history of Kenya is very long and complex. From the "Cradle of Civilization" to
present date, Kenya's long history has been both varied and fascinating. This
section provides a comprehensive account of Kenya's history, divided into 11
Kenya's history dates
back to many centuries from the internal diaspora or the early settlements and
migrations. Then came the formation of the various language groups who developed
their own religions, traditions, governments and ruling systems in which they
dictated their way of life and how they managed to keep alive by their trade and
occupations. Then came the white settlers, which was followed by the fight for
liberation, which gave birth to the Mau Mau freedom fighters and the rise of the
Kenyan heroes. In the study of Kenya's past, a look at the present is also
inevitable, in order to be able to weigh the future.
Early - Late Stone Age
In this period, the oldest human remains were discovered
with artefacts suggesting pre-tool making. Evidences have been found in L.
Victoria, Highlands, Rift Valley regions. (handaxes, cleavers at site must have
been used as all purpose tools to cut and skin meat)
Later, the bow and
arrow were introduced and evidence representing this period has been found in
the L. Victoria and the Rift Valley and Highland regions. Three excavations, all
of Elmentaita saw the beginning of the arrival of new people probably from the
North who were responsible for the introduction of blade technology and new
kinds of tools.
Late Stone Age (3000 B.C. - 1000 B.C.)
Evidence of the arrival of a new people who were tall with
narrow heads and prominent noses and chins and who archaeologists think resemble
some of the present day peoples of Somalia and Ethiopia.
400 AD - Migration of the Bantu
peoples into East Africa.
600 AD - Arabs began to settle on
the Coastal area and this marked the coming
700 AD - Indian Ocean trade with
the Arabs, Phoenicians, Indians and Chinese.
They brought in cloth, pottery and glass beads in exchange of
shells, iron products and mangrove poles.
900 AD - Knowledge of iron working
came to the Bantu
1400 AD - The Portuguese reach the coast
1700 AD - End of the Portuguese empire in East
- Cape colony became British Protectorate
1800 AD - The great Trek, christian missionaries and
explorers come in to Africa
- The end of the Trek
1952 - 1970 - Kenya's Agrarian Revolution
Kenya gained Independence
Kenya became a Republic
- The first President of the Republic of Kenya, the Late Mzee Jomo
Kenyatta, passed away and Daniel arap Moi was elected as the next
- Kenya became a Multiparty state.
Kenya is grouped into more than 70
ethnic groups, Some of the ethnic tribes are large e.g. the Agikuyu who form a
majority of the population within their homeland in the central province and can
also be seen to be in large numbers in the other districts in Kenya. The other
large ethnic groups include the Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kalenjin- There are also
some groups of people who form a very small population. This includes the tribe
of El Molo.
Kenya's ethnic groups are divided
into three linguistic groups namely: -
- Bantu e.g. Embu,
Kamba, Kikuyu, Kisii, Luhya, Meru, Kuria, Bukusu
- Nilotes e.g. Luo,
Iteso, Nandi, Kipsigis, Marakwet, Maasai
- Cushites. e.g.
Boran, Rendille, Somali
The population statistics in Kenya
as at 1999 reveal that there were about 28,808,658 persons living in the
country. Of these, the structure is given as: -
|0 to 14
|15 to 64
|65 years and
The population growth rate is
estimated at 1.59 whereby the birth rate is given as 30.8 births per a
population of 1000 persons and the death rate is given as 14.58 deaths per
population of 1000 persons. The net migration rate is put at –0.34 per a
population of 1000 persons.
ratio can be shown to be: -
|15 to 64
|65 years and
The infant mortality rate is
estimated at 59.07 deaths per 1000 live births
The life expectancy at birth for the entire
population is 47.02 years.
Inauguration of President Moi
The suddenness of Kenyatta's death had much to do with the
eclipse of other presidential hopefuls. The sudden shock and immediate plunge
into deepest mourning for the man whose own history was synonymous with the
country's freedom struggle created an atmosphere which did not favour those who
would mark themselves out principally as land grabbers. With security well under
control and no sign at all of regional disturbance, the steady application of
constitutional provisions laid down for the succession went without a
hitch. Elections for a new president of KANU (Kenya African National
Union) were held as quickly as possible and Moi the Vice President then took
over as the new president.
A new order was being
established. President Moi's party won the elections and he made it plain that
KANU branches were not to be operated as special clubs for ambitious local
leaders but as a means for the mass involvement of the people in the political
life of the country.
At his inauguration,
Moi declared war on corruption, nepotism, bribery, inefficiency and all
malpractices which Kenya's detractors had consistently harped on. Probes and
investigations were set up to curb this new venture. Under a more or less
severe degree of public stricture were some branches of the civil service, the
activities of co-operatives societies, some parastatal organisations,
particularly those involved in agricultural production, certain banking
institutions and control mechanisms for foreign exchange allocations, property
Towards growth and development 1978 to now
The Fourth Development Plan 1979/1983 was a
blueprint for a new look of the Kenyan economy and society and the struggle for
it continues till today. The theme was the 'alleviation of poverty'. When
addressing the challenges we face, we have to take stock of our position. And as
we are all painfully aware, the situation is difficult. Poverty is high and
increasing. Food insecurity is afflicting an ever increasing numbers of
indices including life expectancy, nutrition
status, and education levels are deteriorating. Growth has
a halt, and per capita income is
failing. Public institutions are
dysfunctional and corruption is rampant, whilst personal
insecurity is increasing. These immediate problems must be arrested. The
strategy for the attack on poverty is the meeting of the 'basic needs'. The
creation of income-earning opportunities and the provision of education,
reasonable housing, water supplies, and a rural development infrastructure are
The plan has other
'hard option' objectives. It is recognised now that easy forms of development in
agriculture and industry are coming to an end. Redistribution of previously
owned land must now be followed by more intensive farming techniques including
higher inputs, and greater use of marginal land.
In the face of
increasing pressure on the highlands, agricultural planners have been obliged to
turn their attention to the far more difficult task of developing the arid,
marginal land. In this process the issue of alleviating poverty is also dealt
with. Some projects like cotton farming, rice irrigation in arid areas have
received some assistance from donor communities.
governance is synonymous with efficient public sector management and
development, and sustainable human development. To be in place, it calls for
peoples' involvement. It also calls for equal opportunity for all, political
accountability and commitment by rulers and the ruled, bureaucratic transparency
and access to information.
There must be a clear
and agreed definition of the role of state. At independence, concentration of
power in the government and allied institutions was considered the appropriate
reaction to both and economic efficiency and with it growth, an efficient state,
deriving its legitimacy from the citizens, dispensing justice to the people, and
capable of defending national interests in the global economy.
While political and
social stability should be nurtured through government actions, it critically
depends upon people of different ethnic communities, social groups, gender,
religious beliefs and racial backgrounds feeling mutually secure and identifying
with common national interests and aspirations. Kenya has maintained peace and
stability over the last 37 years and the Government will maintain the
institutional framework that will ensure that peace and security are
The constitution must
fully take into account the yearnings, the fears and the aspirations of Kenyans.
It must incorporate the culture, the values and the beliefs of Kenyans. And it
must be owned by all Kenyans. The current agitation for an all inclusive
constitution - making process is therefore right on the mark.
Civil and political rights are
inalienable rights which all people are entitled to enjoy, irrespective of the
stage of economic development in which they are. The Kenya Government is
cognizant that economic growth without respect of these rights does not
constitute or enhance democratization.
state must also be transparent, and in Kenya we have fared badly on the score.
Corruption in its many manifestation is widespread. It also deeply rooted. At
the core of corruption is the issue of governance.
People do not consider
what belongs to the government as their own. The contrast between the meticulous
care which is exercised over private and communal property and the plundering
and destruction of public property is telling. Democratization of state and
creation of awareness that state's property is people's property is therefore
critical. Beyond democratization, the laws against corruption must be applied
efficiently and fairly to all. There must also be a change in the mind set of
Kenyans, including the government itself. At independence, Kenyans took
pride on self reliance.
The nation's motto then
was "uhuru na kazi" - freedom and work.
Over time, there has been an erosion of uhuru na kazi
ethic. Citizens feel that they are entitled to get something from the government
without realising that what the government claims to own must come from
them in the first place. The noble institution of Harambee, initially a very
powerful vehicle for community empowerment, has been subverted to a mechanism
for political aggrandizement and rent seeking.
Kenya as a country seeks
a close relationship with foreign investors, particularly those from
western countries. The freewheeling relationship with international big business
has earned Kenya the reputation of a capitalist, free enterprise economy. The
result of heavy investment from abroad is a substantial reinvestment of earnings
by private companies operating in Kenya. This has provided a major contribution
to industrial expansion in the post - independence years.
In the context of health, Kenya has begun to move in the
direction of rural-based services concentrating more on the prevention of the
mundane everyday diseases such as dysentery and malaria and poor nutrition and
sanitation which are the real causes of high morbidity and mortality.
Since independence the Kenyan economy has experienced a
number of cycles of growth followed by downturns and stagnation. Immediately
after independence between 1964 and 1971 the economy registered a GDP growth
averaging 6.5%. The oil shocks of the early 1970s, the collapse of East African
Community and other external factors caused a marked slowdown in growth in this
decade. The "coffee - boom" induced growth in 1976 and 1977. The economy
stabilized in the 1980s with GDP growth around 5% being recorded, except in the
1984 drought year. However, in 1989 growth started to decline as a result
of poor weather, regional conflict and an influx of refugees, a global recession
that lowered demand for Kenya's traditional export, coupled with short term
dislocation caused by structural adjustment and inadequate macroeconomic
management and political uncertainty. However, a combination of improved
weather, the favourable impact of economic liberalization and the emergence of
the global economy from recession led to a much improved weather, the favourable
impact of economic liberalization and the emergence of the global economy from
recession led to a much improved GDP of 3% in 1994 and 4.9% in 1995 and the
predictions that future growth would accelerate to 6-7 %.It is the
Government's belief that the Kenyan economy is at a turning point and that the
steps taken over the past several years will now bear fruit in terms of economic
growth. On the economic front, we as a nation must devise sound trade policies
which will enable Kenya to participate constructively in the global
economy. And as shown earlier, good trade policy must be rooted in sound
development policy. Sound development policy in turn must make
strategic choices of where we want to be in the future. And that future
must be one of cohesive a nation with a strong and a growing economy whose
output is equitably distributed.
in the mid 1980's, the Government abandoned the old paradigm which upheld the
centrality of state planning and management of economic development, of
allocating resources and producing goods and services for public and private
development, development of small scale enterprises and human development must
be the centre piece of such a strategy. The strategy must also recognize the
primacy of industrialisation as a vehicle for long term growth. Successful
industrialisation will call for the provision of efficient infrastructure and
supporting institutions and policies.
Kenya the infrastructure has benefited from extensive expansion and upgrading
programmes which have been financed from both external assistance and Government
of Kenya's financial resources. Reasons for the continuing state of insufficient
available land or services include a poor maintenance culture which results in
erosion and accumulated capital assets, cumbersome land acquisition practices,
and inadequate public sector financial resources to undertake new capital asset
creation. The major physical infrastructural shortfalls are felt in power and
water supply, telecommunications, roads and rail, and port facilities. Great
measures are being taken by the government to accelerate these problems through
the setting up of Kenya Land Commission, Kenya Roads Boards among others.
Success in the
development of an economy depends on the policies a country has adopted and on
the institutional framework put into place to implement those policies. The
adoption of structural adjustment policies in Kenya has greatly changed the
country's socio-economic environment. Further, Kenya's economy must participate
in the international economy by joining the mainstream of global trade,
investment and technology flows. For Kenya to bring about rapid and sustained
industrial development in this highly competitive global market, an overall
improvement in the strategic management of the industrial sector is
required. This calls for the transformation of policies, practices,
attitudes and institutional framework.
Formal and Informal Sectors
One of the
greatest challenges facing Kenya is the creation of productive employment
opportunities for its rapidly increasing work force. The scale of the problem
demands that all resources and means are utilized to create jobs, enhance
incomes and livelihoods. All non-farm enterprises must be included in the
efforts to transform the Kenyan economy. Thus, within the more formal sector,
trade, commerce and service industries are already major sources of employment
and will pay a vital role in economic development and expanding Kenya's
exports. Similarly the informal small scale and Jua Kali sector must be
fostered to continue to expand and grow for it is expected that more jobs will
be created in this sector than any other off - farm sector.
Recent years have
demonstrated the dynamism of small scale and Jua Kali enterprises (SSJKE) in
creating employment and providing attractively priced products. Furthermore the
sector provides an essential training ground for developing the entrepreneurial
skills that are essential to Kenya's industrialization.
In order to expand
Kenyan market presence in traditional and new markets, an effective contact
promotion programme, market surveys and investigations, trade fairs, exhibitions
and trade missions shall be undertaken by Export Promotion Council (EPC) in
collaboration with other private and public trade related
For Kenya we need to go to the basics. We need to
intensify our efforts on nation building, including the all embracing
constitution review, good governance and formulate and implement sound
development policies. We need to build a strong and intergrated national
economy. It's only in this way that Kenya will participate meaningful in
the global economy.