Trade Union of Kenya. It later became the Labour Trade Union of East Africa after it attracted membership from all over east Africa.


In January 1947, the striking African workers of Mombasa decided to form a union, which they named the African Workers Union. The 1947 strike is reported to have paralyzed work in various government and other sectors like offices, banks, hotels, docks and railways. The workers continued in spite of numerous police and military reinforcements sent from Nairobi.

Identify the pioneer leaders/officials of the African Workers Federation  The African Workers Federation was born on the actual day of the strike, with:

  • Muhamed Kibwana as president,
  • Mwangi Macharia Secretary,
  • Mbaruk Kenze Treasurer,
  • Chege Kibachia Executive officer.

A committee of twelve members was also appointed to assist the elected officials in their work.

What were the grievances of the African Workers Federation? (Explain the demands of the African Workers Federation.)

In a letter to the East African Standard newspapers on 21st January 1947, the union outlined the workers‟ grievances that led to the strike, which are illustrated in the following demands:

  • Respect for African workers, wherever they were employed.
  • A salary increase due to the high cost of living.
  • Elimination of the deliberate strategies used by employees to confine workers in their places of work.
  • Equal pay for equal work, regardless of race.
  • Payment of sufficient allowances to cater for African wives and children.

A trade disputes tribunal was soon established to look into the African grievances in Mombasa. It was led by Mr Justice Thacker and included Hope Jones, F.T Holden, V C Merrit, A H Noor Muhamed and J Silus. The African Workers Federation was represented at the tribunal by Chege Kibachia, Fred Kubai, John Mungai, Willey George and S Osore.

Alarmed by Kibachia‟s activities, the colonial government arrested and detained Kibachia in Baringo and repatriated his A W F colleagues from Mombasa to their respective reserves,, where their activities were closely monitored.

What were the achievements of the African Workers Federation? (Explain the successes of the African Workers Federation.)

  • Mobilization and unity of workers from different communities in fighting for better wages.
  • Education of workers about their rights.
  • Introduction of the concept of collective bargaining among the workers in Kenya.
  • Improved living and working conditions for workers.
  • Better wages and salaries for workers.
  • Change of Government attitude towards Labour unions.
  • Exposure of Kenyan African workers‟ grievances to the international community.



Identify the measures taken against African workers following the declaration of the state of Emergency in 1952.

  • Deportation,
  • Detention,
  • Repression,
  • Communal or Forced labour.

Because of such measures, trade union membership dropped and needed reactivation.  Various small African trade unions united to form the Kenya Federation of Registered trade Unions (KFRTU) following the enactment of the Trade Unions ordinance in 1952.

Name the officials of the Kenya Federation of Registered Trade Unions (KFRTU).

  • Mwichigi Karanja as President,
  • Agrey Minya as Secretary General,
  • Ondiege,
  • Elkana Okusimba,
  • Silus Okeya,
  • David Jomo,
  • Osore,
  • James Wainaina, ü Dickson Sambili.

 Name the African trade unions that united to form the Kenya Federation of Registered trade Unions (KFRTU) in 1952. 

KFRTU affiliates included:

  • The Kenya Local Government Workers Union,
  • Domestic and Hotel Workers Union,
  • East African federation of building and construction Workers union.

What were the grievances of the Kenya Federation of Registered Trade Unions (KFRTU)?

KFRTU fought for the rights and better living conditions of all Africans during the Emergency and campaigned against:

  • Low wages,
  • Poor workers‟ conditions,
  • Arrest and detention of Trade Union leaders,
  • Forceful emigration of the Ameru, Aembu and Agikuyu from Nairobi,
  • Increased prices for tea and bread,
  • Poor housing for its workers,
  • The continuation of the State of Emergency.

In 1953, the Kenya Local Government workers union, of which tom Mboya was Secretary, joined the KFRTU, after which elections of the federation were held.

Identify the officials of the Kenya Federation of Registered Trade Unions (KFRTU) after its 1953 election.

  • David Jomo: President,
  • Stephenson Obwaka: vice President,
  • Tom Mboya: Secretary General,
  • Daniel Ng‟ethe: Treasurer,
  • John Opio: Assistant Treasurer.

In 1955, KFRTU changed its name to Kenya Federation of labour (KFL). The

Kenya Federation of Labour had close links with members of the proscribed Kenya African Union, which alarmed the government and the white settlers. The government also feared Tom Mboya, who travelled widely and established links between KFL and other international trade unions, which he used to articulate the African grievances about colonial oppression in Kenya. Mboya‟s efforts led to affiliation of KFL with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and helped to check the excesses of the colonial government, which sought to improve its image in the international community.

In February 1956, KFL mobilized its members and supporters both locally and internationally to petition against councilation of its registration as threatened by the Registrar of Societies. In April that very year, the Registrar reassured KFL that their licence was not threatened.

Explain the role played by the Kenya Federation of Labour in the campaign for  workers’ welfare and the independence of Kenyans in general.

  • It educated African workers on their rights.
  • It prepared some African nationalists for leadership roles in the struggle for independence, e.g. Tom Mboya and Martin Shikuku.
  • It kept the spirit of African nationalism alive, especially after the banning of KAU during the Maumau uprising.
  • It helped improve the working and living conditions of African workers.
  • It articulated African grievances in the absence of political parties.
  • It helped secure international support for the course of African nationalism. For instance, it highlighted the horrible conditions created for Africans by the state of emergency to ICFTU and the International Labour Organization.
  • It created a collective bargaining power for all workers. Therefore, KFL championed workers‟ interests and motivated nationalism among Africans during the struggle for Kenya‟s independence.

Explain the role/importance of trade unions in colonial Kenya. 

  • Improvement of wages and working conditions by organizing strikes, Go-slows and Sit-ins, which compelled employers to review the workers‟ terms.
  • Introduction of the concept of collective bargaining, whereby workers raised complaints as a group rather than as individuals.
  • Minimization of victimization.
  • Better conflict regulation and resolution.
  • Regional cooperation. Unions in east Africa worked together for the good of workers in the region.
  • Education of workers about their rights through seminars and public meetings.
  • Development of a responsible work force concerning policy matters.
  • Promotion of cooperation between employers, employees and the government through consultation. This was necessary for efficiency, productivity and the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes.
  • Promotion of the struggle for independence as they were used as political forums when political parties were banned in 1952.
  • Provision of a training ground for national leaders like Tom Mboya, Fred Kubai, Bildad Kagia, Makhan Singh and Martin Shikuku.

Explain the problems encountered by trade Unions in colonial Kenya. (Explain the factors that undermined trade unions in colonial Kenya. Or: Explain the setbacks to trade unions in colonial Kenya.)

  • Inadequate funding as they relied on mere contributions from the workers.
  • Constant wrangling among trade union leaders.
  • Harassment by both the white settlers and the colonial government.
  • Ethnic considerations rather than competence concerning choice of leaders.
  • The Migrant nature of the African work force, especially in the initial years of colonialism.
  • Inefficient running due to poor leadership.
  • Fear of victimization in the pioneer years.
  • Ignorance of workers on the role of trade unions.
  • Inadequate trained manpower to run the unions.

Even today, trade unions like the Kenya national Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Central Organization of trade Unions (COTU) play an important role in advancing the welfare of workers.



Explain the factors that led to decolonization in Kenya and other African countries after World War 2.

Decolonization in Kenya and other African countries after the Second World War was a result of many factors such as:

  • The experiences of the Exe soldiers, which encouraged demand for more political rights.
  • The Pan African Movement, which pressured the colonial powers to grant political independence to their subject peoples.
  • Frequent revolts and violence used by the colonized peoples against the colonizers.
  • Realization by the colonial powers that colonies were becoming too expensive to run.
  • Reluctance by tax payers in the colonial powers to finance colonial empires.
  • Constitutional reforms in the colonial powers on one hand and in the colonies on the other.


Name two Kenyan Africans that were appointed to the Legico in 1944 and 1946.

Due to KAU and other African demands, Eliud Mathu and Benaiah Ohanga were appointed to the Legico in 1944 and 1946.

Identify four categories of membership to the Legico in Kenya by 1948. By 1948, the Legico comprised: 

  • Four Africans,
  • Eleven Europeans,
  • Five Asians
  • Two Arabs.

State the recommendations of the 1955 East African Royal Commission.

By 1954 when Oliver Lyttelton: the British Secretary for colonies, visited Kenya, it was clear that the Maumau could not be defeated without solving the grievances that led to its outbreak. That‟s when need to involve the Africans in the administration of and reduce settler influence in Kenya was realized. Therefore, in 1955, the East African Royal Commission came up with a report that called for: v An end to racial segregation.

  • Increased involvement of Africans in the colonial administration.
  • The opening of the Kenya highlands, which were until then exclusively used by white settlers to the disadvantage of all the races.

Apart from the 1955 East African Royal Commission, identify other reports that were issued around 1955.

The Swynnerton Plan of 1954, which recommended the consolidation and registration of African land.

The report on African wages and the Ligbury Commission on civil service, both of which recommended better pay for African workers.


Explain the proposals/recommendations that were made by Oliver Lyttelton when he visited Kenya in 1954. (What were the recommendations of the Lyttelton constitution?)

  • Creation of a multiracial society where all races would share political power.
  • Formation of a multiracial council of ministers representing the three races i.e. Europeans, Asians and Africans.
  • Representation of Africans and Asians by members with executive power over their ministries.
  • Inclusion of one African, two Asians and three European among the unofficial members of the new council. B.A Ohanga: the first African to be appointed Minister was the African unofficial member. He became Minister for Community development and African Affairs in 1954.
  • That elections be held in 1956-1957, with eight constituencies allocated to Africans.
  • That each race elects their own representative to the Legico. However, other than race-pegged rules for participation, voting qualifications for Africans were based on income, property and education, which limited the number of African voters registered by the time of the election.

Explain how the colonial government responded  to Lyttelton’s recommendations, 

  • It relaxed its policy on African political activities in 1955.
  • It lifted the ban on African political organizations, though it restricted their functions to the District rather than National level and
  • maintained prohibition on political organizations in central Kenya.
  • Established the advisory council,

An advisory council was established by collaborators in central Kenya to discuss government policies.

Identify the political associations that were formed after the ban on African political organizations was lifted.

African nationalists in regions where the ban was lifted formed their associations, such as:

  • Argwings Kodhek‟s Kenya African National Congress (KANC), which was later named or known as the Nairobi District African Congress (NDAC),
  • Tom Mboya‟s Nairobi People‟s Convention Party (NPCP),
  • D Mwanyumba‟s Taita African Democratic Union (TADU),
  • John Kebaso‟s Abagusi Association
  • John Keen‟s Maasai Front.

 Name the nationalists who formed the African Elected Members Organization.

In March 1957, the first African elections to the Legico were held, after which African elected members of the Legico formed the African Elected Members organization (AEMO). These were:

  • Tom Mboya,
  • Masinde Muliro,
  • Oginga Odinga,
  • Laurence Oguda,
  • Ronald Ngala,
  • Daniel Arap Moi,
  • Bernard Mate,
  • James Muimi

Oginga Odinga was its chairman and Tom Mboya its Secretary.

State the demands of  the African Elected Members’ Organization (AEMO).

Condemnation of the Lyttelton constitution for providing fewer elected members than nominated ones.

Condemnation of the domination of the Legico by Europeans.

That every African of age 21 and older be allowed to vote, regardless of education or income.

That registration of voters be done on a common roll, allowing for all races in every constituency to compete as opposed to the race-pegged voting.

An end to the State of Emergency.


What were the recommendations of the Lennox Boyd constitution?

When Sir Allan Lennox Boyd: another British Secretary for colonies, visited Kenya in 1958, he proposed:

  • An increase of Legico seats for Africans by six, making them 14, equal to those of Europeans.
  • Increase of African Ministers from one to two.
  • Introduction of a multiracial representation in the Legislative Council by providing for twelve specially elected members (four from each of the three races).

However, the AEMO rejected all those proposals after the proposals were perceived to give white settlers an advantaged position over the Africans in Kenya.

AEMO was sued for criminal libel and its members were fined 75 pounds each.

AEMO also called for the unconditional release of Jomo Kenyatta.

In 1959, Michael Blundel: the leader of the settlers resigned his Ministry Of Agriculture position to form the New Kenya party. He was backed by 46 non-African members of the Legico. In response, the European radicals formed the United Party under the leadership of Captain Briggs.

One of the European radicals‟ demands was abolition of the Legico and its replacement with regional assemblies in order to preserve the „white‟ highlands as one regional assembly for the exclusive benefit of the Europeans, aimed at thwarting the intended colonial government move to open up the highlands for all races from 1959.

What were the demands of the Kenya Independent Movement?

Under Oginga Odinga, tom Mboya and Gikonyo Kiano, the radical members of the AEMO formed the Kenya Independent Movement, which opposed multiracialism and was exclusively open to African membership. Their demands included:

  • Convening of a full constitutional conference to discuss Kenya‟s future.
  • The release of Kenyatta.


This was convened in January 1960 at Lancaster House in London by Ian Macleod: The then British colonial Secretary and Sir Patrick Rennison: the then Governor of Kenya.

State the main purpose of the first Lancaster House Conference (1960).

  • To find solution to the volatile political situation in Kenya.

State the decisions/resolutions that were made at the First Lancaster House Conference (1960)

Following a lot of negotiation, a number of compromised decisions were made at the First Lancaster House Conference as follows:

  • The twelve elective seats in the Legico would remain intact.
  • There would be 33 open seats in the Legico to be vied for on a common roll.
  • There would be another twenty reserved seats: ten for Europeans, eight for Asians and two for Arabs.
  • The composition of the Council of Ministers would be altered to incorporate four Africans, three Europeans and one Asian.

The conference failed to give the African politicians a responsible government.

Explain the impact/results of the First Lancaster House Conference.

  • Four of the elected African members of the Legico now accepted ministerial positions reserved for Africans.
  • KANU beat KADU and other political parties in the first General Elections along party lines held in 1961.
  • Ronald Ngala formed a Minority KADU government in coalition with European and Asian members after KANU gave Jomo Kenyatta‟s release as their condition for agreeing to form a government.
  • Kenyatta was released on 21st August 1961.
  • Kariuki Njiiri offered his Murang‟a constituency seat to Kenyatta, enabling Kenyatta to join the Legico.


This was held in February 1962 at the same venue as the first Lancaster House

Conference, presided over by Reginald Maulding: the then Secretary of State for Colonies, to draw an independence constitution acceptable to both KANU  and KADU and to reconcile their differences.

At the Second Lancaster House Conference, the KANU delegation was led by Kenyatta while KADU was led by Ngala.


Explain the difference between KANU and KADU during the second Lancaster House Conference (1962).

  • KANU advocated a strong unitary government while KADU favoured a federal constitution.


Explain the decisions/agreements arrived at during the second Lancaster House Conference (1962).

Since the difference between KANU and KADU could not be solved, formation of a coalition government was suggested to accelerate the transition to independence.  Therefore, the Second Lancaster House Conference settled for a federal constitution as follows:

  • Kenya would comprise six regions, each retaining considerable internal powers.
  • Central government would consist of a national Assembly comprising two chambers i.e. the Senate and the House of Representatives.
  • The Prime Minister and the cabinet would come from the party with a majority of seats.
  • The Senate would have 41 members (one from every district) while the House of Representatives would comprise 117 members, with twelve specially elected and one Attorney General.
  • Each province would have an Organization of Elected Members.

Explain the problems that bedevilled Kenya in spite of the agreements made at the second Lancaster House Conference (1962). (explain the problems that Kenyans faced as they prepared for the 1963 elections).

In spite of these agreements, Kenyans prepared for elections with many complicated problems such as the following:

  • The Coastal Arabs living within the sixteen kilometre coastal strip wanted to break away and join Zanzibar since Britain had leased the strip from the Sultan of Zanzibar.
  • Some parts of what is now North-Eastern Province threatened to either form their own government or join Somalia.
  • Paul Ngei had formed the African People‟s party (A P P) to safeguard the interests of the Akamba and was suspicious of the government that would be formed after the presumed elections.
  • There were very few skilled Africans to take up the many vacancies left by Europeans since the colonial government neglected and disregarded African education.

However, elections were held in Kenya in May 1963 and KANU won majority (73) seats against KADU‟s 31 in the House of Representatives and was therefore invited to form the government. Its leader: Jomo Kenyatta became Kenya‟s first prime Minister. On 1st June 1963, Kenya attained responsible self government. On 12th December 1963, Kenya attained full independence. On 12th December 1964, Kenya was declared a Republic, with an executive President. The Queen of England ceased to be Kenya‟s head of state. Jomo Kenyatta was Kenya‟s first President.

Identify the parties that emerged to steer Kenya into political independence and sovereignty after the Lancaster House conferences.

  • The Kenya African National Union (KANU),
  • The Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), ü The New Kenya Party,
  • The African People‟s Party (APP).




Analyse the formation of the Kenya African National Union (KANU).

  • The Kenya African National union (KANU) was formed on 27th March 1960 at Kirigiti in Kiambu during a meeting convened by exe KAU leaders i.e. James Gichuru and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Jomo Kenyatta, who was still in detention, was elected its president in absentia.
  • Formation of KANU resulted from the First Lancaster House Conference of January 1960, which was attended by all members of the Legico from Kenya, Africans included.
  • Following the reluctance of the colonial government to register KANU with Kenyatta as President, another meeting was convened in may 1960 where James Gichuru took up KANU‟s presidency on an acting capacity, with Oginga Odinga as his deputy, Tom Mboya as Secretary General and Arthur Ochwada as assistant Secretary General. Ronald Ngala and Daniel Arap Moi were elected Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer in absentia since Ngala was in the USA while Moi was in London attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary association course.
  • Under the guidance of Mwai Kibaki and Tom Mboya, a comprehensive KANU constitution was drafted. However, Ngala and Moi turned down their appointment when they returned, for their views had not really been represented at the meeting.

                  What were the main objectives of KANU?

The main objectives of KANU at its formation were:

  • Political independence for Africans in Kenya.
  • National unity through a unitary national constitution under one central government.
  • A society based on African socialism.
  • Eradication of poverty, ignorance and disease.
  • Return of all the African land.
  • Release of all political detainees.
  • Unity with liberation movements in other African countries to end imperialism and colonialism in Africa.
  • Good neighbourliness in the east African region.

Explain why Jomo Kenyatta’s membership of KANU after his release from detention boosted the party.

He was viewed as the natural leader of the Africans in Kenya, which made most Africans to get allied with KANU.

His long imprisonment had given him the status of a political martyr in the eyes of the Africans.

He spoke eloquently, which added to KANU‟s popularity.

 Explain the role of KANU during the struggle for independence in Kenya.

  • It mobilized and united Africans in the struggle for Kenya‟s independence. It provided political education to Kenyan Africans.
  • It participated in the Constitutional talks in London in 1962 where the Independence constitution was formulated.
  • It won the Independence Election of 1963, becoming the Ruling party, with Kenyatta as Prime Minister.


Explain the challenges/problems that KANU faced in its struggle for Kenya’s independence. (Explain why some nationalist leaders were dissatisfied with KANU.)  It was argued that the party was too radical.

  • It was too urban-oriented.
  • It was too much dominated by the majority ethnic groups (the Kikuyu and the Luo), leaving minority groups threatened and suspicious of it.
  • It suffered from inadequate funding.
  • Its operations were undermined by the colonial government.
  • Alleged lack of transparency in the running of Party affairs, particularly elections.
  • A growing rift among the leaders over Party ideologies, with some advocating a unitary system of government while others favoured a federal (Majimbo) system.  Split within the party, with some members decamping to form the Kenya African Democratic Union and others the African people‟s party.  Harassment by the colonial government.
  • Inadequate support, since most Africans were ignorant of Party politics.
  • Hostility from the White settlers, who feared losing their assets if the party rose to power.
  • Opposition from KADU, which comprised smaller tribes that advocated a Federal government.


What was the main reason for formation of the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU)?

Fear of Kikuyu and Luo supremacy, especially in KANU.

 Name the communities that members of KADU mainly came from. (Name the communities whose leaders constituted KADU.)

Leaders of KADU were mainly from Minority communities such as:

  • The Kalenjin,
  • Abaluhyia,
  • The Maasai,
  • The coastal communities.

Identify the leaders/founder members of the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU).

  • Ronald Ngala: its President,
  • Daniel Arap Moi: its Chairman,
  • Masinde Muliro: its Vice president,
  • Martin Shikuku: its Secretary General,
  • Justus Ole Tipis: its treasurer.

Analyse the formation/operation of the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) as a political party.

  • Just like KANU, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) draws its foundation from the First Lancaster House Conference, where the colonial government authorised the formation of countrywide political parties.
  • KADU was formed in 1960 to avoid Kikuyu and Luo dominance in the political arena.
  • Unlike KANU, KADU favoured a Federal (Majimbo) system of government. When the two parties visited Jomo Kenyatta at Lodwa, where Kenyatta was detained, Kenyatta tried but failed to persuade them to unite. Each hoped Kenyatta would join them on his release from prison.
  • In the first General elections held along party lines in May 1961, KANU won majority seats, followed by KADU, while other parties garnered the remaining seats. However, KADU teamed up with Michael Blundel‟s New Kenya Party and formed a Coalition government after KANU refused to form a government as long as Kenyatta was still in prison. Ronald Ngala became the Leader of Government Business and Minister for Education.
  • In 1962, KANU and KADU formed a coalition government while awaiting the 1963 General Elections. Ngala became minister of State in charge of constitutional Affairs.
  • In the 1963 General Elections, KADU was defeated by KANU and therefore became a major opposition party. But in 1964, KADU was disbanded and its members joined KANU after being persuaded by Oginga Odinga and President Jomo Kenyatta.

Analyse/discuss the achievements of KADU. (Explain the successes of KADU in its four years of operation.)

  • It united the smaller Kenyan communities.
  • It mobilized Africans against colonial domination.
  • It contributed enormously to the formulation of the Independence constitution in the Second Lancaster House Conference.
  • It provided political education to and enlightened Africans.
  • It helped ensure checks on the KANU government for the short period it was in the Opposition.
  • It formed a coalition government in 1961 with Michael Blundel‟s New Kenya Party when KANU declined to form a government unless Jomo Kenyatta was released from prison.

Explain the problems encountered by KADU as a political party. (describe the setbacks that Kadu contended with as a political party.)

  • Persistent lack of funds.
  • Its manipulation by the colonial government.
  • Pressure from their rivals: KANU, who wanted KADU to decamp and merge with them.
  • Illiteracy among the majority of its members, leaving the top leaders with too much responsibility over Party affairs.
  • Rivalry among its senior officials.
  • Suspicions that certain ethnic groups were dominating the party.


The African People‟s Party (A P P) was founded by Paul Ngei and was one of the political parties that emerged in Kenya after the Second Lancaster House Conference in February 1962, which provided for a Federal constitution with a strong central government, which in turn allowed for six regions,, each with a considerable power in

line with KADU‟s demands.

Paul Ngei, just like the Somali and the coastal Arabs, feared Akamba interests would not be catered for by either the KANU or KADU government.

In the 1963 General Elections, A P P and other minority parties came third after KANU and KADU respectively. After Kenya became a Republic in 1964, both A P P and KADU disbanded and joined KANU

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