Kenya Declares Independence - History

Kenya Declares Independence - History

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On December 12th, Great Britain granted Kenya independence within the British Commonwealth. Its first leader was Jomo Kenyatta.

Dec. 12, 1963 | Kenya Gains Independence

Ludwig Wegmann/German Federal Archive Jomo Kenyatta, the first prime minister and the first president of Kenya, pictured in 1966, three years after Kenya’s independence.
Historic Headlines

Learn about key events in history and their connections to today.

On Dec. 12, 1963, Kenya gained its independence from Britain. “With Britain’s Union Jack replaced by the black, red and green flag of the new states, political power in Britain’s last East African colonial holding slipped from the grasp of its 55,759 whites and was taken up by its 8,365,942 Africans,” wrote The New York Times.

The road to independence began in the 1950s with the Mau Mau Rebellion. The Mau Mau movement was a militant African nationalist group that opposed British colonial rule and its exploitation of the native population.

Mau Mau members, made up primarily of Kikuyu (the largest ethnic group in Kenya), carried out violent attacks against colonial leaders and white settlers. In 1952, the colonial government declared a state of emergency and arrested many Kenyan independence leaders, including moderates who had little or no connection to the Mau Mau, like Jomo Kenyatta, president of the Kenya African Union.

Between 1952 and 1956, the British defeated the Mau Mau through a brutal campaign of military action and widespread detention of the Kikuyu. However, the Mau Mau Rebellion also persuaded the British that social, political and agrarian reforms were necessary. In 1957, the British allowed for the first direct elections of native leaders to the Legislative Council and by 1960, Africans were a majority in the council.

Over the next several years, the British worked with African and white settler leaders to plan the country’s transition to independence. These conferences produced a constitution in 1963 that provided for the creation of a bicameral legislature with elections held that May. The Kenya African National Union won majorities in both houses and selected its leader, Kenyatta, who had been released from prison in 1961, to be the first prime minister of the new nation.

On the day of Kenya’s independence, The Times reported, “There is every indication that Kenya will evolve into a one-party state in the pattern of nearly every other black country on the continent.” Kenyatta indeed did consolidate in 1964, he had the legislature create the position of president and grant him considerable executive powers. Later that year, the Kenya African National Union and its main opposition party united to form a party with near-complete control over the government, and in 1969 Kenyatta banned a new opposition party so he could run unopposed.

The strengthening of presidential powers exacerbated ethnic divisions in the country and “led to staggering levels of corruption,” according to the Times Topics: Kenya overview page. In 2010, Kenya amended its constitution so that it 𠇌urtails the powers of an imperial-style presidency, paves the way for much-needed land reform and gives Kenyans a bill of rights.”

Connect to Today:

In 2011, four older Kenyans won the right to sue the British government in a British court for severe abuse they suffered during the Mau Mau Rebellion. The extent of the abuse toward Mau Mau suspects, including President Obama’s grandfather, who reportedly spent two years detained in a prison camp, was exposed when historians uncovered documents that had been withheld from the U.K. National Archives.

In an April Letter from Europe in The Times, Alan Cowell used the court case as a starting point to reflect on the abuses of the British Empire: “While [baby] boomers were sharpening their pencils in class, young British soldiers, not much older than they, were beating, torturing, raping and even castrating people in the far reaches of Africa … raising a question more familiar to modern Germans than modern Britons: Are the sins of one generation to be visited on its successors?”

He also quoted author Charles Glass who argues: ” In so many of the world’s troublesome corners — Cyprus, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Kenya and Iraq — a stamp says ‘Made in Britain.’ Britain cannot undo most of the damage.”

Do you agree that many of today’s global conflicts have roots in their colonial pasts? If so, to what extent do the events and policies of past empires continue to influence current generations? If not, why not?

Early life

Kenyatta was born as Kamau, son of Ngengi, at Ichaweri, southwest of Mount Kenya in the East African highlands. His father was a leader of a small Kikuyu agricultural settlement. About age 10 Kamau became seriously ill with jigger infections in his feet and one leg, and he underwent successful surgery at a newly established Church of Scotland mission. This was his initial contact with Europeans. Fascinated with what he had seen during his recuperation, Kamau ran away from home to become a resident pupil at the mission. He studied the Bible, English, mathematics, and carpentry and paid his fees by working as a houseboy and cook for a European settler. In August 1914 he was baptized with the name Johnstone Kamau. He was one of the earliest of the Kikuyu to leave the confines of his own culture. And, like many others, Kamau soon left the mission life for the urban attractions of Nairobi.

There he secured a job as a clerk in the Public Works Department, and he also adopted the name Kenyatta, the Kikuyu term for a fancy belt that he wore. After serving briefly as an interpreter in the High Court, Kenyatta transferred to a post with the Nairobi Town Council. About this time he married and began to raise a family.

The first African political protest movement in Kenya against a white-settler-dominated government began in 1921—the East Africa Association (EAA), led by an educated young Kikuyu named Harry Thuku. Kenyatta joined the following year. One of the EAA’s main purposes was to recover Kikuyu lands lost when Kenya became a British crown colony (1920). The Africans were dispossessed, leaseholds of land were restricted to white settlers, and native reservations were established. In 1925 the EAA disbanded as a result of government pressures, and its members re-formed as the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA). Three years later Kenyatta became this organization’s general secretary, though he had to give up his municipal job as a consequence.


Kenya is one of Africa's "lion economies", according to business commentators who continue to gape at the high levels of economic growth on the continent. East Africa's largest economy, Kenya has a set of ambitious targets in its bid to become a middle-income country by 2030.

Note: Atlas method, current US$

In 1963, Kenya's gross national income (GNI) per capita stood at about $100. By 2012, that figure was estimated at $850. Economies reach the World Bank's lower middle-income category when their GNI per capita surpasses $1,036.

Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution

On December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the Constitution, by a vote of 46 to 23. Pennsylvania was the first large state to ratify, as well as the first state to endure a serious Anti-Federalist challenge to ratification.

Pennsylvania was the most ethnically and religiously diverse state in the new nation. One-third of Pennsylvania’s population was German-speaking, and the Constitution was printed in German for the purposes of involving that population in the debate. The chairman of the Pennsylvania ratifying convention, Reverend Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, was the son of the leading German Lutheran minister and grandson to Conrad Weiser (1696-1760), who had been a leading colonial Indian interpreter and German-speaking political leader. The leader of the Anti-Federalist opposition was the Delaware-born Scots-Irishman Thomas McKean. Future Supreme Court Justice and Scottish immigrant James Wilson was the most articulate defender of the Federalist cause.

Multi-party politics restored

President Daniel arap Moi won the 1997 elections and groomed current president Uhuru Kenyatta to take over the presidency and continue his father’s legacy in 2002.

Moi stood down in 2002 for Uhuru Kenyatta to stand. He led KANU to its first defeat to an opposition coalition led by Mwai Kibaki.

The coalition fell apart and Uhuru backed Kibaki to win the 2007 elections against rival Raila Odinga who had unsuccessfully contested for the first time in 1997 after he returned from exile to take part in the country’s multi-party politics.

Odinga supported Kibaki in the 2002 elections as part of the opposition coalition until they fell out after the polls.

The 2007 elections saw some 1,300 people killed and more than 600,000 displaced after violence that saw Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2011 for incitement of the ethnic violence against Odinga’s supporters.

The charges were dropped against Kenyatta in December 2014 and against Ruto in April 2016 due to lack of evidence.

The post-election violence brought forth the 2008 National Accord and Reconciliation Act. This made Odinga the first Prime Minister since 1964, and Uhuru his deputy.

Elections were held in 2013 under the new constitution in 2010 that was approved after a referendum. Uhuru Kenyatta defeated Raila Odinga, whose party won the most seats in the National Assembly.

Uhuru is running again in 2017 for his second term against Raila Odinga who has been unsuccessful in 1997, 2007 and 2013.

Early Travels, 1776-1814

Once the Declaration was signed, the document probably accompanied the Continental Congress as that body traveled during the uncertain months and years of the Revolution. Initially, like other parchment documents of the time, the Declaration was probably stored in a rolled format. Each time the document was used, it would have been unrolled and re-rolled. This action, as well as holding the curled parchment flat, doubtless took its toll on the ink and on the parchment surface through abrasion and flexing. The acidity inherent in the iron gall ink used by Timothy Matlack allowed the ink to "bite" into the surface of the parchment, thus contributing to the ink's longevity, but the rolling and unrolling of the parchment still presented many hazards.

After the signing ceremony on August 2, 1776, the Declaration was most likely filed in Philadelphia in the office of Charles Thomson, who served as the Secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1789. On December 12, threatened by the British, Congress adjourned and reconvened 8 days later in Baltimore, MD. A light wagon carried the Declaration to its new home, where it remained until its return to Philadelphia in March of 1777.

On January 18, 1777, while the Declaration was still in Baltimore, Congress, bolstered by military successes at Trenton and Princeton, ordered the second official printing of the document. The July 4 printing had included only the names of John Hancock and Charles Thomson, and even though the first printing had been promptly circulated to the states, the names of subsequent signers were kept secret for a time because of fear of British reprisals. By its order of January 18, however, Congress required that "an authentic copy of the Declaration of Independency, with the names of the members of Congress subscribing to the same, be sent to each of the United States, and that they be desired to have the same put upon record." The "authentic copy" was duly printed, complete with signers' names, by Mary Katherine Goddard in Baltimore.

Assuming that the Declaration moved with the Congress, it would have been back in Philadelphia from March to September 1777. On September 27, it would have moved to Lancaster, PA, for 1 day only. From September 30, 1777, through June 1778, the Declaration would have been kept in the courthouse at York, PA. From July 1778 to June 1783, it would have had a long stay back in Philadelphia. In 1783, it would have been at Princeton, NJ, from June to November, and then, after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the Declaration would have been moved to Annapolis, MD, where it stayed until October 1784. For the months of November and December 1784, it would have been at Trenton, NJ. Then in 1785, when Congress met in New York, the Declaration was housed in the old New York City Hall, where it probably remained until 1790 (although when Pierre L'Enfant was remodeling the building for the convening of the First Federal Congress, it might have been temporarily removed).

In July 1789 the First Congress under the new Constitution created the Department of Foreign Affairs and directed that its Secretary should have "the custody and charge of all records, books and papers" kept by the department of the same name under the old government. On July 24 Charles Thomson retired as Secretary of the Congress and, upon the order of President George Washington, surrendered the Declaration to Roger Alden, Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In September 1789 the name of the department was changed to the Department of State. Thomas Jefferson, the drafter of the Declaration, returned from France to assume his duties as the first Secretary of State in March of 1790. Appropriately, those duties now included custody of the Declaration.

In July 1790 Congress provided for a permanent capital to be built among the woodlands and swamps bordering the Potomac River. Meanwhile, the temporary seat of government was to return to Philadelphia. Congress also provided that "prior to the first Monday in December next, all offices attached to the seat of the government of the United States" should be removed to Philadelphia. The Declaration was therefore back in Philadelphia by the close of 1790. It was housed in various buildings--on Market Street, at Arch and Sixth, and at Fifth and Chestnut.

In 1800, by direction of President John Adams, the Declaration and other government records were moved from Philadelphia to the new federal capital now rising in the District of Columbia. To reach its new home, the Declaration traveled down the Delaware River and Bay, out into the ocean, into the Chesapeake Bay, and up the Potomac to Washington, completing its longest water journey.

For about 2 months the Declaration was housed in buildings built for the use of the Treasury Department. For the next year it was housed in one of the "Seven Buildings" then standing at Nineteenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Its third home before 1814 was in the old War Office Building on Seventeenth Street.

In August 1814, the United States being again at war with Great Britain, a British fleet appeared in the Chesapeake Bay. Secretary of State James Monroe rode out to observe the landing of British forces along the Patuxent River in Maryland. A message from Monroe alerted State Department officials, in particular a clerk named Stephen Pleasonton, of the imminent threat to the capital city and, of course, the government's official records. Pleasonton "proceeded to purchase coarse linen, and cause it to be made into bags of convenient size, in which the gentlemen of the office" packed the precious books and records including the Declaration.

A cartload of records was then taken up the Potomac River to an unused gristmill belonging to Edgar Patterson. The structure was located on the Virginia side of the Potomac, about 2 miles upstream from Georgetown. Here the Declaration and the other records remained, probably overnight. Pleasonton, meanwhile, asked neighboring farmers for the use of their wagons. On August 24, the day of the British attack on Washington, the Declaration was on its way to Leesburg, VA. That evening, while the White House and other government buildings were burning, the Declaration was stored 35 miles away at Leesburg.

The Declaration remained safe at a private home in Leesburg for an interval of several weeks--in fact, until the British had withdrawn their troops from Washington and their fleet from the Chesapeake Bay. In September 1814 the Declaration was returned to the national capital. With the exception of a trip to Philadelphia for the Centennial and to Fort Knox during World War II, it has remained there ever since.

The British Way in Dealing with the Mau Mau

After closing down Nairobi with colonial police and the British military, the government had another problem. The remaining freedom fighters had all run away to the forests of central Kenya. They started an all-out guerrilla war against the Britons and they had to be clever in conducting the war for they had no equipment besides a small number of firearms and ammunition.

The British empire was used to insurgency guerrillas. They fought the Boers in South Africa decades earlier and they were still dealing with the Malaysian communist insurgents in the Far East. These historical examples served when dealing with the Kenya Land and Freedom Army and its supporters.

The British divided the population from the guerrilla fighters. Doing it, they were trying to avoid that the guerrillas in the forest could get any support. The British completely demolished and burned down whole villages to the ground and resettled the population in areas they could control.

The famous Kenyan novelist and political thinker Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1938-) was a victim of such practice. After coming home from school he found his house burned down and his family gone. After looking around he discovered they were living and working in a fenced village of Kamiriithu where they were all controlled by Kikuyus that were loyal to the Colonial Government. His brother joined the guerrillas in the forests and his mother was removed to a fenced village. These memories of times of war would flower in his first published novel, Weep, Not Child (1964), and in his autobiography Dream in a Time of War (2010).

The British gave themselves the right to arrest without trial, which led to mass incarceration within the Kikuyu people. With many big concentration camps and a greater number of smaller ones, the British developed a whole system of imprisonment and torture in order to break down the guerrillas and the populational support. Torture was widespread and acknowledged by the authorities.

The declaration of emergency allowed the colonial government to implement a set of oppressive measures. People could not move without permission papers, land and property were confiscated from fighters and suspects, censorship was put forward all over the country, native organizations were closed and only organizations supporting the colonial state were kept.

The condition was harsh in the camps. The infamous Hola massacre is one of these episodes. Eleven people were clubbed to death and a greater number suffered permanent injury. The authorities tried to cover up the story but it ended reaching out to the world. Other kinds of torture involved bottles being pushed into people anus and vaginas. Beatings were common and forced work was constant.

Ian Henderson (1927–2013), one famous British officer was responsible for a great number of tortures and deaths. In his book Man Hunt in Kenya (1958), he never treats the Kikuyus as fellow humans but as mere inhuman terrorists. In his memoir of war, strangely, Henderson never mentions any fact of violence except when it is done by a native Mau Mau. Much of his opinions about Africans came from the book of the psychologist John Colin Carothers (1903–1989). Carothers wrote that the Mau Mau was no freedom fighter but was mentally ill. The colonizers were neglecting any kind of rationality to the demands of the guerrilla fighters and treated the case as a fight between civilization (that could only be Western and British) against the barbarism of uneducated, uncivilized and inferior people.

Kenya Declares Independence - History

Pre-colonial African society in Kenya consisted of a large number of relatively small competing ethnic groups feuding over natural resources such as land, water and pasture all of which were coupled with territorial disputes. The basic units of governance were the extended family and the clan. In a predominantly polygamous society these basic, patriarchal units could be quite large. Superimposed on the family were clans, which were defined by relationship to a common ancestor and usually were loosely governed by a council of elders. Economic activities ranged from hunter-gatherer, fishing, and arable and livestock production. Most African communities in Kenya lacked the population concentration to create the more complex hierarchical rule found in the Great Lakes Region (Rwanda-Burundi, Uganda) and Ethiopia. Instead we had large number of relatively small competing ethnic groups.

In 1895, Britain declared (what would later become Kenya) an East African Protectorate with its headquarters in Mombasa. However, exerting control over such a vast area without a modern and efficient transport system was a mission impossible. Between 1896 and 1901, the Kenya-Uganda Railway was built covering 900 km from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. The railway which cost £5.5 million at the time revolutionized transport between the coast and the hinterland. It also led to an influx of white settlers who alienated for themselves the most fertile African lands with the approval of the protectorate administration. Questions then emerged within the administration of the sustainability of the railway by the majority African population who were mainly involved in subsistence farming. It was resolved that only white settlers would make the railway self-sustaining as had happened in Canada and New Zealand.

In 1920, the East African Protectorate was renamed the Kenya Colony and Protectorate. Taxes were imposed on the African population particularly the hut tax and poll tax. The colonial administration introduced an administrative structure which borrowed heavily from the larger British colonial system of “indirect rule.” Chiefs and headmen were created for this purpose. The chiefs who were granted wide latitude of powers by the colonial administration were responsible for the maintenance of law and order. They arbitrated local disputes and commanded the tribal (later the administration) police. They were also responsible for the collection of taxes. The other administrative structures created by the British were those of Local Government (Local Native Councils), African Tribunal Courts and the Kenya Police.

The pre-occupation of the colonial administration then was largely to ensure the maintenance of law and order over the length and breadth of the Colony. It was also geared to serve a racial segregationist system with whites at the apex, then the Asians and Africans at the lowest level of the food chain

African Resistance to Colonial Rule

The completion of the railway saw an influx of European settlers invited by the colonial government with offers of huge leases for the most fertile land in the country. Thus, the lands with high agricultural potential especially in the Central highlands and the vast Rift Valley provinces came to be occupied by white settlers. These fertile lands became known as the White Highlands. The settler occupation had the immediate effect of displacing huge rural populations to create land for white farmers. This caused disaffection with the natives. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in these prime lands in the process gaining a political voice because of their contribution to the colony’s market economy.

The Central highlands were the ancestral lands to more than one million members of the Kikuyu community, majority of who had no land claims in European terms and lived as squatters. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax. Landless natives were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus of natives to urban areas ensued as their ability to eke a living from the land dwindled. There were approximately 80,000 white settlers living in Kenya in the 1950s.

The Kikuyu community made peaceful efforts to resolve its dispossession of the best lands by the settlers to no avail. In 1931, the Kikuyu Central Association sent Jomo Kenyatta (later to become Kenya’s first president) to petition the British government on the issue but this had little or no impact. The patience of the Kikuyu population wore thin with time leading to the outbreak of the Mau Mau rebellion in 1952.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor, Sir Evelyn Baring, requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King’s African Rifles to counter the insurgency.

Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954, after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege with African residents being screened and perceived Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. The Home Guard formed the core of the government’s strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans. The capture of Dedan Kimathi – in effect the Commander-in-Chief of the Mau Mau – in October 1956 in Nyeri signified the crushing of the Mau Mau and the end of the rebellion. The colonial government used this period to make substantial changes to land tenure policy. The most important of these was the Swynnerton Plan, which was used to both reward loyalists and punish Mau Mau.

The 1950s witnessed a radical shift in British colonial policy with then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan saying that if the costs of holding onto a particular territory far outweighed the benefits then it should be dispensed with. The Colonial Secretary, Sir Iain Macleod, subsequently accelerated decolonization and by 1961 had made the decision to grant independence to Nigeria, Tanganyika, Kenya, Nyasaland (Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). The British government organised three conferences at Lancaster House in London with Kenyan leaders to discuss a new constitution for the country.

Kenya attained independence in 1963 with Jomo Kenyatta as its Prime Minister under a Westminiter Constitution which divided the country into eight regions each with its government. The Queen of England was nominally the Head of State while Kenyatta was the Head of Government. This changed a year later when the country adopted a republican constitution making Kenyatta the president as well as head of state and government.
Kenyatta in his inaugural speech declared poverty, disease and ignorance as the three adversaries his government would strive to address. These were later enshrined in the seminal Sessional Paper No. 10 on African Socialism, the development blueprint that would guide the country’s socio-economic development path for the next four decades.
The country lacked skilled and adequate manpower in almost all fields. This resulted in the massive airlifts under the initiative of Tom Mboya for young Kenyans to study in American colleges and universities. Kenyatta’s first Vice President Oginga Odinga also organized parallel airlifts to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and India. These educated young men and women would play a crucial role in running the nascent African public service from the departing European civil servants.
Africanisation of the Public Service
The Kenyatta administration embarked on an Africanisation programme which was largely undertaken to indigenize the Kenyan civil service which was dominated by Europeans in all sectors. Africans took over the upper levels of the civil service at a rapid pace with the process being concluded by 1965, except for a few professional and technical positions. The University College, Nairobi (now UoN) was one such public institution where whites and other expatriates continued to dominate especially the academic positions through to the 1970s.
The Kenyatta era produced a largely “Administrative State” where bureaucrats rather than politicians wielded most state powers. This was because the President had greater confidence in civil servants as opposed to politicians.
The government was the engine of economic development and the biggest employer. It also held significant sway over economic policy as evidenced by: providing assistance to Africans to take over settler farms modernising agriculture in rural areas, and facilitating African entrepreneurs to establish businesses. The government also set up several state corporations to undertake development and/or provide specialized services in areas considered strategic to economic growth or where private entities lacked the huge initial capital outlays for investment.
However, the 1970s and early 1980s revealed inherent weaknesses in a highly centralized system of government. There were already glaring inequalities in development across the nation with most investments going to the former White Highlands in Central and Rift Valley provinces, and urban areas at the expense of the rest of the country. This inequitable allocation of resources spawned unemployment, financial crisis and rapid rural-urban migration.
Moi Era 1978-2002
Vice President Daniel arap Moi ascended to the presidency following the demise of President Kenyatta in August 1978. Moi retained the Presidency unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 and 1988, all elections held under the single party constitution. The 1983 polls were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on 2 August 1982.
The abortive coup was masterminded by a low ranked Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka, and was staged mainly by enlisted men in the Air Force. The putsch was quickly suppressed by forces commanded by Chief of General Staff Mahamoud Mohamed. They included the General Service Unit — a paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police.
Return to Multi-partyism
The 1998 election was held under the controversial mlolongo (queue voting) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their preferred candidates rather than the secret ballot. Massive rigging took place and led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. The turning point was in late 1991 when Moi prevailed upon Parliament to repeal Section 2(a) of the Constitution to allow for the formation of other political parties other than the ruling Kanu party. The tenure for which an individual could serve as president was also limited to two five-year terms. In multiparty elections held in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi won re-election against a divided opposition.
The Moi era was characterized by hard economic times which were the result of collapse of commodity prices on the world market, mismanagement of public resources, corruption and a bloated public service. The Government could not sustain service delivery standards to the satisfaction of the citizens. Public service reform became inevitable. This brought about the Public Sector Reform Programmes PSRPs). The gist of PSRPs was to bring about improvement in the delivery of public services. Moi’s major achievements were twofold: he maintained national and political stability, and he presided over the expansion of the education sector at all levels.
Kibaki Era 2003-2013
President Moi retired in 2002 after completing his second and final term. He was succeeded by Mwai Kibaki, until then, the Official Leader of the Opposition and at one time Moi’s former Vice President. The new government inherited a stagnant economy saddled with high poverty, unemployment, inflation and interest rates. The task before the new administration was threefold: to restore economic growth to generate employment opportunities that would absorb the high number of unemployed, especially the youth, and to reduce the high levels of poverty.
The Kibaki administration came up with the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation 2003-2007 as the primary vehicle through which it would improve provision of education, health and infrastructural services to Kenyans and create new jobs. The overall outcome of implementation of the ERS was improved growth in the Gross Domestic Product, increased collection of revenue and significant growth in foreign exchange reserves. There was also improved performance in the building and construction, tourism, manufacturing and ICT sectors.
The Kenya Vision 2030 is the country’s long-term development blueprint. The Vision which is being implemented through a series of five-year Medium Term Plans succeeded the ERS.
One of the pre-election promises of the Kibaki regime during the 2002 was the delivery of a new constitution which Kenyans had yearned for over the years. The constitution review process started in earnest in 2003 but later collapsed due to contentious issues which included: whether to adopt a presidential or parliamentary system of government devolution number of levels of government, and whether Islamic Kadhi’s courts should be entrenched in the constitution or not. The government took over the process and came up with a draft constitution which was taken to a referendum in November 2005. The draft was overwhelmingly rejected at the referendum after an acrimonious campaign. Kibaki dissolved the entire Cabinet except the Vice President Moody Awori. He used the opportunity to reorganize his government in the process dismissing ministers from the rival Liberal Democratic Party wing of the National Rainbow Coalition which had propelled him to power in 2003. The referendum and its aftermath planted the seeds of discord which would explode into the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
2007 General Election and Post-Election Violence
Kenyans went to the general election on December 2007. The election comprised Presidential, parliamentary and civic elections. The parliamentary and civic elections were considered to be generally free and fair. The presidential election was however perceived to be flawed with the results being bitterly contested by the mainstream opposition coalition. In the Presidential election, incumbent President Kibaki under the Party of National Unity ran for re-election against veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The tallying process was seen to as flawed with international observers saying that they were below international standards. This led to protests and open discrediting of the Electoral Commission of Kenya for complicity with Odinga rejecting the results and calling his supporters to mass action all over the country.
The protests escalated into ethnic violence and destruction of property, over 1,000 people were killed with a further 600,000 being displaced. The dispute stoked underlying tensions over land to re-erupt especially in the expansive Rift Valley Province, as in the 1992 and 1997 general elections. An African Union Panel of Eminent African Persons led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan brokered a peace agreement to end the political stalemate. The Annan panel brokered the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement which among other things provided for the formation of a broad-based Grand Coalition Government and review of the constitution.

On 13 April 2008, President Kibaki named a Grand Coalition Cabinet of 41 Ministers- including Odinga as the prime minister with two deputy prime ministers. The cabinet, which included 50 Assistant Ministers, was sworn in at the State House in Nairobi on four days later in the presence of Dr. Kofi Annan and other invited guests.
The constitution review process which had stalled three years earlier was revived and completed. A referendum to vote on the draft constitution was held on August 4, 2010 with the majority of Kenyans voting for the adoption of the new constitution. The new constitution inter alia delineates 47 county governments and gives Kenyans a comprehensive bill of rights. It was promulgated on August 27, 2010 at a euphoric ceremony in Nairobi’s historic Uhuru Park. The coming into effect of the new constitution heralded the beginning of the Second Republic.


President Kibaki was prohibited by the constitution from running for a third term. In the first general election held under the new constitution, the Jubilee Coalition’s Uhuru Kenyatta won with 50.51% of the vote in March 2013 against the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy’s Raila Odinga. Mr Kenyatta formed a government consisting of 18 Cabinet Secretaries (Ministers under the new constitution). There are also 47 county governments headed by governors directly elected by the people.


In the Lake Victoria basin, lava deposits have produced fertile and sandy loam soils in the plateaus north and south of Winam Bay, while the volcanic pile of Mount Elgon produces highly fertile volcanic soils well known for coffee and tea production. The Rift Valley and associated highlands are composed of fertile dark brown loams developed on younger volcanic deposits.

The most widespread soils in Kenya, however, are the sandy soils of the semiarid regions between the coast and the Rift highlands. To the north of the Rift are vast areas covered by red desert soils, mainly sandy loams. Kenya’s soils are subject to widespread erosion largely because of the lack of forest cover overgrazing and cultivation, especially in the arid and semiarid regions, also contribute to soil loss.

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