Early political organizations in Kenya up 1939.

The Africans were faced with a number of problems in all aspects of their lives, political, economic and cultural, it was against this background that political and social movements were formed to try and redress the grievances.

The interaction between the races also played a significant role in the development of there political movements and their leaders in Kenya.

African political movements began in the 1920s after the First World War

Characteristics of early political organization

  • They were led by mission educated Africans like Harry Thuku and Jonathan Okwiri.
  • They were a non violent.
  • They had similar grievances e.g forced labour taxation etc
  • They were formed from ethnic/tribal grounds
  • The receives support from Asians e.g material and moral support membership was small as majority of Africans did not see their importance.

Early Political Parties

  • East African Association(EAA)
  • Kikuyu central association(KCA)
  • Kavirondo Tax payers and Welfare Association(K.T.W.A)
  • Ukambani Members association (U.M.A).

The East African Association (E.A.A)

In 1921 the leaders of the young kikuyu association, which had been formed in June 1921 dissolved and formed another association known as the East African association as they wanted unity from other communities.

It covered a wide area namely Buganda, Nyasaland and Taganyika they demanded it the following.

  • Tittle deed for land owners.
  • Removal of the Kipande system.
  • Improve wages.
  • Better working conditions
  • Reduction in pull and hut taxes.

Members included

Harry Thuku – Chairman

IM. Ismael

Johnstone Kamau (Jomo Kenyatta)

Norman Mboya

Abdalla Bin Assumah.

Kibwana Bin Kembo

Jesse Kariuki

Joseph Kangethe.

In 1921 they had a public rally in Ngara road and addressed the following.

  • Kenya should not be a colony
  • The election to the legco is on a common roll.
  • All alienated land is returned to the Africans.
  • More educational support unities are created for Africans.
  • There should not be compulsory distocking to be discouraged.

On 14th March 1922 Harry Thuku was arrested and charged with instilment, sedition which led to demonstration and riots in Nairobi with demands for his unconditional release.


  • The authoritarian governor Sir Edward Northey was recalled.
  • Dr. John Athur was nominated to represent the Africans interest in legco.
  • Africans interests took centre state at the Devonshire White paper talk.
  • The colony government began to pay services to African interests.
  • There was international concern about the colonial activities in Kenya.
  • E.A.A became the 1st worthy national political association.

Kikuyu Central Association (K.C.A)

It was founded in 1924 after the demise of E.A.A its head quarter was Kihuhia in Murang’a


Joseph Kang’oto         –           President

Jesse Kariuki              –           Vice President

Henry Gishuru                        –           Secretary

Job Muchuchu                        –           Treasurer

Henry Mwangi

Henry kiiru

John Mbuthia


  • Revision of the 1915 crownland ordinance.
  • Release of Hary Thuku.
  • An end to arbitrary drawing of resolve boundaries.
  • An elected Kikuyu paramount chief.
  • Proper demarcation of African land and Issue of land title deeds.
  • Increased educational opportunist to Africans.
  • African participation in the political affairs of the country.
  • Pressing for the reduction of taxes.
  • Having the burn in growing cash crops among Africans lifted.

The KCA want establish it’s headquarter in Nairobi in 1927. It intensified its activities and launched its newspaper (Mwigwi thamia) meaning reconcile which emphasized unity and hard work.

Jomo Kenyatta who was the editor was later sent to England to represent the K.C.A grievances.

The party also educated for female education. It also provided leadership and guidance in the establishment of the independent schools and churches.

K.C.A also supported establishment of Ukambani members association and Taita Hills Association.

K.C.A was bummed in May 1940 and leaders arrested and departed to Kapenguria.


It has its roots in the young Kavirondo Association (YKA) which was founded in 1921 by student and teachers of Maseno School with the following members.

Jonathan Okwiri         –          president

Benajmin Owour        –           Secretary

Simon Nyende            –           Treasurer

Ezekiel Apindi           

George Samuel Okoth

Joel Omino

Mathayo Otieno

Jeremiah Awari

This meeting was attended by both Luo and Luyhia communities the meeting called itself Piny Owacho the voice of the people.


  • Abolition of Kipande system
  • End of forced labour.
  • Scrapping high taxes for Africans.
  • Better Wages.
  • Revocation of change of status from the protectorate to colony.
  • Establishment of separate Legco for Nyanza and creation of paramount chiefs.
  • Issuing oif title deeds to African land owners.
  • Introduction of high education for Africans.
  • Establishment of more governemtn schools in central and Nyanza.
  • Excemption of women from taxation.

On 8th July 1922 Association officials met Sir Edward Northey who agreed to look into their demand to refuse to promise in the issue of reverting the colony to protectorate.

In July 1923, missionary Archdeacon Owen of the Christian missionary society in Maseno was appointed as the head king Kikuyu Association who transformed it from a political associatin into multi-welfare association hence the name KTWA.

Under Owens Leaderhsip the association concentrated in social and welfare matters such as education, hygiene, demacatio of African reserves and the provision and the provision of title deeds to African land owners.

In 1928, KTWA opposed a native authority ammintment which wanted Africans to be imprisoned of failure to join communal labour camps and the same year it sent representatives to the Hilton young commission which had been set up to consider Africans grievances in land and other issues.

In 1930 the association began loosing its momentum due to internal disagreement and factions’ e.g the Abaluhya formed their wing known as North Kavirondo central association in 1934. The association survived until 1944.

The attempt made to implement KTWA were

  1. In order to encourage better food production the association organized the 1st Agriculture show at Maseno in 1923.
  2. Initiated the 1st ever Harambee contribution to provide bursaries for the needy pupils at Maseno.
  3. It sought to promote close association with colonial administration.


It was formed towards the end of 1922

Members included

Samuel Muinid Mbingu         –           Chairman

Elijah Kavule                          –           Vice P

Isaac Mwalozi                        –           Secretary

Simon Kioko                           –           Treasurer


  • Agitation against Jestocking Policy which had colonized soil erosion due to overstocking Akamba cattle wre taken away forcefully and slaughter at Athi river by Leibig and Europen Company.
  • UMA took the opportunity to mobilize the community against the unpopular decision made by Muindi Mbingu.
  • The policy was dropped in 1st December 1988 because of UMA agitation.
  • UMA barned in 1940.


It was formed in 1943 at members

Members were

Nawanasele – President

Mohammend Bin Mwichande            –           Vice Presidnet

E.W Timothy                                      –           General secretary

H. C banks                                          –           Honaranry Treasuere

Mohamned Bin Omar

Enoch Benjamin

H. G Harrison


  • Better education and health
  • Improved agriculture.
  • Lower taxation
  • Appropriate soil conservation measure
  • Upgrading of shimo la Tewa school to a secondary school
  • Appointment of African colonial officials.


It was formed in 1939 with the following members.

Mango Waresha Kalondi       –           Chairman

Paul Chumbo                          –           Treasurer

Jimy Mwambichi                    –           Secretary

Members of Association used to write letters to the colonial government as a result the colonial government shifts its plan of moving the Wataita from ancentral land in the hills to the plains.

The govenement revised the Taita receive boundaries and reduced the land initially covered out for European settlers.

Colonial government stoped distocking measure among Wataita.

Achievements of early Policitacl organizations.

  • Promoted unity by mobilizing Africans to demand for their rights.
  • Represented grieveances of Africans community to colonial government.
  • Promoted African culture e.g female circumsion.
  • Promoted polticial consciousness among the African by raising political awareness.
  • They campaigned for better wages and better working conditions for African labourers.
  • They published the grievances of African community the outside world.
  • They formed the basis for struggle for independence later.

Problems faced by early political organization.

  • Harassment of the member by the colonial authority
  • Arrest and deportation of the leaders.
  • Wrangling between leaders.
  • Lack of experience by the leaders to effectively manager the organizations.
  • Shortage of funds to implement their programmes
  • Disunity among the organization resulting from their being ethnic best.
  • Banning of the organization by colonial government in 1940.


They emerged as a result of protest against mission churches and schools established by different missionary societies.

The missionaries trained Africans to be catechists, government clerks and workers on their farms, in the churches they emphasized the benefits of Western culture as appeared to African culture.

Many Kenyans at first rejected missionary attempts towards conversion and education. Latin, however which they realized that education was leading to material benefits and responsibilities, they began to demand it.

In 1919, the colonial government had agreed to give financial support while the missionaries provided the supervision, management and partial financing of schools.

Africans began to established their own churches and schools. This was in response to the negative attitude and open discrimination against them by the missionaries applied with the general injustice of the colonial administration that frustrated African interest. People of Kenya thus used independent churches to resist against the excessive of colonialism.

Causes of the rise of independent churches and school

  • Kenyans were against the westernizing influence of the missionaries who taught against female circumcision, polygamy and payment of dowry.
  • The education which the mission schools provided prepared Kenyans for law status jobs such as clerks in government offices, workers on Europeans farms and houses and catechists in churches.
  • There was open discremation against Africans in church leadership. They were not given high position.
  • In many parts of the country. Land was alienated by European settlers Kenyans, therefore wanted better education to enable them improve their economic status.
  • The white missionaries were also perceived as colonialists.
  • African initiatives where some Africans claimed to have had revelations from God to establish their own churches.

The Independence movement in Nyanza

John Awalo’s Nomiya Luo Mission

He received wide education and experience from several mission schools. He started a Roman Catholic, and then joined the Scottish mission at Maseno and Nairobi.

In 1907, he claimed to have a vision in which and directed him to start his own religion he broke away from the CMS and founded his own mission. The Nomya Luo mission – 1n 1910. Nomiya Luo mission meansv “the mission that I was given” or “the mission that was given to me”

John Owalo proclaimed himself a prophet and denied the divinity of Jesus but accepted that Jesus was a prophet and Son God.

Within a few years he had over 1,000 followers and built his own primary school, and a secondary school in which missionaries would not interfere.

He preached that the end of the world was just about, and the Whiteman would be killed since they were devils and Africans were to be left inpependent.

John owalo’s movement illustrated the determination of African christains to run their own churches and schools and their right to accept or reject some of the white man’s teachings.

The Christian universal evangelist union.

This union was set up in 1938 by Ishmael, a former teacher and preacher.

The Anglican church reached nyanza from Uganda in 1906, since the CMS missionaries had been in Buganda since 1877, in 1938, a revival movement reached Nyanza, also from Uganda. This resulted in the conversation of many people here and in other parts of Western Kenya.

Ishmael became their leader and from Maseno, he revivalist movment spread to many parts of Nyanza province, mainly through the efforts of his new disciple’s .the people were saved by the blood of Jesus and public confession of their sins.

His follower preached in market plaes, particularly in the evenings, composed and sang moving songs that attracted many people who were women, such as the second and third workers of polygamous marriages as well as the wives of usaved husbands. They left their homes and went to live in Newshore.

Noo’s – followers insisted that both men and women should sleep together irrespective of blood relations or moral codes since they were all saved anyway.

This caused a cutting and opposition from the mission churches and other revivalist gaps.

Therefore, in 1948, at a big convention at Nyabondo in Nyakach New broke away from the Anglican Church and found his onw Christian universal Evangelical union. He led his breakaway church up to his death in 1960.

Independence movement in central Kenya.

The immediate cause of the rise of independent churches and schools in central province was the disagreement in 1929 between the Church of Scotland mission and the Agikuyu, over the issue of female circumcision.

The missionaries had earlier condemned polygamy, drinking of alcohol and paying of dowry however the issue of promote circumcision caused a clash between the missionaries and the Agikuyu.

Those who refused to denounce their traditional customs were suspended from their churches and their children were not allowed into mission schools.

It therefore became necessary for the affected people to set up their own schools and chrucehs.


It was established at Gaithioko in Kamba in 1913. It was built by elders of the community on land donated by Mukunga WA Njehu. Another school was established at Githunguri on land donated by Wilson Gathuru.

The school began to charge fees initially it was free. The circumcision controversy led to the mushrooming of many independent schools and churches among the Agikuyu. These schools faced many problems such as lack of teachers and poor co-ordination

 too independent schools sprang up.

The Kikuyu independent school Association (KISA) established in 1929. It was later affiliated to the African independent pentecoastal church.

The Kikuyu Karing’a Education Associatin (KKEA) in 1933 later linked with the African orthodox church.

The CMS mission agreed to train KISA teachers at a cost of sh 80 per teacher per term for a period of two years.


The African Independent Pentecostal church (AIPC).

Africans were required to got permission to hold prayer meetings. One of the biggest problems faced by independent churches was the lack of ordained ministers.

The independent movement began soon after the dispute with the Church of Scotland mission over the issue of female circumcision in 1929. In the movement the new schools, churches and political parties worked hand in hand through secretly.

After breaking from the gospel missionary society, the independent churches were allowed by the DC to build churches and several schools in several places around Kihumbuini.


After the creation of the African independent Pentecostal church, two African orthodox churches were also formed oen was founded by Arthur Gathuna Gatungu and the other by Philip Kiande at the Githamba seminary.

Arthur Gathuna Gatungu was an ex-student of Alliance high school and teacher at the Githamba School. During Alexandar’s stay in kikuyu land, he became Gatungu’s close friend and interpreter.

Alexandar insited that Gatungu be admitted at the seminary though he came from KKE Arch, Kiambu, while the seminary was run by KISA. Later he founded his church at Waithaka in Southern Kiambu.

Characteristic of Independent Churches and schools

  • They retained some traditional customs such as female circumcision and polygamy.
  • They were not against education and Christianity, but against the westernizing influence of the missionaries and type of education and literature that was being offered.
  • The leadership in both schools and churches was Africans.
  • They were somehow connected with political parties wich were founded to oppose colonial rule.
  • Unlike political movements which were mainly based in towns, the independent schools and churches had their following form the rural masses.
  • The independent schools and churches were somehow connected with political parties which were founded to oppose colonial rule.


  • Wrangling between the leaders.
  • Competition from the missionary churches and schools.
  • Closure of the institutions by the colonial authorities during the emergency.
  • Shortage of manpower to manage their activities among teachers.
  • Shortage of funds to implement their programmes.
  • Harassment of the members of the missionaries and the colonial authorities.


The political and social movements which were active in early 1920s and 1930’s were burned and their leaders put in detention for fear of creating internal unrest.

Factors influenced formation

  • Rising of African awareness through acquisition of western education maumau uprising which forced Britain to decolonize.
  • Establishment of nationalist parties’ e.g K.A.U
  • Return of Jomo Kenyatta strengthened the nationalist movement (1946).
  • Formation of U.N.O which favoured decolonization.
  • Nomination and election of Africans in legco provided them with a forum to agitate for employment.
  • Lack of support for colonies by tax payers in Europe.
  • The Pan African movement inspired African nationalist to struggle for independence.


On October 1944, Francis Khamisi organized a meeting of African leaders in Nairobi attended by 33 African leaders. Members include

Harry Thuku – President

Francis Hamisi – Secretary

Albert Divine – Treasurer

An Otata

Eliud Mathu

James Githuru

Aims of KAU

Help Eliud Mathu in his new task of representing African interest in Legco

  • To coordinate African nationalist activities
  • To pressurize for more constituonal regions for Africans.
  • To demand improved washing conditions for African workers.

They did not advocate political independence. Any changes were to be carried out from within and through the existing institutions of the government, the colonial government felt uneasy and suspicious about K.A.U. the name it had military cannotations and on the insistence of the governor, it was changed to the Kenya African study union (KASO) in November 1944. This implied that the union’s purpose was to educate the people on public affairs.

There was friction between the moderates and radicals in the union. The moderate who believed in bringing changes through established constituonal channels were led by Eliud Mathu and Tom Mbotela. They advised their followers to use peaceful means to solve their problems.

They opposed certain methods advocated by the militant radicals, in January 1945, James Gichuru was elected president of the union.

It advocated such longer standing African grievances as the abolition of the Kipande system of registration, the restoration of African land and more African referees in the legco.

In 1946, during the second annual delegates’ conference it revealed to its original name of the Kenya African Union (KAU).


  • Release of Africna political prisoners.
  • Demanded for end of racial discrimination
  • Demanded for return of alienated land
  • Reissnance of little deed to Africans
  • Improved working condition and equal pay
  • Abolition of taxation and Kipande systm
  • Free and compulsory education for Africans.
  • Africans to get there land including white highlands.
  • Return of alienated land.
  • Self government for Africans by Africans.
  • This was after the return of Kenyatta from England in September 1946 and his assumption of presidency of KAU on 1st June, 1947 gave strength to the union.


  • Arrest and detention of the leaders.
  • Lack of effective leadership
  • Had hostile colonial administration
  • Lacked political awareness among the Africans due to illiteracy.
  • Inadequate funds to run the organization.
  • Conflicts between radicals e.g Fred Kubai who advocated for the use of free unlike mathu favoured peaceful means in the attainment of independence.
  • The meetings convinced the former KCA leaders of KNU’s legitimacy as a possible instrument for the achievement of a country wide political unity.
  • With Kenyatta’s return, there was a real opportunity to develop KAU into the dominant means of on enhancing African nationalism.
  • The organization of KAU in Kikuyu land and Rift valley was still largely controlled by the former K.C.A Leaders.

Meanwhile, the struggle between the moderate elements in KA’s leadership and the radical continued. The conflict reached its climax in 1951. The Nairobi branch of KAU had been taken over by the radicals in June of that year with officials.

Fred H. Kubai chairman

B. M. Kuggia – Secretary – general

Paul Ngei – assistant secretary general

They demanded the removal of the moderate elements form the radical national executive committee.

Kenyatta, however, frustrated the plans of the radicles by insisting that KAU must not be turned into a Gikuyu union.

He suggested that the secretary – general of the party should come from Nyanza and that other parts of the country should be represented in the executive committee.

J. D Otiende was elected secretary general

Paul Ngei assistant

Mr Ole Nanyurai from Narok treasuere

Kenyatta president

Kenyatta’s greatest achievement was to teach the people to be united as Kenyan people. He extended KAU’s foothold into Nyanza and the coast.

Some nationalist thought it was to moderate while others thought that it was a Kikuyu –dominated party. KAU also faced financial problems and lacked effective leadership.

In 1951 KAU members in Nairobi decided to revitalize the activities of KAU and make it more radical in pursuing its policies. Radical leadersh were elected to lead KAU Fred Kubai was elected chairman, J.M. Mugai vice – chairman and Bildad Koggia secretary.

The government was scared by the renewed KAU activities and its support for mau mau. In response, all KAU rallies outside Nairobi was banned KAU leaders were also forced to denounce maumau.

The governor declared a state of emergency on October 20, 1952, following the murder of chief Waruhiu. The entire national and district KAU leaders were arrested and detained because of the connection with maumau.

Other KAU members acted swifting and elected now office – bearers. Fanuel Walter Odede was elected acting, president, Joseph Murumbi acting secretary and www Awori acting treasurer.

Achievements of KAU

  • KAU United Africans in the struggle for independence
  • KAU promoted Afrians nationalism
  • KAU helped to improve conditions of Africans like they were against taxation and Kipande.
  • KAU publicized the grievances of Kenya internationally by sending delegations to complain about colonial oppression and exploartin.
  • KAU supported the mau mau war for independence.
  • KAU laid the foundation for KANU.


Factors that facilitated Mau Mau

  • Use of guerilla tactics which made it difficult for the British to suppress the rebellion.
  • Oathing helped to unite fighters.
  • Support of civilians who supplied food and equipment.
  • Natural forest e.g abaadare and Mt.Kenya provided gand hidesout.
  • Resourceful and courageous leaders who had participated in World War II inspired the inspired the reste of Dedan Kimathi, Stanley Mathenge and general China.
  • There was military experience due to participation in World War II.

Causes of Mau Mau

  • Land alienation
  • Forced labour
  • Kipande system
  • Poor living and working conditions for Africans.
  • Interference in African culture by colonial government to missionaries.
  • Lack of Africans representation in legco.
  • Distocking policy
  • Law wedge
  • Unemployment
  • Racial discrimination


At the end of the 2nd World War the ex – services on returned homw with a lof of experience. They were joined by other KAU extronist nationalists who were dissatisfied with the slow progress offered by the constitutional reforsm in affecting political reforms.

The movement aimed at realizing its objectives through acts of violence.

Members were recruited through the ways of traditional oathing practices which work also served to maintain the secrecy of the movement. This later became mau mau.

The government declared the movement unlawful in 1951 consequently the leaders of the mau mau movement left the Nairobi area and moved into the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya forests, from where they conducted guerilla warfare.

In October 1952, senior chief Wambiu was murdered by the freedom fighters for his collaboration with the government leading to state of emergency declared by Sir Evelyn Barring. Kenyatta and there KAU leaders were arrested and charged with supporting and organizing violence in Kenya. The aimed forces were mobilized to help suppress the movement.

In April 1953, Kenyatta and other KAU leaders were tried at Kapenguria and sentenced to seven years imprisonment at Lodwar and KAU banned in June 1953.

There was mass arrest in Kikuyu with leaders like Waruhiu Itote and Dedan Kimathi as the state of emergency was not lifted until 1960.

Problems faced by Mau Mau.

  • Arrest and killing of leaders.
  • Poor co-ordination by guerillars.
  • Lacking of transport and communication facilities
  • Lack of proper fighting equipments.
  • Division due to disagreements
  • Lack of food and other basic needs
  • Torture of family members and Mau Mau followers.
  • Lack of dedication by forced members.


  • It led to the loss of many likes.
  • Arrest and dentention of Africans.
  • The war deplected the resources of the colony and Britain.
  • The banana formation of political associations was lifted.
  • The Agikuyu community was divided socially into loyalists. Collaboration and traitors and those who didn’t support the colonial system.
  • It motivated Africans and the rest of the continent to fight for their own freedom from colonialism.


A meeting was held in May 1960 which led to the formation of Kenyan African Natioanl Union (KANU).

Objectives of KANU

  • To fight for political independence.
  • To achieve national constitution under a uniting national constituoin under one central government.
  • To create a society based on African socialism.
  • To eradiate poverty, ignorance and disease.
  • To fight for the return of olienated African land.
  • To fight for the realease of all political detainers.
  • The encourage good neighbourliness in the East African Region.
  • To unite with liberation movement in other African countries to end imperialism and coloniaslim in the continent.

A provisional draft of the KANU constitution was drawn by Mwai Kibaki and others.

During the Kiambu meeting where elected the officials of KANU, Daniel Arap Moi was away in London, while Ronald Ngala was in America.

Kenyatta was realeased and took over leadership of KANU from James Gishuru who acted as president when he was in jail.

Kenyatta led the KANU team to second Lancaster House conference in 1962 which led to the May 1963 second general elections.

KANU again won the elections and formed the government on 12th December 1963 with Kenyatta as the first Prime Minister and Odinga as Minister for Home affairs.


  • Uniting Kenyans in the independence struggle.
  • Educating Africans on their political rights.
  • Partipating in the second Lancaster houase conference of 1962, which lead to independence constitution.
  • Putting pressure on the release of political detainees.
  • Leading Kenya to independence in 1963.


After the return of Ngala and Maji leaders of the Minority gaps like Kalenjin, North Eastern and coastal regions formed KADU in June 1960, leaders were

Ronald Ngala

Daniel Arap Moi

Masinde Muliro

Justis Ole Tipis

1st electins were held in 1961; KANU won 19 seats and KADU ill end three seats went to the smaller parties.

KANU refused to form a government while Kenyatta was still detained. Ronald Ngala, the president of KADU was asked to do so with the support of Michael Bundell’s New Kenya Part (NKP).

In August 1961, Kenyatta was realased together with those detained with him and elected to the legco in 1962.

During the 1963 multiparty elections, KADU was defeated again by KANU. KADU became the official opposition party. In 1964, KADU dissolved itself and its members joined KANU.


  • To safeguard the interests of the minority tribes.
  • To push for a federal constitution.
  • To organize and maintain a political democratic union in legco and the country.
  • To demand for the release of political prisoners.
  • To demand for constituonal reforms.
  • To provide an efficient that represented all areas in Kenya.
  • To formulate domestic and international policies.


  • It represented the minority ethnic groups.
  • It participates in the drafting of the independence constitution.
  • In enlightened the Africans on their political rights.
  • It provided chairs and blances to the KANU government.
  • In August 1961 Kenyatta was released together with those detained with him and elected to the legislative council in 1962.
  • During the 1963 multy party election KADU was defeated by KANU
  • KADU became official opposition party in 1964 KADU dissolved itself and its members joined KANU.


It was formed after the ancestr house conference lead by Paul Ngei.

Its members were drawn from the Akamba peoples union.

It was formed on regional basis to represent the interest of the Akamba who were suspicious of the Luo, Kikuyu dorminated KANU & KADU.

In May 1963, the independence elections were held under the Federal constitution (Majimbo)

APP was among them and won and seats in their federal assembly when Kenya was granted internal self government (MADARAKA).

Soon after elections Paul Ngei and App member joined KANU leaving KADU as the only opposition party. He was given an insterial position by Kenyatta.


Trade unions are association of employed persons

Their main purpose is collecting burgaining for member welfare.

It prayed a key roll in the struggle for independence in Kenya.

The government introduced laws which forced Arficans to work in settler farms for wedges.

At the coat there was no problem in recruiting x-slaeves to work for the Europeans since this new system of wedges earning labour was by far much better than slavery.

Laws were enacted to legalise the initial policy of the government in relation to labour.

There was anti-slavery act in 1900, that the tax ordinance of 1901, servants ordinance of 1904, the labour ordinance of 1907. The registration of domestic workers ordinance of 1910 and others.

It was obligating for every male African abore to age of 16yrs to be registered at the district registration office at the area where he resided.

He had to give this particular: the name, fathers name, tribe, location, sub-location, age group, circumsion age and a full set of finger prints impression.

The conditions of employment at the time were pathetic, labourers were overworked and underpaid.It was an attempt to find a solution to these problems the trade unions awere formed.


It begun in Mombasa as athe union was known as African workers union (AWU)

It was a rolling centre for strikes.

It 1st occurred in July 1936, in the morning of the 13th of July 15,000 workers participated. On 3rd day the workers decided to form their union which they named (AWU) officials Mwangi Mahcaria – sec, Muhamed Kibwana – president, Muhurk Kemo-Treauser.

Inspite of the attempts to suppress the stikes by troops who had arrived in Mombasa on the 15th of the same month and the arrest of 421 strikes, the workers were not coward and the stike continued. The union sent a letter to the paper of East Africa publishers giving reasons of their strike which were to giving wives and children allowances taking no notice of the northern high coast of living. Deliberate devices to keep Africans poor so that they may stay on at their work all the time.

 Partiality and disrespect shown to African workers whenever they were employed.

Indifferences towards paying the Africans equally with the other workers from other races to perform similar duties.

Hurry Thuku was called by the DC. He arrived in MOmbasa in Janary 23rd 1947 and made the strikers and their leaders.

He also discussed the problem of the workers with senior government officials.

In January 24th 1947 he attended a meeting of the union’s executive committee where they suggested a change f the unions name to the African workers federation.

The government hurriedly appointed Mr. Juscie Thakker as the president of a tribunial to investigate and decide upon the trade disputes in Mombasa.

The members were: A, hop Jones, F Holden, CV Merit, A.h. Noor Mohamed, J. Silas.

Within a short time the announced reomendation of an intrime award to some employees on Mombasa Island. There award gave a pay increase of sh.6.75 and raised house allowance by sh.3.25.

The award was boycaughted by the AWF because it applied only to a section of the workers and was therefore totally inadequate and unsatisfactory.

The resolution to boycaught the award was riched at a meeting of Mombasa workers had in Majengo area at the end of March 1947.

The meeting also elected new officials of the AWOF where Chege Kibacha became president, Hilton Mwanadal became sec and James Muchenda became an orgnanizing secretary.

An executive committee of 12 members was also elected. In 1947, the Nairobi taxi drivers changed its name to Kenya African Road Transporters and mechanics union in order to extend the scorp of origin transport workers all over the country.

In July 1947, the Nairobi trade unions decided to form a branch of the Africans workers federation with members Livingstone Kuria –chairman Mwangi Masharia – sec and Gatere Kigotho – Treasuerer.


It began on a large scale, recruitment campaign which helped to increase trade union membership. Through the activities of KFL, the Kenya federation of registered trade unions (KFRTU) was formed Tom Mboya became the general secretary 1953 he had in 1952 also formed the local government workers union (LAWU). Tom Mboya knew trade union could be instrumented in winning independence. Through the negotitiaon activity of KFL African workers were given a minimum wage. In 1956, 68% increased wages for African workers in Nairobi was obtained.


  • It led to improvement of living standards for the Africans and also wages.
  • Educating Africans on their rights pertaining employment rights.
  • It introduced concept of collective burgain. Played a role in the struggle for independence as it filled the volume created by political orgnaisation in 1952 after the arrest of African leaders.
  • Promoted regional cooperation as workers from different regions came together.
  • Unions promoted cooperation between employers, employees and the government through consolidation.


  • Their leaders and members were harrased and victimized by the colonial government.
  • Poor leadership due to lack of trained personel with the knowledge of trade unions.
  • Shortage of funds and mismanagement of funds. Ignoarance of the people on the role for trade unions. Choice of the leaders was influenced by ethnic confideration rather than competence.
  • Constant humbles among the leaders of the trade unions.

Role of women in the struggle for independence

  • They were the backborn of the resistant movement against colonial invertion in Kenya.
  • During the Agusi resistance the elderly kituku prophets.
  • The moraa inseted one of the worriors to spear Gerneal secretary in 1980.
  • In Ukamani prophets Syothune Kithuka used advanced called Kilimo to mobiles Akamba toprotest against British colonialism and arged them not to pay takes or provide labour.
  • During agiriama resistance Mekatilili WA Medza led the Giryama against the British.

Involvement of women in political organizations.

When Henry Thuku formed the E.A.A African women supported him

When KCA was forced in 1982 women supported them morally and financially until 1930 when they felt unrecognized and formed a party known as Mumbi central association.

Women circumsicion drew African women to more political parties from 1920.

They contributied to the establishment of independent schools and churches e.g legio Maria was formed to a womn is Westenr Kenya called Auko.

In central Kenya women composed songs and dance that radiated the colonial chiefs and government.

Although men dominated senior positons in KAU movment many members were women.

Women were imprisoned and detained due to political movements. Eg Sarah Sarai who was detained due to participation to KAU in Nairobi.

Roles of Women in the Mau Mau Movement

  • Women were involved brutally in the construction of roads and terrace due to absence of mena and in communical work as they were serving the Mau Mau movement.
  • Women participated in aimed resistant against the British e.g Martial Muthoni.
  • Women from Kikuyu, Aembu and Ameru, joined the forest to organize and co-ordinate their movement. Women supplied basic amedities to freedom fighters.
  • Acted as spies for the Mau Mau by gathering information form home guards about the colonial force. Composed songs to mobilize fighters and redicule home guards.
  • Participated in the authority ceremonies where as others acted as chief administrators.
  • Women refused betraing mau mau fighters even when they were detained at Kamiti due to their active participation to the movement. Women were recognized and given a prominent recognize in Kenya.
  • Jemima   was nominated to the legistlative assembly whereby becoming the 1st women in Kenya. In 1960 another woman Pricilah Abwalo was nominated to the regislative council and became the 1st women in the African delegation to take part in the 1st loncaster haouse conference London 1960. After independence Grace Anyango became the 1st May of Kisumu.

Constitiuonal changes leading to independence in Kenya.

Several factors prmoted decolonization in Kenya and other African countries after World War II.

Experience ex-soldiers encouraged them to demand more political rights. The Pan African movement also pressuired the colonial powers to grand poltical independence to their subject people.

Colonial powes began to realize that colonies were becoming too expensive to run especially due tofrequent revolts and violence used by the colnised people against the colonizers.

Many factor persuaded the British governemtn to take some measures towards decolonization in Kenya.Key among this was constituon reforms.

African Representation to the Legco (Eliud Mathu)

Eliud Mathu

The 1st African to be appointed to the legislative in 1944.

He was a former teacher of alliance High and a graduate in Hoat have college in South African.

After KAU was formed in 1946. It demanded an increases in African representatives in the government .

This led to Benire Changa another African to be appointed to the legistlative in 1946.

By 1946 the number of Africans in the legco was for compared to 11 Europeans, 5 Asians and 2 Arabs.

Nevertheless Africans in Kenya still fat that the progress was too slow following the Mau Mau uprising and the declaration of state of emergency as the British secretary for colonies owned by Oliver Lythelton visited Kenya in 1954.

The British government realsied that there was a need to involve the Africans in the adminsitratior at the same time reduce the settlers influence. It was of this reasons that the report of East African royal commission of 1955 was taken serial.

It called for an end to racial discrimination, increased involvement of Africans in the colonial administration. The opening of Kenya highlands which were until then exclusively used by white settlers to all races.

The Lyttelton constition

Oliver Lyttelton the British colonial secretary visited Kenya and made constitution reforms. He supported creation of multivation society wher all races would share political power.

He proposed the place of existing governor executive councils or multi-ratio councils of ministers should be formed to represent the 3 races.

The un-official members of the new council would now include: One African, 2 Asians and 3 Europeans.

The African and official members was B. A Mutanga the 1st Africna to be appointed minister became minister for community development and African affaired in 1954.

Although two Africans were in the council by 1955 they opposed the little time constitution becaue it onlyu strengthened the European position.

The European were not happy either they objected very strongly to the involvement of the Africans and Asians in political management for the colony. The electionary group of the Europeans was led by Captain Briggs.

In 1955, the governemtn lifted the bank on political orgnisation in the line with the recommendation of colonial secretary Oliver littelton.

However African was aloud to form only local political orgnaisatio that ewer district based as opposed to national wide of political parties. The political parties soon formed Nairobi’s people convection party led by Tom Mboya, Taita African Democratic Union (TADU) lead by D. Mwanyumba, Abagusii Association (AA) led by John Kibasu, Kenya National congress (KNC) led by Argwin Kodhek and the Maasai Throan led by John Keen but the Mau Mau was still went on in March 1957 the 1st Africn election to the legislative were held those who won elections include:

Masinde Muliro – North Nyanza constituon

Laurence Oguda – South Nyanza

Ronald Ngala – Coast

Daniel Arap Moi – Rift Valley

Benrard Mate – Central

James Muindi – Ukambani

Oginga Odinga – Cental Nyanza

The Afircna united members of the legislative formed an organization known as the Afican elected members orgnazation (AEMO) with Oginga Oding – chairman.

Tom Mboya – sec and demanded for the following

That more sits be given to theAfricans

That election should be by a common role based on universal afranchise.

The release of Kenyatta and other missionaries.

Role of African elected members of parliament in the struggle for independence

  1. Pressurised for independence
  2. Made known the African grievances in National forumns.
  3. Sort for release of imprisoned and detained missionaries.
  4. Demanded for greater political rights for Africans.
  5. Made Kenyatta popular as anationalist hero.
  6. Participated in the formulation of independent constitutent.
  7. Enlightened African masses on the liberation struggling
  8. Formed nationalist political parties’ e.g KANU and KADU which spearheaded for country into independence.


Lenor – Boyd succeded Oliver littleion as the secreaty of the state for colonies.

His recommendation/proposed

  1. The number of African elected members raised from 8-14 in the legislative council.
  2. Double the number of African ministers trop 1 – 2.
  3.  Introductrion of multo-ration representative in the LEGO by providing for 12 special elected four from each of the three races.

Reforms initiated by the lennox-boyd proposals

Creation of 6 more African constituencies.

Elections were held in March 1958, increasing the no. of African elected members in the legco to 14.

The AEMO opposed the idea of the specially elected members but they were appointed without their participation.

The 2nd African minister, Musa A Malemba was appointed as minister for housing in 1958.

Lancaster house conference.

By 1958, the colonial government had declared it’s commitment to remove racial barriers and grant political independence of Africans.

This however had opened concern, as both the radical Europeans and AEMO were offered to multi-racialism.

The Lancaster house conferences were therefore conviened to ion out these differences.

The 1st Lancaster house conference (1960)

The colonial secretary was Ian Macleod and the governor to Kenya was Sir Patrick Renison.

It was convened at Lancaster house in London the headquarters of the British colonial office in January 1960. Attended by all the members of the legco.

The African team was led by Ronald Ngala the chairman and Tom mboya the secetary.

European delegates were led by Captain Briggs and Sir Michael Blundell.

They came up with a compromise constitutional change as follows.

  • The 12 elective seats of specially elected members in the legco to remain intact.
  • There would be 33 open seats in the legco, which were to vied for on a common roll.
  • Another 20 seats would be reserved, 10 of those to be altered to European, 8 for Asians and 2 for Arabs.
  • Composition of the council of ministers was to be altered to incorporate 4 Africans, 3 Europeans and 1 Asian.
  • Authorized Africans in the formation of nation wide political parties.
  • State of emergency was to be lifted.

Reforms arising from the 1st Lancaster house conference.

  • Preparation for election to be held in 1961.
  • Formation of KANU and KADU.

1961 election-KANU won 19 seats while KADU won 11 seats.

Four of the African elected members of the lego were appointed minister.

James muimui- minister for health welfare.

Ronald  Ngala- minister for labour, social security and Adult Education.

Julius Gikongo Kaino- minister for commerce and industry.

Formation of new ethic alliances for fear of ethnic domination by large ethnic groups.

The kalenjin political alliance led by taitu towett.

Coast African political union by Ronald Ngala.

Kenya Africans peoples party by masinde muliro.

Settlers and other Europeans resented these reforms and began to sell their property, ready to live the country.

In 1961, the 21st of august, Jomo Kenyatta was released; Kariuki Njiri offered his murang’a constituency seat to Kenyatta enabling him to join legco.

The 2nd Lancaster house conference (1962).

Convened in Lancaster house London between febuary and april 1962, presided over by regional maulding, the then colonial secretary.

Its objectives.

  • Work out the final steps to self governance.
  • Draft independence.
  • Set out the difference between KANU and KADU.

The KANU delegation was led by Jomo Kenyatta and advocated for a strong unitary government while KADU was led by Ronald Ngala favoured (majimbo) known as independence Katiba which provided for the following.

  • A federal government with 6 regions each retaining Internal Katiba.
  • A strong central government led by a prime minister.
  • A governor-general as head of state and commandr – in – chief of the armed forces.
  • Party with majority seats would form government.
  • A by cameral legislation with ( two houses) that’s the house of the representave low house having 117 members.The senate, upper house 41 members.
  •  Spelt out the rights and obligation of citizen.
  • Spelt out the poweres and responsibilities of the central government.

Reforms innitated by the 2nd LHC

Holding of 1963 election KANU when 73 seats KADU got 31 seats and approximately won 8 seats.

June 1963 Jomo Kenyatta became the 1st prime mInister of Kenya.

1st June 1963 Kenya attained responsible self govenemtn “Madara”.

12th Dec 1963 Kenya Obtained full independence “Jamhuri”

The queen of Inland however remained head of state.

12th Dec 1964 Kenya was decalred as republic with Kenyatta as the 1st President.

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