different circumstances enjoy equality of opportunity and hope and live dignifiedlives; a nation in which all Kenyans feel athome. Yet even as the nation totters on the brink of collapse, the reactionary forces of backwardness are re-grouping. They aremarshalled against the people of Kenya. They seek to hold us in bondage.They want to perpetuate their hold over thestate to protect their ill-gotten wealth.In this situation we need to retrace our steps. Where did the rain begin beating us?
Expropriation of a People’s
Land, Labour and Resources
The problems that we face today can betraced to bad colonial policies which have been compounded by myopic and narrow-minded post-colonial leadership.Inherited colonial structures were bound to be a challenge to national development.However, a committed visionary leadershipshould have been able to transform suchstructures and create a strong nationcapable of meeting the needs of the broadmasses of our people.It is worth remembering that Kenya is acolonial creation. In the process of colonizing Uganda to secure the source of the Nile and protect British geo-strategicinterests over the Suez Canal in Egypt andtheir maritime imperialist interests, theyneeded access to Uganda through Kenya.Thus Kenya was declared a protectorateand later a colony.
Creation of an Agrarian ColonialEconomy: For Foreign Kitchens andIndustries
Following the building of the Kenya
Uganda railway, the rich highlands of Kenya were expropriated and alienated towhite British settlers. This set in motion thecreation of an agrarian colonial economywhose primary purpose was to supplyBritish industries and kitchens. By 1915there were about 1,000 white settlers towhom over 4.5million acres of land had been alienated. The social and economicinfrastructure of the country wasconsequently organized to fulfil that purpose. African labour and resources wereforcefully expropriated as part of the primitive accumulation of capital in thecolonial economy.
Settlers: A Vision for a Homeland
Whereas the colonial office was concernedabout metropolitan imperial interests, thesettlers saw Kenya becoming a settler colony in the same manner as Australia and New Zealand. They had a vision of aKenya dominated by them as a ruling classdominating both the immigrant Indian
and the Africans. The colonialoffice was forced to issue the DevonshireWhite Paper in 1923 which asserted thatKenya was primarily an African country.This did not, however, stop settler interestsfrom dominating the content and directionof state policy. The settlers dependedheavily on the colonial state subsidies. Thecolonial state also ruthlessly extracted andrepressed cheap African labour to keepthem going, thus retarding Africanagricultural production. No investments were made in providingeducation and health facilities for Africans.When the colonial government paid anyattention to African education (the Phelps-Stokes Commission of 1924), it decidedthat Africans should receive only practical,agriculturally-oriented education suitablefor rural communities. In fact the settlerswere mad with missionaries for attemptingto give even rudimentary literacy toAfricans. No investments were made in Africanagriculture not to mention industry
Colonial Industrial Policy: ConsumerProducts for Settler Tables
As early as 1905, a number of import-export houses established branches inKenya to satisfy settler consumer needs.These included: Gailey and Roberts, UnitedAfrica Company, Mitchell-Cotts andCompany, Baumann and Company andLeslie and Anderson. All these exported primary commodities and importedmanufactured goods.However, before World War II a policy of Import-Substitution Industrialisation (ISI)was adopted. Instead of importing allmanufactured goods, a few industriesmanufacturing products for sale within EastAfrica were established. These included:East African Breweries, African Highlands produce Company, Kenya Tea Company,East African Tanning Extract Company,East African Meat Company, Magadi SodaCompany, and East African PortlandCement.It is important to note that all these firmswere established to promote settler andforeign capital interests. The colonial state,for example undertook to provide not onlythe loan capital for the construction of theEast African Meat Company (a subsidiaryof Liebiggs UK) but also to guarantee thefactory a steady through-put of cattle byintroducing compulsory purchasinglegislation. Consequently the colonial stateforced the Akamba herdsmen to de-stock their herds on the dubious grounds that theyhad over-grazed the land. The real reasonwas to protect white settlers.In the post-World War II period, the USAemerged as a new super-power and Britainwas in decline. US multinationalcorporations (MNCs) began penetrating protected British colonial markets. At thesame time, African nationalism began tothreaten the continued hold of settlers over the colonial state.
ndependence and After: The Creation of a Subservient Political Elite
In this context, Britain passed The ColonialDevelopment and Welfare Act of 1940which provided greater possibilities for initiating industrial projects within thecolonies. Within this framework, theBritish sought to chaperon a guidedunionism to avoid working class rebellions.They also sought to enhance the formation
of a „responsible middle class‟ which could
guarantee capital investments and profitrepatriation from the colonies. This way,African nationalists could be brought in toshare power with their former colonialmasters.The period between 1945 and1963 saw theemergence of a radical nationalistmovement that began to demand for independence. The Mau Mau insurgencyforced Britain to begin a rapid process of de-colonization. The Swynnerton Plan(1954) argued that the development of capitalist agriculture among the peasantrywould be the best way to indigenizecapitalism thus providing a bulwark againstthe emergent radical nationalism.
The Kenyatta Era:
Betrayal of a Peoples’
KANU came to power as a popular nationalist movement with a promise, notonly to liberate Kenya from the yoke of colonialism, but also our people from thedegrading conditions of life they had beensubjected to by imperialism. KANU promised to eradicate poverty, disease andignorance. Kenyans were thereforeextremely excited about the future.However, by the end of the first republic,the national dream was dead. It had beenkilled by narrow ethnic chauvinism.Kenyatta failed to restore displaced personsto their lands; in fact this was a major pointof disagreement within KANU. The millionacre scheme was hijacked by government