The White Settlers In Kenya

  • The White Settlers In Kenya. The Europeans begun to settle in Kenya in 1896 and large number came in 1903.
  • They mainly came from New Zealand, Britain, South Africa, Australia and Canada.
  • Their aim was to set up plantation farms.

Reasons For Their Coming

  • The climatic conditions especially in Kenyan highlands were good, cool, and conducive for European settlement.
  • Very few Africans had settled in the high lands and this is perhaps why settlers settled in such areas in large numbers.
  • The Devonshire white paper of 1923 that gave the Kenya highlands exclusively to the whites also encouraged them to come to Kenya in large numbers.
  • Kenya had strategic advantage i.e. it had direct access to the Indian Ocean waters and a well developed transport network.
  • The construction of the Uganda railway line reduced transport costs and provided them with a reason to come and exploit resources in Kenya.
  • The nomadic way of life of the some of the Kenyan tribes like the Nandi, Maasai and Kikuyu also made it easy for the settlers to obtain land.
  • The colonial policy was clear that Kenya should be a settler colony which officially encouraged settlers to come in large numbers.
  • Many of the governors in Kenya were too lenient and sympathetic to settler demands e.g. Sir Charles Elliot (1902-1904), Sir Donald Stewart (1904 – 1905).
  • During the Anglo-Boer wars (1899 – 1902) in south Africa, a number of African farms were destroyed which forced many settlers to rush to East Africa expecting to find the same prospects.
  • The earlier reports made by the explorers also encouraged the settlers to come e.g. they reported about the fertile soils and reliable rainfall in Kenyan high lands.
  • After World War 1 in 1919, there was a need to resettle ex soldiers and therefore many of them ended up in Kenya as settlers.
  • The desire to stop inhuman acts of slave trade and introduce legitimate trade also encouraged many whites to come to Kenya.
  • Many Africans were poor and were willing to work on settler farms and therefore the white settlers came to Kenya to exploit the idle and unskilled African labour force.
  • Charismatic leaders like Lord Delamare also encouraged settler farming because he was a successful farmer and encouraged many settlers to grow cash crops.

Problems faced by White settlers in Kenya                                                                     

  • Settler farming faced strong opposition from Africans e.g. the Maasai and Nandi constantly raided the white settler farms.
  • The world economic depression after World War 1 greatly affected the white settlers as their crops lost market because of the low prices.
  • Diseases also frustrated the settlers e.g. the cows were attacked by East coast fever and tick borne disease while wheat was attacked by leaf rust.
  • The white settlers lacked funds to carry out large scale farming e.g. some were too poor to buy land or even pay workers.
  • Some crops like tea and rubber required large estates which the settlers could not get easily.
  • In some areas the soils were infertile due to mineral deficiency which also led to low output.
  • The colonial government paid less attention to the problems of the settlers because it was only interested in reducing costs of administration.
  • A lot of time was wasted by the white settlers on the experimental growing of some crops e.g. rubber.
  • There was competition from imported products e.g. wheat was imported on a large scale.
  • Labour was not enough mainly because Africans were not willing to work on European farms.
  • Poor transport also affected settler farming in Kenya e.g. many parts were not connected to the railway line.
  • Most of the Kenyan land was barren and unproductive e.g. in Maasai land.
  • There was theft of settler food by the Pastoral tribes like Nandi, Maasai and Turkana.
  • Tropical diseases that affected the settlers like Malaria, Sleeping sickness e.t.c.

Effects/role of white settlers in Kenya’s economic development

  • The white settlers introduced plantation agriculture i.e. Cash crop, economy in Kenya like Pyrethrum, rubber, wheat.
  • Settler farming stimulated the development of communication net works e.g. roads were built and Uganda railway line extended to areas like Kitale.
  • The growing of cash crops also led to the development of modern and scientific methods of farming e.g. use of fertilizers and setting up large fenced farms.
  • Because of increased business activities, modern towns and trading centers like Nairobi developed.
  • The introduction of plantation agriculture enabled the Kenyans to shift from substance farming to large scale farming which brought in more money.
  • With increased agriculture, small scale industrialization took place e.g. 1906; UNGA Limited established a grain mill in Nairobi.
  • The settlers introduced the rearing of exotic animals in Kenya e.g. exotic sheep, cattle and pigs were imported from New Zealand and Britain.
  • A lot of land that was previously idle was put to good use by the settlers who established large farms for cash crops and rearing of animals.
  • The establishment of the plantation farms created more employment opportunities for the Africans who improved on their standards of living.
  • The growing of cash crops disrupted the traditional African patterns of farming i.e. African started growing crops they were not going to eat.
  • Because plantation farming was in the hands of the white settlers, the economy of Kenya was therefore put in the hands of the whites.
  • Africans lost much of their lands particularly the Kikuyu, Kamba, and Maasai.
  • The white settlers dominated the politics of Kenya which caused political problems and this resulted into the 1923 Devonshire white paper declaration.
  • The movement of Africans with in Kenya was restricted by the colonial government which led to the introduction of identity cards (Kipande).
  • African loss of land and segregation tendencies of the whites led to the formation of nationalistic movements like Mau Mau.