Kenya’s. Role played by KANU towards the independence of Kenya

On 12th December 1963, Kenya finally attained independence from the British.Over 250,000 people gathered at the Uhuru stadium to witness the occasion. For more notes read more notes about commerce, entrepreneur Notes, biology

It was steered to independence through the efforts of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Kenya African National Union (KANU).

Role played by KANU towards the independence of Kenya

  • KANU was formed in March 1960 by mainly African leaders in the Legco.
  • James Gichuru was the party chairman/president, Oginga Odinga as the vice president and Tom Mboya was the General Secretary.
  • The party largely drew its support from the Kikuyu and Luo tribes.
  • It strongly opposed KADU’s federal system and campaigned for a strong central unitary government.
  • The party sensitized the Kenyans about the need for independence.
  • It worked as a mouth piece for the Africans to voice out their problems.
  • In 1960, it won a landslide victory in the elections but refused to form a government until Jomo Kenyatta was released.
  • It organized boycotts, riots and demonstrations that helped speed up the independence of Kenya.
  • It weakened tribal interests by being a mass political party although some people accused it of having only Kikuyu and Luo in its ranks.
  • KANU established ties with other political parties that were also fighting for independence like TANU in Tanganyika and CPP in Ghana.
  • It condemned land grabbing and disrespect for African cultures.
  • KANU won international sympathy, support and respect from all over the world.
  • It was involved in the formation of Mau Mau to liberate Kenya.
  • Using Mau Mau, it made Kenya ungovernable to the whites.
  • Using the philosophy of Harambee, national unity was fostered.
  • KANU groomed leaders who were instrumental in the fights for Kenya’s independence e.g. General China.
  • KANU participated in the constitutional process that led to Kenya’s independence.
  • On 12th December 1963, Kenya successfully attained independence with Kenyatta as the president.
  • The party therefore provided the first leaders of Kenya and formed the first government in Kenya.

Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

  • He was born in 1893 at Nsenda near Nairobi.
  • His first name was Kamau, but between 1909 and 1914, he attended a Presbyterian Mission School where he was baptized Johnston Kamau Wa’Ngenyi.
  • Between 1922 to 1928, Kenyatta worked as a water inspector for Nairobi municipality.
  •  During this period, he was an active member of a Kikuyu political organisation and he became the voice of the workers demanding for better wages and housing facilities.
  • In 1928, he was elected Secretary General of the Kikuyu Central Association whose main aim was to recover land lost to white settlers.
  • He also became the editor of the Kikuyu Language Journal called ‘’Muigi Thania’’ (Unity).
  • In 1929, he went to London as a representative of the Kikuyu Central Association and pleaded for the African loss of land to the colonial secretary. He returned to Kenya in 1930.
  • In 1931, he left for England and studied anthropology at the London School of Economics.
  • In 1945, he organized the Manchester Pan African Congress with Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore and others.
  • In July 1946, he returned to Kenya and he replaced James Gichuru as the leader of Kenya African Union (KAU), a party that demanded for more African representation on the Legco.
  • He became an active member of Mau Mau and with General China, Dedan Kimathi and Tom Mboya as the leaders of the movement.
  • During the same time, he also served as a principal of Githunguri Teacher Training College but his stay was short lived.
  • He was sacked by the colonial government due to his growing popularity.
  • Many KAU members were not impressed by Kenyatta’s decision to support Mau Mau activities.
  • In 1951, the party between split between the moderates and extremists who didn’t believe in the activities of Mau Mau.
  • Kenyatta stayed with the moderates because of the high respect he had earned himself and also stayed in contact with Mau Mau fighters.
  • In the same year, Kenyatta presented a memorandum to the Colonial Secretary Griffith, containing African demand for self rule.
  • In 1953, he was arrested on suspicion that he was the real power behind the Mau Mau guerilla activities.
  • He was sentenced to seven years in prison with other leaders e.g. General China and Dedan Kimathi.
  • In 1960, KANU was formed by African leaders in the Legco and they elected Kenyatta as president while still in prison.
  • In 1961, he was released from prison and he assumed leadership of KANU.
  • He was accused by some party members of being too town centered, radical and making KANU a tribal grouping of only Kikuyu and Luo.
  • This led to the formation of a new party called KADU (Kenya African Democratic Union).
  • Kenyatta tried to reconcile KADU and KANU but his attempts failed.
  • In January 1962, he was elected to the Legco and during general elections, KANU won with an over whelming majority.
  • In February 1962, Kenyatta attended the second Lancaster House Conference that was called to draw up a constitution for Kenya.
  • In May 1963, elections were held and KANU won with eighty two seats and its rival KADU got forty one seats.
  • On 1st June 1963, Kenya attained self rule and Kenyatta became prime minister.
  • He chose all his ministers from all races and always stressed African unity.
  • On 12th December 1963, Kenya achieved total independence at Uhuru stadium.
  • Prince Philip handed over the reigns of power to Jomo Kenyatta who therefore became the first President of Kenya.
  • In 1978, Kenyatta died.
  • He was popularly known as ‘’Mzee’’ a Swahili word for old man.