This essay analyses the effect of colonialism in Kenya. It explains the depth of colonialism within Kenya’s context and analyses the impact of colonial conquest, the imposition of international and local administrative boundaries. It also examined further the lasting consequences of colonial economic and social policies concerning colonialism in Kenya. This essay gives more explanation that has to do with British colonialism in Kenya. Colonialism developed from imperialism, which can be referred to as the highest stage of capitalism. Capitalism, imperialism and colonialism share the following definitions: political and cultural domination and economic exploitation. At a particular point in time it became necessary that the three processes exist together. In Kenya’s case, as with the rest of Africa, the starting point was the 1884/85 British Conference, which set the rules of colonial occupation.
Together with the 1886 other inter- European territorial arrangements, the conference was instrumental in not only erecting artificial boundaries around Kenya but also in wresting diplomatic initiative from Kenyan people. In 1894 and 1894 Britain declared protectorate over Uganda and Kenya, respectively. Kenya’s boundaries were demarcated without the consultation of Kenya’s people. It can be conceded that the colonial boundaries led to the establishment of a large territorial entity. But they arbitrarily brought together over forty previously independent communities into one territorial entity. The fact that the administrative and ethnic boundaries were coterminous nurtured negative ethnicity as different communities competed for colonial resources. According to the 2nd document, we realize that Inter-ethnic competition would characterize the post in 1945 nationalist struggles and post-colonial politics. Examples include attempts by so-called minority Luyia, Kalenjin and coastal communities to establish quasi-federalism as a counterpoise to Kikuyu-Luo domination in independent Kenya.
Furthermore, the colonial boundaries would also lead to Somali secessionist attempts by the Kenya Somali in their bid to join their kin and kith in neighboring Somali. The colonial state employed authoritarian force to hold Kenya’s diverse communities together. Colonial military expeditions led to genocide and forced migrations of people among the Agikuyu, Abagusii, the Nandi, Ababukusu, Giriama and all the others who met colonial force with force. Colonial conquest led to loss of sovereignty as colonial rulers replaced indigenous leaders in Kenya. This was one of the ironies of British indirect rule towards Kenya people. Based on empty platitude, British indirect rule often led to recruitment of British collaborative agents and porters into leadership positions.
Colonial military expeditions led to genocide and forced migrations of people. Moreover British colonial administration reflected orders from Britain rather than the consensus of community leaders. Colonial governance through Chiefs’ councils, native tribunals and local native councils was therefore a mockery of democracy. Chaired by colonial district officers these institutions acted as legal and administrative devises that were intended to keep Africans in their subordinate place. The purpose they served included political expedience and imposition of administrative costs on Africans. Law and order was, therefore, maintained in the interest of British capitalist accumulation. British colonial economic policy in Kenya included the following: Land alienation for European settlers , African taxation, African migrant/forced labor development of settler dominated agricultural production and peasant commodity production, export production, rail and road transport and communication, education and health.
There was, for instance a clash of interests between metropolitan capitalists and the colonial state in Kenya. British merchants and financiers often won the day. Internally African, Indian and European settler interests were also at variance. More often than not European settlers had the ear of pro-settler governors. Moreover, in the interest of capital these policies were anchored on partial dissolution and restructuring of pre-colonial structures. It was also in the interest of capital to place the market under the colonial state’s control. This was done with greater enthusiasm during the post-Second World War period more popularly known as the second colonial occupation. Colonial commodity production, because of inappropriate practice, led to widespread environmental degradation.
Forest concessions, which were granted to individuals and companies led to massive deforestation. Colonial enterprises destroyed local industries. Generally the colonial economic policies in Kenya were instrumental in incorporating the pre-capitalist communities into the colonial and international economic systems. This persisted into the post-colonial period. Similarly, Christian missionary activities destroyed African culture through the gospels of salvation, obedience and work. Through Western education, which they dominated despite the colonial state’s role, Christian missions preached against African cultures. They were emphatic that the Africans’ salvation must be gauged on the extent to which traditional cultural practices were abandoned. Their invocations about obeying the government because it is God who placed it there was meant to make Africans obey the colonial regime. Euro-Christian capitalist work ethic inculcated individualism and acquisitive culture. Colonial education therefore fostered the emergence of quiescent and obedient elites.
They served the colonial state and economy as semi-skilled workers, clerks and chiefs. But some of them like Jomo Kenyatta and Tom Mboya. This nationalism had its basis in primordial ethnicity and colonial administration. It was only after the establishment of the Kenya African Union that the nationalists attempted territory-wide mobilization of Kenyans. The colonial state carefully chose the leaders of the independent regime as it laid the grounds for neo-colonialism. As elaborated below the colonial economy and education established the structures and provided the historical forces that fundamentally influenced Kenya’s colonial and post-colonial society. Kenya’s economy is has a narrow base. It is not adequately diversified. It relies on a few primary commodities including coffee, tea, pyrethrum and flowers for foreign exchange. As a consequence Kenya’s economy lacks the desired auto-dynamism. This is primarily due also to the economy’s external linkage, which places it at the mercy of fluctuations in world prices. Despite the country’s pursuit of structural adjustment programs since the 1980s the Kenyan state continues to exercise control over the market through price regulation.
As happened during the colonial era the market continues to serve as an instrument of political control and exploitation. Furthermore, Kenya’s economy continues to be technologically, financially, commercially and monetarily dependent on Britain, other European countries, the United States of America, Japan and, increasingly, China. Since the advent of political independence Kenya has successfully diversified the range of countries which she is dependent for foreign aid. The consequence of this has been the deterioration in the country’s balance of payments. It is logical to conclude that contemporary African state has been determined by its colonial origins.
The colonial legacy in turn has been altered in crucial and often negative ways since political independence was attained”. There existed and continues to exist within Kenya’s post-colonial social formation an uncomfortable mixture of the pre-colonial, colonial and global economic structures. The imposition of colonial boundaries, administrative system, economic and social policies only partially destroyed and restructured Kenya’s pre-colonial communities. As a consequence, Kenya people’s ethnic identities were politically enforced. The colonial state remained alien and governed through authoritarianism.