From Classic Encyclopedia 1911
"KENYA COLONY 4.601). - The East Africa Protectorate, commonly known as British East Africa, was annexed to the British Crown in July 1920 and renamed Kenya Colony after Mt. Kenya, the most commanding natural feature of the country. The coast lands included in the protectorate which formed part of the Sultanate of Zanzibar were, however, not annexed; these became the Kenya Protectorate. The present article deals with the country as a whole after 1910, before and after the change in the form of government.
Census returns for 1911 gave the white pop. as 3,175 and the Asiatic (mainly British Indians) at 11,886. In 1920 the whites numbered about 5,570, Asiatics 17,427, Arabs (i.e. those long settled in E. Africa and not classed as Asiatics) about 8,000. The native pop. was estimated at 2,620,000. Mombasa, the chief seaport, had 32,000 inhabitants (350 Europeans); Nairobi, the capital, 15,274, of whom 2,020 were Europeans and about 5,000 Indians. The town has handsome public and private buildings, and nearly all the conveniences of a European city.
The period 1904-14 witnessed a great development in the highlands. The area suited to white colonization proved less than had been supposed and does not greatly exceed 12,000 sq. miles. Nearly all of this area had been alienated by 1921. In addition considerable areas along the sea-coast and adjoining Victoria Nyanza were developed by whites as " jungle " plantations, and a beginning made in exploiting the mineral deposits. Unlike the Baganda and other tribes of the Uganda Protectorate the natives produced comparatively little on their own account for export, except sim-sim, which is in demand for its oil, and is grown extensively by the natives of the Nyanza province. Somalis conduct a large trade in cattle. The white settlers in the highlands grow maize, wheat, barley, coffee, potatoes and other vegetables, fruits, flax, etc.; in the lowlands coco-nut, sisal, rubber, cotton and tobacco are the chief products. There are extensive grazing grounds in the highlands with large stocks of cattle and sheep. There are a few ostrich farms. By 1920 over 500,000 ac. had been granted for timber exploitation.
The Uganda railway was taxed to its greatest capacity to carry the rapid increase in goods. This growth of traffic was largely due .to exports from the Uganda Protectorate and the north-west part of German East Africa. A branch line, 93 m. long, starting from the Uganda railway 282 m. from Mombasa (i.e. S. of Nairobi), was built in 1911-2 to the Magadi soda lake. Owned by the company which exploits the soda, it is worked by the Government. Another railway (30 m. long) was built from Nairobi to the Thika river (towards Mt. Kenya), opening up a rich highland region. In 1915-6, for military purposes, a railway was built from Voi (103 m. from Mombasa) via Taveta to Kahe, on the Usambara railway, German East Africa. But lack of adequate means of communication was a great hindrance to the opening up of the country.
Between 1909-10 and 1913-4 revenue increased from £503,000 to £1,123,000 and expenditure from £669,000 to £1,115,000. In 1912 the protectorate became self-supporting. Railway receipts, licences, taxes and customs are the chief sources of revenue.
The value of imports (excluding railway material, administration stores and specie) rose from £775,000 in 1909-10 to £2,147,000 in 1913-4. In the same period exports increased from £590,000 to £1,482,000. In the last-named year tonnage entering Mombasa and Kilindini harbours was 1,791,000. In the same year the net revenue from the customs reached £197,000, the highest recorded. Of the exports goods to the value of £443,000 were the produce of the protectorate; Uganda exported goods worth £564,000 and goods worth £448,000 reached Mombasa from German East Africa. The principal exports from the protectorate itself were hides and skins (147,000), grain (118,000), copra (£J5,000), coffee (£18,000) and fibre (£16,00o). Tobacco figured in that year (1913-4) for the first time in the exports. Over 60% of the trade was with the United Kingdom or India; the rest went chiefly to the United States, France and Germany. The German East African steamship line had however a large share in the shipping (over 600,000 tons in 1913-4) both to Europe and Bombay.
The World War rendered the trade returns of 1914-9 abnormal, imports largely increasing to meet the needs of the army and exports fluctuating greatly, while shipping dropped. More than half the white settlers joined the military forces and agriculture and stockraising suffered in consequence. The revenue and trade figures for 1918-9 were: revenue, £1,5}8,000; expenditure, £1,570,000; imports, £ 3,397, 000; exports, £2,498,000; tonnage, 455,000; customs receipts, £257,000. In 1919-20 a period of depression set in, and while expenditure was £2,170,000 revenue was only £'1,726,000. In 1920 - I (year ending March 31) revenue and expenditure was estimated to balance at £3,192,000. The increase was nominal rather than real, for the basis of calculation had been changed from rupees at 15 to the £ to florins at To to the £, the rupee being given the value of a florin (see below). Despite efforts at economy the year closed with a deficit of £166,000. From 1920 the Uganda railway surpluses which had up to then gone into the general revenue account were devoted to railway developments. In 1917 the customs departments of the protectorate and of Uganda were amalgamated.
In July 1909 Sir Percy Girouard became governor in succession to Sir J. Hayes Sadler. The white community, then numbering some 3,000, was chafing under long delays in obtaining land grants and other grievances. Sir P. Girouard achieved the difficult task of working harmoniously with the settlers, who were largely recruited from the upper and middle classes of England, though they included some hundreds of Boer families. The settlers were mostly men of capital, and in io years after the first settler (Lord Delamere, the 3rd baron) had made the highlands his home that region was provided with churches, schools, hospitals, newspapers, substantial farmhouses and fenced farms and race and golf courses. The climate had been shown to suit the European constitution, though even at an altitude of 5,000 to 6,000 ft. manual labour under the Equator was not possible to many white men. The bulk of the farm work was done by the Kikuyu, a race with an aptitude for agriculture. Nevertheless much of the labour was of an indifferent character. Normally relations between the whites and the natives were satisfactory, but there were exceptions. In Sept. 1911 the indignation of the white community was roused by the deportation of Mr. Galbraith Cole, a pioneer settler, by order of the British colonial secretary. Mr. Cole, after vainly seeking protection from stock thieves, shot dead, while he was trying to escape, a Kikuyu caught sheep-stealing. Tried at Nairobi for murder the jury had acquitted Mr. Cole without leaving the box. One result of this episode was the taking of measures by the administration to afford the white settlers better protection, while the Kikuyu and other tribes were given reserves in which they were secure from interference by the settlers. The problem of obtaining adequate labour was serious, and an ordinance compelled the natives to give 60 days paid labour a year on public works. A circular issued in Oct. 1920 was so worded that it aroused the suspicion that the administration was favouring compulsory labour for private persons (i.e. the white farmers) and caused many protests in Great Britain. In July 1920 Lord Milner (then colonial secretary) made it clear that no such compulsion would be allowed. In general the good master had little difficulty in getting sufficient native help. In 1921 some ioo,000 natives were working for Europeans.
In July 1912 the resignation was announced of Sir Percy Girouard, who had accepted an offer to join the engineering firm of Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. in England. Mr. (afterwards Sir) H. C. Belfield, the new governor, who had served 25 years in the Malay States, reached East Africa in Oct. 1912.
In June 1913 a missionary conference was held at the settlement of Kikuyu (some 15 m. from Nairobi) which was the subject of wide-spread and acute controversy. The missionary societies, as in many other parts of Africa, carried on the greater part of the work not only of Christianizing, but of civilizing the natives, giving them industrial as well as literary education. Their influence is great and nearly always beneficent. The Kikuyu conference was called to consider the matters of common interest to all Protestant missions. At the close of the conference the Bishop of Mombasa (Dr. W. G. Peel) officiated - in a Presbyterian church - at a communion service in which Anglicans, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and others took part; a service not unusual in the mission field. But this service was strongly denounced by the Bishop of Zanzibar (Dr. Frank Weston), who sought to have Dr. Peel's action condemned. This the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Randall Davidson) refused to do. The aim of the Church, he declared, was to create, out of the labours of all, a native African Church, not a part of the Church organization of England transplanted to Africa. The harmony among the various missionary bodies at work in the country was not disturbed by this episode and the reports of the administration bore increasing testimony to the value of their labours. The missionaries found some of their strongest supporters among the white settlers.
The hostile attitude of the Merehan tribe in Jubaland compelled the Government to begin operations against them in Dec. 1913, and disturbances among the Turkana and other tribes in the frontier district adjoining Abyssinian Somaliland necessitated further operations. Thus when the World War began in Aug. 1914 nearly all the military forces of the protectorate - one battalion and two companies of the King's African Rifles - were in the region most distant from the frontier of German East Africa, and it was some weeks before they could be brought back to Mombasa. In the meantime the majority of the male settlers volunteered for active service, and from their ranks two regiments were formed. The story of the campaign which followed is told in the article East Africa.
It was not until March 1916 that the protectorate was finally freed from German incursions. The war proved very onerous for the natives, heavy demands being made on them for carriers, transport oxen and for meat supplies for the troops, while large numbers of them joined the combatant ranks. The natives responded remarkably well to the needs of the campaign and, despite an inevitable shortage in the white staff and a great loss of cattle through rinderpest, their loyalty was not shaken, and the administration continued on practically normal lines. The official report for 1917-8 described the work of the district officials, chiefs and native authorities as " worthy of the highest praise." Tribes on the Abyssinian border and in Jubaland continued however to give trouble. They had never been brought fully under control, and during 1915-6, despite the exigencies of the campaign against the Germans, further punitive measures had to be undertaken.
In 1917 Sir H. C. Belfield went on leave and later resigned, the administration being taken over by Mr. (afterwards Sir) C. C. Bowring, chief secretary to the Government. Changes in the administration, including an elected Legislative Council, were recommended by a committee of the existing nominated Council in June 1917, but no action was then taken. On Jan. 3 1 1919 Maj.-Gen. Sir Edward Northey took over the governorship. It was a period of change and strain, and Gen. Northey was called upon to deal with difficult political, racial and economic problems. A currency crisis was one of the effects of the war. The original currency was the Indian rupee, and since 1905 the sterling had been legal tender at 15 rupees. With the appreciation of silver during the war the exchange value of the rupee began to rise in 1917. The rise, at first gradual, was rapid in 1919 and early in 1920 had reached 2S. 9d. The result was to inflict hardship on the producing class, not only in Kenya, but in Uganda, which had the same currency. In an effort, ill considered, to rectify this state of affairs the Colonial Office in Feb. 1920 fixed the rate of exchange at 2s. sterling a rupee for Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika Territory. This interference with the course of the exchange prevented the producer from benefiting by the subsequent fall in the price of silver and the reversion of the rupee in 1921 in the open market to the value of is. 4d. or less, and in effect added 50% to his costs. The result on the industries of Kenya and Uganda was serious. The very marked decrease in trade in 1920 - I was not due wholly to this cause; the fall in value on the world's markets of tropical produce was a considerable factor, and many of the recent white settlers were without experience as farmers or planters. Sir Edward Northey strongly but unavailingly opposed the alteration in the exchange value of the rupee. In April 1920 a further change was made - a new coinage based on British currency was introduced, the unit being the florin at 2S. sterling, at which value the Indian rupee continued current until it could be replaced. In May 1921, " to prevent too abrupt fluctuations in local values," the Colonial Office decided to make the shilling and not the florin the standard coin. This appeared a reasonable change, as the labourer, clerk and petty trader had persisted in regarding the florin as of no more value than the rupee at the old rate of exchange.
Conditions in Kenya were further strained by the failure, as a whole, of a scheme launched in 1919 to establish ex-soldiers on the land. For this result the administration was partly responsible. Most of the settlers were allotted farms remote from the railway and in some cases undiscoverable, while the need for considerable capital had not been sufficiently made known.
During this period the change from a protectorate to a Crown colony was effected. In July 1919 an ordinance came into force establishing an elective element in the Legislative Council for Europeans, with two nominated members representing the Indian community and one nominated member representing the Arabs. A sufficient number of other nominated members was however retained to give the administration a majority in the Council. Eleven single member constituencies were created for the European electors. Adult franchise on a residential qualification was enacted. The first election was held in Feb. 1920. This was followed, in July 1920, by the formal annexation of the protectorate to the British Crown and the change of name to Kenya Colony. At the same time the raising of a large loan under the Colonial Securities Act was announced, the money to be spent chiefly on railway development, harbours and other public works. The building of a deep-water wharf at Kilindini so that goods could be loaded direct on to the Uganda railway was begun.
The discrimination against Indians made by the administration and in the new constitution caused acute controversy. The Indians outnumbered the whites by nearly three to one, and while the majority of them were mechanics, clerks, shop assistants, small traders or labourers there were many of higher class, professional men and merchants with large interests in the country. The effect of the growth of national sentiment and the progress towards self-government in India was seen in East Africa, where associations were formed to protect Indian interests. These were held to be threatened by the withholding from Indians of " due and effective " representation on the Legislative and Municipal Councils, by the adoption of the principle of segregation of races and by the restriction placed on ownership of land by Indians. The Indians claimed full political and economic equality with Europeans. Neither claim was admitted either in theory or practice by the white settlers in Kenya, to whom the development of the country was predominantly due. The Europeans had the support of the local administration and of the Colonial Office in London, though the Colonial Office disavowed racial prejudice. Such prejudice existed in Kenya, as was seen in the report (published in 1919) of an official commission on the economic condition of the country. If this prejudice was not shared by the administration its position was, as stated by Sir Edward Northey in June 1919, that " though Indian interests should not be lost sight of, European interests must be paramount." Lord Milner (Colonial Secretary), in a despatch dated May 21 1920 to Sir E. Northey, laid down certain principles affecting Indians, including approval of the segregation policy and the reservation of the highlands (outside municipal limits) for Europeans. He proposed that the two Indian members of the Legislative Council should henceforth be elected on a special franchise, similar arrangements to be made for municipal elections. To these proposals the Indian community replied by reiterating their demand for equal rights, and they found powerful supporters in the Government of India and the India Office. The case for the Indians was put with much cogency in a despatch by the Government of India dated Oct. 21 1920. This despatch stated that in the opinion of the Government of India the true solution of the problem was " a common electoral roll and a common franchise on a reasonable property basis, plus an educational test without racial discrimination, for all British subjects " - a formula which would admit natives as well as Indians to the franchise: Public opinion throughout India (the despatch added) regards the case of the Indians in East Africa as a test of the position of India in the British Empire. At the Imperial Conference of 1918, for the sake of Imperial unity, we accepted the reciprocity resolution, which practically excludes Indians from the self-governing dominions. We cannot agree to inequality of treatment in a Crown colony, especially in which India has always had a peculiar interest.
Further, objection was taken in the despatch to the application, as directed by the Colonial Office, of discrimination against Indians to the Uganda Protectorate, where Indians and Europeans had lived in full harmony. It was also pointed out that in the adjoining Tanganyika Territory, where Indians were protected by the Covenant of the League of Nations, Lord Milner's decision could not be applied (see Tanganyika Territory).
In June 1921 Mr. Winston Churchill, who had become Colonial Secretary, laid down as a principle for application to the Crown colonies and with special reference to Kenya, that there should be no barrier of race, colour or creed which should prevent any man, by merit, from filling any station for which he was fit.
In 1919 negotiations were opened with Italy for the transfer to Italian Somaliland of the right bank of the river Juba and of the port of Kismayu (see Africa: History). See Lord Cranworth, A Colony in the Making (1912) and Profit and Sport in British East Africa (1919); C. H. Stigand, The Land of Zinj (1913); A. S. and G. G. Brown, The South and East Africa Year Book and Guide; T. J. O'Shea (editor), Farming and Planting in B. E. Africa (1917); G. D. Hale Carpenter, A Naturalist on Lake Victoria (1920); Guy Babault, Chasses et recherches zoologiques en Afrique Oriental Anglaise (1917); and Voyage de M. Guy Babault. Re'sultats scientifiques (1916-20). An annual report on the administration, etc., is published by the Colonial Office, London, and a special report by J. Parkinson on the geology and geography of the northern part of the country (Colonial Reports, Miscellaneous, No. 91) appeared in 1920. See also the reports on the Uganda railway (Nairobi, yearly) and the British Parliamentary Paper, " Correspondence regarding the position of Indians in East Africa " (1921).
(F. R. C.)