British in Kenya (1888–1962)
The colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This was followed by the building of the Kenya–Uganda railway passing through the country.
This was resisted by some ethnicities — notably the Nandi led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1890 to 1900 — still the British eventually built the railway. The Nandi were the first ethnicity to be put in a native reserve to stop them from disrupting the building of the railway. In 1920 the East Africa Protectorate was turned into a colony and renamed Kenya, for its highest mountain.
During the railway construction era, there was a significant inflow of Indian people, who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction. They and most of their descendants later remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili Muslim and Sikh communities.
While building the railroad through Tsavo, a number of the Indian railway workers and local African labourers were attacked by two lions known as the Tsavo man eaters.
During the early part of the 20th century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea.
Struggle for Independence
From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King's African Rifles. The British began counter-insurgency operations; May 1953, General Sir George Erskine took charge as commander-in-chief of the colony's armed forces, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill
Independent Kenya (1963)
The first direct elections for native Kenyans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to "moderate" local rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on 12 December 1963, on the same day forming the first Constitution of Kenya.
On 12 December 1964 the Republic of Kenya was proclaimed, and Jomo Kenyatta became Kenya's first president.
Government and Politics
Kenya is a presidential representative democratic republic. The President is both the head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly and the Senate. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Kenya is divided into 47 semi-autonomous counties that are headed by governors who were elected in the first general election under the new constitution in March 2013. These 47 counties now form the first-order divisions of the country. Under the old constitution, Kenya comprised eight provinces each headed by a Provincial Commissioner (centrally appointed by the president).
Kenya is the biggest and most advanced economy in east and central Africa, and has an affluent urban minority, Kenya is still a developing country. It has a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.519, ranked 145 out of 186 in the world. As of 2005, 17.7% of Kenyans lived on less than $1.25 a day. The important agricultural sector is one of the least developed and largely inefficient, employing 75% of the workforce compared to less than 3% in the food secure developed countries.
Kenya is usually classified as a frontier market or occasionally an emerging market, but it is not one of the least developed countries
Agriculture remains the most important economic activity in Kenya, although less than 8% of the land is used for crop and feed production. Less than 20% of the land is suitable for cultivation, of which only 12% is classified as high potential (adequate rainfall) agricultural land and about 8% is medium potential land. The rest of the land is arid or semiarid. About 80% of the work force engages in agriculture or food processing.
Kenya is Africa's leading tea producer, and was fourth in the world in 1999, behind India, China, and Sri Lanka. Black tea is Kenya's leading agricultural foreign exchange earner. Production in 1999 reached 220,000 tons. Tea exports were valued at $404.1 million in 2001, or nearly 18% of total exports.
Coffee is Kenya's third leading foreign exchange earner, after tourism and tea. In 2001, coffee earnings totaled $91.8 million. Production in 2001/02 amounted to 52,140 tons.
Kenyan horticulture has become prominent in recent years, and is now the third leading agricultural export, following tea and coffee. Fresh produce accounted for about 30% of horticultural exports, and included green beans, onions, cabbages, snow peas, avocados, mangoes, and passion fruit. Flowers exported include roses, carnations, statice, astromeria, and lilies.
Kenya is the world's largest producer and exporter of pyrethrum, a flower that contains a substance used in pesticides. The pyrethrum extract, known as pyrethrin, is derived from the flower's petals.
Kenya also produces sisal, tobacco, and bixa annatto (a natural food coloring agent) for export. Other important crops in 1999 were sugarcane, 5,200,000 tons; corn, 2,110,000 tons; wheat, 135,000 tons; rice, 40,000 tons; and cotton, 5,000 tons. Smallholders grow most of the corn and also produce significant quantities of potatoes, beans, peas, sorghum, sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas, and oilseeds.