Definition of terms

Record management

This refers to the selection and organization of records and other recorded materials.

It also refers to an organized system by which records are created, organized maintained and disposed off.

The program concern itself with a life of records from the time it is created to the time it is either condemned for destruction or considered for permanent preservation.


Are all books, papers, maps, photographs or other documentary materials made or received by any public  or private institution in pursuit on its legal obligation or in connection with truncation of its proper business and preserved by that  as evidence of its function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities because of the information value  of Data contained in them.


This is defined in 3 different ways as; record, building and an institution.

1. Records

Archives are records of any institution either public or private which are judged worth for permanent preservation ie archive which has secondary value to other people than those who created them.

2. Archive as a building

This is a purpose build place for the storage of archives.

3. Archive as an institution

This is an institution entrusted with safe keeping of information materials.


Any medium with recorded information regardless of format or type.


This is a hand written document which can be recorded.


They are records of any ministry or government department, any commission office, board or other bodies established under the government or act of parliament but not including records of the public trustees, records of registrar general which belong to individuals or states.

Records of the high court, parliament and office are also public records.



This is a place set aside in an organization to help in records management ie to mange records which are created and received by the organization.

An organization can have registry or many depending on the size of the organization. Every organization requires a registry because their raw materials are records.

Importance of a registry to an organization

  • A registry serves as a corner stone of every organization.
  • Helping the organization to remember its past and also to know its future.
  • It strengthens an organization as it controls the whole organization

Requirements in establishment of a registry

One needs the following;


Staff both trained and untrained to do various activities

Space ie accessible room where registry will be established




Stationery ie paper, pens, pencils

Features of an ideal registry

  • It should not have mixed up records because handling time become more for retrieval.
  • It carries out records appraisal regularly.
  • Have retention disposal list, Retention is the period each record category should be kept before disposal.
  • Have a high morale staff ie accommodate the staff properly by giving them proper chairs, tables etc
  • Provide information as soon as it has been asked for ie there should be very quick retrieval.
  • Have a good classification system ie the classification system should be simple to use
  • Conservation policy. This is to ensure records are not damaged or stolen
  • The registry should have a suggestion box. This acts as a communication channel for easy communication.

Functions of an ideal registry

  • Control quality and quantity of records created in a given organization.
  • Organize all the records created in a given organization.
  • Provide adequate protection of the records against the agents of destruction
  • Make sure that records are appraised regularly
  • Registries are supposed to see proper coordination of record transfer
  • Records in registries should be surveyed to determine the research value.

 Types of registry systems

There are different types of registries that can be adopted by organization which includes;

  1. Centralized registry system
  2. Decentralized registry system
  3. Controlled registry system

Centralized registry system

It is where all records of an organization are kept. It’s where the whole organization keeps its records.

Advantages of centralized system

  • It saves on cost because there are fewer employees hence less expenses on salaries.
  • It’s economical on space because all records are kept under one roof.
  • There is uniformity in filling procedures of records. Records are organized well in registry making easy retrieval for users
  • Maximum supervision of records hence unauthorized people cannot have access to them
  • There is economy in use of registry resources ie everything acquired is put into use.
  • Greater flexibility in staff utilization ie you can easily cater for absentees without affecting the records
  • Elimination of work duplication ie there is no copying.


  • The retrieval service can be poor in centralized system. This imply that one will take more time to retrieve records
  • Inadequate Space. The records might be more due to rapid record growth hence insufficient space for storage.
  • The staff may not be familiar with all records that are stored there because the record is too many. Most of records in archives are not used frequently so the staff may not know the record existence
  • Tear and wear of records which are caused by congestion of records.

Decentralized/ departmental registries

Each department keeps its records. There is no sharing in decentralized situation.

Advantages of decentralized registries

  1. Faster retrieval because there is no distance covered. Each department keeps its own records
  2. Record security. This result to unauthorized accessibility to records
  3. Staff members are able to know their records better and therefore give efficient service
  4. Minimal misplacement/ loss of records. There is little misplacement of records because the records are few in each department
  5. There is little space problem in decentralized registry because each department keeps its own records
  6. Staff promotion is faster in a decentralized situation the staffs are fewer in each department.


  1. There is uneconomical utilization of registry resources eg stationery, equipment, staff etc
  2. Lack of uniformity in filling system in the organization. Each department uses its own way of filling its records
  3. Inadequate supervision of records. Supervision of records is not done since the supervisor has to keep rotating in each department.
  4. There could be records which are shared by the departments which result in time wastage when retrieving them.
  5. There is work duplication in record creation without central control of records. This is because each department will require its own copy of all matters arising in the organization.

Controlled decentralized registry

In this type the managers of the department ensure that circulation, staffing, security and equipment are efficient and economized.

To choose any of these registry systems there are certain factors that should be considered which includes;

Size of the organization

If the organization has few departments then records can be accommodated in a centralized registry because they are easy to maintain

Volume of records

If the organization produce many records than it is required it is likely they will affect the efficiency of the registry.

Space availability

To establish a centralized registry you need to a big space to take care of records at present and in the future.

Quantity of staff

Decentralized requires more staff than centralized registry. This is because decentralized registry has many departments

Speed of service required

Handling time which is between the question and the answer ie the time when the record is asked for and retrieval time. Therefore clients should be served in a quick manner.


Types of records found in registries

There are various types of records found in registries and the record manager is supposed to identify all and appraise all of them accordingly.

These records are collectively called;

Public records

They are called so because they are created by public organization. The categories of public records include;

  1. Policy records
  2. Operational records
  3. House keeping records

Policy records

These are records that contain information about the organization itself under the following areas;

  • Formulation/ creation of the company
  • The structure of the organization
  • Objectives of the organization and activities it is supposed to carry out

Examples of policy records

  • Title deed or leasehold
  • A copy of the act of parliament under which the organization was formed
  • Memorandum of association
  • Articles of association

Importance of policy records

  1. They serve as evidence of organization’s legal existence
  2. During appraisal these records are left intact ie they remain permanent in the organization during appraisal serving as reference whenever need arises

Operational/ functional records

These are records that are produced during the day to day activities of an organization

Importance of operational records is that they serve as evidence of the activities that are carried out in the organization eg admission list, finance records etc

During appraisal most of the functional records are retained about 75 %. 25 % are transferred to archives or destroyed since their usefulness to the organization has ceased.

House keeping records

These are records created in the organization on day today basis. They support document that serve as evidence of a short term activity but nevertheless relevant in this organization. Eg petty cash that purchases little things which are not important

During appraisal 75% of house keeping records or more impact are destroyed. The 25% that are preserved could be on financial issues.


Stage 1-current stage/ active

  • The records are called current or active because;
  • The rate of use is high
  • They are nearest to the user
  • Primary value ie they have value for which they were created for
  • The accumulation rate is very high because they are asked for often
  • The type of storage equipment should be of secure type ie lockable

2ND Stage semi-current

This means that;

  • The rate of use is moderate because they are not as active as before.
  • They are kept in registries but not close to the user
  • Primary value ie they are used for the purpose they were created for
  • The rate of accumulation is moderate

Dominant / inactive stage

  • They are dead because;
  • The rate of use is nil ie they are never asked for
  • The storage place is far because they should not compete with active and semi-active
  • They have no primary value ie they are not used for the purpose they were created for

Dominant records may be useful to;

  1. Researchers
  2. Historians
  3. Legal purpose
  4. Escal purpose

Diagrammatic representation of life cycle of records inverted triangle

Why is the triangle inverted?

It is to represent different volumes of various records reducing downwards.

At the apex there is continuation pointing to different directions with different colors

One direction should be in archives for storage because the records have secondary value.

The other direction is destruction because they have neither primary nor secondary value.

Disposal methods

After the main appraisal at the apex point records are supposed to be disposed off. There are several methods that are used to dispose these records which include;

Transfer to archives/ record centers

Records with secondary or permanent value are transferred to archives. 10% goes to archives and 90% has to be disposed off using other methods depending on their content.

Other records may have some value which means they are confidential.

There are several methods to destroy confidential content which include the following;


This is a method of destruction that involves cutting records into small pieces and sell them to those buy waste paper.


This is a method of destroying records through burning them into ash.


It’s a method of destroying records using chemicals


It’s a process that reduces the size of records for the purpose of saving space

It’s usually called partial disposal of records

It’s used for only important records. Microfilm and microfiche are used for storing the records.

Reasons for microfilming

Saving of space in the registry

Increasing durability of records

Security ie records cannot be easily accessed by intruders because one uses microfilm reader to access the records

Microfilm preserves the original records

Flexibility.  Microfilms can be easily transferred from one place to another.

Disadvantages of microfilming

Costly. To purchase the microfilm reader is relatively costly

It requires a machine to be able to access the records

They require special skills to access the information

It requires trained staff and users

They are strainous to access ie physical strain


Mail management involves processing two kinds of mail ie incoming and outgoing mail in every organization

Processing incoming mail involves the following;

  1. Collecting the mail from post office once or twice depending on how busy the organization is.
  2. Sorting the mail ie separating the official and unofficial mails by opening the official or unofficial letter and then remove the content
  3. Registering the incoming ie enter the details of incoming mail and register it so as to create a record of incoming official letters
  4. Stamping activity ie putting a date impression on the letter ie received date, department, ownership
  5. Indexing the letters so as to show where they belong eg subject, application, payment orders etc
  6. Coding
  7. Sorting according to subject matter due to filling
  8. Filling correspondence with the most recent on the top so it may be retrieved easily
  9. Taking the file to the officer for action ie reading it and reply it as soon as possible

Outgoing mail procedure

  • Collecting correspondence from various departments in the organization
  • Inspection of correspondence. Checking the letters so as to know the completeness ie all parts of official letter included ie senders address, receivers address, salutation, body etc
  • Folding stage. Here you consider paper size whether is A4, A3, A2
  • Type of the document. If it’s a certificate it should not be folded
  • Type of envelope ie window or normal envelope
  • Sealing
  • Stamping stage. Things considered during stamping stage include weight, distance etc. this is because the postage differ
  • Franking machine puts stamp impression which indicates the cost on the letter
  • Outgoing mail register is used to record the details of the letter.


File is a carrier of related information which is systematically arranged according to date with the mostly recent on top.

Main activities in the file management

File creation

File organization

File movement

  1. File creation                                                                                                                                                                                           

Refers to making decisions in relation to what qualifies to be kept in files for future reference.

This is the process of receiving and filling letters.

Skills of file manager

He needs to have knowledge in filling procedure

He should have an understanding of objectives of the organization

He should have accumulated some experience in file creation

  1. File organization

It follows after the file creation.

Organization is a reference to creating order within and among the files in the registry.

Other activities carried out in the file organization include;

Inspection with intention of checking the content of the letter to establish its relevance

Indexing ie determining the number under which the record will be filled

Coding ie making the record with name or number decided on at indexing levels

Sorting. This is arranging the records in some order for the purpose of filling

Organization. This is putting the letters in a useable order that will help easy storage and retrieval.

Methods of file organization

  1. Alphabetical system
  2. Chronological filing system
  3. Geographical filing system
  4. Numerical filing system
  5. Subject filling system

Factors to consider before deciding in classification filing system

Simplicity. The easier the system the fewer the mistakes the staff will make

Type of records involved and type of business organization you are working with

Space ie the available space for storage

Users ie what are users requirements and entry behavior

Anticipated growth ie is it a fast or slower growing organization?

Alphabetical filing system

It’s a method based on the 26 letters of English alphabet. It ranges from A-Z.

This system is the simplest and its also the mostly widely used.

It is based on familiar things because it is exposed to everyone.

However for the system to be standardized in use there are certain rules that should be applied by all filling organization. The rules include;

Initial article rule

This is a rule used whenever alphabetical filling is used. Initial means beginning or fast.

Article means it’s a reference to a group of words. In the English language alphabet include; A, the and an.

The article at the beginning should not be considered in filling system, you move at the second word.

Numerical rule

This means if there are any numerals in the names and filling rewrite them in words.

Hyphen rule

This is a punctuation mark that is used to separate 2 compound words. All punctuation marks are not considered in filling system.


This is Use of initial letters that make up a name eg MIT, KCSE, UNESCO etc

Prefix rule

They are words that come before the actual name eg unfriendly here friend is the actual word

If there is a prefix accompanying the name it moves with the sir name eg  Arap  Moi Daniel.

Prefix should accompany sir name.

Advantages of alphabetical filing

  1. It’s a direct access system ie the user retrieve the record direct to the shelves with ease and therefore quicker method of retrieval.
  2. Its expandable ie new entries can be inserted in the list without any problem
  3. It’s the mostly widely used. This is because many organizations prefer it when filling their records.
  4. Handling time is short because it is a direct access


  1. It become complex with time and therefore difficulty to work with as the organization grows
  2. Mistakes are likely ie errors of retrieval becomes many with time
  3. Rules are not easy understood thus making people fail to follow them thus misfiling can occur due to the misunderstanding
  4. This system can lead to uneconomical use of space because some letters of the alphabet have few entries eg Q, X, Y and Z

Numerical system

This makes use of numerals or numbers.

It has several sub-systems and they include; alpha-system and chronological system

This method is indirect filing system where an index is required before retrieval can be done.

In a purely numeric system subject entries are given numbers consecutively ie one after the other and then a list is prepared indicating the number and subject allocation.

chronological system

The figures used relate to dates.

Advantages of numeric filling system

Its expandable ie there is no limit to the number given

It’s a secure method of filling ie it’s not easy to steal files


It offers a slow retrieval method because its indirect access method

The numbers themselves can be too long to remember or to work with

The numbers can be transposed ie changing the order of numbers thus ending with wrong numbers

Subject filling system

It’s a system based on the subject matter covering the record filled alphabetically.

One determines subject matter of records by listing them and them arranging them alphabetically. Under each subject area you have the subject matter covered

To determine subject names the following should be observed


The subject name chosen should be as short as possible


One should give the best and correct name for the subject.

There are two ways of doing subject filling. The subject can be arranged on Purely alphabetical bases that involves;

  • Dictionary arrangement
  • Encyclopedic method

In these methods related subjects are combined and one subject name is chosen to stand for them eg telephone, email, telex, letter writing etc.

These are related subjects areas and one word for them is communication. This is done to avoid subject scattering.

Dictionary arranges subject alphabetically thus scattering related subjects.

Encyclopedia brings related subjects together.

Advantages of subject filling system

Brings related subjects together ie no subject scattering as happen with alphabetical filing

It’s easier in organization since they deal with subjects rather than people.


It has impersonal kind of approach ie it’s more concerned with subject rather than people.

Geographical filing system

This is where documents are filed according to their sources ie where they come from

It’s suitable for organizations which deal with different regions.

The filling arrangement starts with the largest geographical area which consist of ;

The primary guide

The secondary guide

Tertiary guide

Individual name

For example in Kenya we have;

Advantages of geographical filing

  1. It allows for fast retrieval of information ie has a direct access and files are shared out
  2. It’s easy to control the information because one knows how to indicate information as per geographical regions


  1. It’s easy to confuse geographical names and this usually happen when the name change regularly
  2. Wrong name spelling can cause problem filling system
  3. Time is being wasted when deciding which province district and county the person come from

File movement   

This is a process that determines the way the stored information will be given out to the officers in question and how the same file will be received back after it has been used so that the next client can borrow it next time

It’s also referred to as a charging out and receiving them when are needed

Importance of file procedure     

Lays in the fact that the file is created for the use in the organization so the stored files will continue to be asked for as long as they are in their active and semi-active status

It’s importance therefore for the registry management to know where a particular file it is kept at any given time

There are various procedures of information the registry manager requires to be able to do the above effectively

Charging out a file/ charging out system

To charge is to lent a file for use in organization

There should be a charge out procedure in the registry to be used whenever a file is needed.

The content of a charge out sheet contains the following information.

  • The name and subject of the file
  • The borrower’s name
  • The department name
  • Date of borrowing
  • Return date
  • Signature of the borrower
  • Remarks

After the file has been borrowed the registry clerk should put the borrower’s card in place of the file.

Once the file is returned the information on the charge out sheet is now useless ie is cancelled out

Charge out sub-system

A borrowed file may be required by another officer while it’s still in the hands of the previous officer

This can be facilitated through the use of a transit slip

Transit slip is a tracer sheet filled for the purpose of ensuring that the file does not get lost in between.

It enables a registry manager to know who is the current borrower of the file is

The transit slip is taken to the registry to update the old charge out sheet

Charge out system is a system within a system. Charge out helps during follows up ie sending a message to the borrower to remind him the file is due.

Dangers of having a faulty charge out system in the organization

If files are not properly charged out they can be lost within the organization and that seriously affect the running of the organization

To avoid the loss of files the registry manager should ensure the following rules are followed;

Charge out sheet should be filled fully every time a file is borrowed

Officers should not send massagers to collect files in the registry unless the massager comes with a requisition sheet fully filled and signed by the officer.

No files should change hands and root before it reaches at the right place. In case of agency a transit sheet should be filled if a file has to change hands on the way.

The time allowed for the file should not exceeded

The file should not be torn while in the custody of the officer until it is returned in the registry


Security of records means the records in the custody of manager are protected against all the destructive elements that can threaten their survival.

There are four categories of hazards that the manager should protect his records from;


Human related hazards

Environmental hazards

Biological hazards

Natural hazards

These are also known as acts of God. Examples include; floods, earth quake, lightening, fire etc

Flooding preventive measures   

Making sure that the registry is structured in a way that floods should not affect

The registry should not be built on a low laying ground

The roof should not be flat because flat roofs tent to hold water

There should be no water taps passing through or near the records

Earth quakes

The registry should have strong foundation

Lightning                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Put some fittings inform of lightening arresters

Fire as a result of lightning

Install firefighting equipment ie fire extinguisher

  1. Human related hazards


This is a deliberate act of destroying records eg tearing into pieces


Ensure that there is enough security inside or outside the registry.

Ensure that all openings are bankrupt roof.

Theft of records

A file just disappears or get lost when it is outside the registry circulation

Prevention of theft

  • Install security machines that can check the users as they exit the archives or record center
  • User education ie inform the users that records are well used when they are centralized
  • Seal all the entrances
  • Use of penalties
  • Reporting all acts of theft into the administration
  • Create a procedure for lending out files


The records cannot be traced so they are lost


If there is a lot of misplacement re- accesses the methods of organization to find out whether the users do not understand what is supposed to be done. You may change the procedure into a simpler method

Motivate workers to enhance them to concentrate in work


This refer to unintentional interference with the content of a record by tearing


Pouring substances eg ink so that the content cannot be read any more

Business espionage

Stealing records to use them for a purpose

Prevention measures

  • Only authorized persons get access to the records
  • Tighten your rules about file circulation eg saying that nobody should stay for two days with a file
  • Bankrupt roofing can also help


Certain living things can destroy your materials eg insects, rodents, fungus, bacterial etc


Termites for instance can destroy your information materials completely


  • You should not build registry in a termite invested area by looking whether the area has colons
  • Digging all the termites and destroy their source especially the queen
  • Use insecticides to spray the surrounding of the registry


They are mice and rats and can destroy your materials very easily


Clear the bush around the area to prevent their breeding ground

Ensure that all openings are wire meshed

Use poison to poison the rats

Make sure that food bits are not left on the floor ie people should observe high standard of cleanliness in the registry

Inspection in the registry should be done regularly

Natural hazard/physical hazard/ acts of God

They include;






Fire prevention

There should be fire drills

Alarm systems

Suppressors ie prevent an electrical machine from causing fire

Bombs prevention

Ensure registry is purpose build to fulfill certain requirements and explosions

Human related activities can be avoided if the following measures are taken

Separating confidential records from ordinary records by keeping them in a room which is locked every time and managed by record managers

The record management should recruit carefully its staff

Controlling access to specified records

Careful control and recording of file movement

Limiting the removal of records and period on retention of individual files

Authorizing photocopy of records hence creating a back up storage

Store records in lockable store cabinets

Using proper destruction methods eg burning, shred


This is caused by rain water.

It can be prevented by proper sitting of the record center or archive


It’s caused by rain

It can be prevented by fitting the building with lightning arresters


Temperature ie coolness or hotness

High temperatures are destructive to records and are supposed to be controlled. This is by air conditioning the environment


This is amount of water in a given amount of air. When humidity combines with heat it is very dangerous because it encourages rapid increase in fungi, moulds and insects

Rodents also like humid and warm environment

How to prevent humidity  

Proper ventilation

Floor should never be dump. Use dump proof walls and floors

Install dehumidifiers machine that absorb moisture in the atmosphere


  • Protect records against direct sunlight
  • Use tinted glasses
  • Use of curtains made of cloth which is poor conductor of heat
  • Make sure that windows do not face either east or west


It settles on records thus attracting moisture.

It should be prevented by;

  • Use of vacuum cleaner to suck up dust
  • Use of blower to dust the records


Termite destroy documents in a registry


  • Destroy termite colony
  • Seal all possible inlets
  • Treat their wooden parts with repellents
  • Floor should have a bark concrete around the registry
  • Raise the building above the ground on pillars and fit anti-termite metal fringes
  • Spray building with anti-termite chemicals

Chemical pollutants

Use fitters-air on all openings

Coat iron sheets with neutralizers


This is investigation and evaluation of several things in relation to records so as to know whether the kind of records created is relevant to an organization

The investigation is to find out the storage facilities for records

It also done to find out classification and filing method

The survey investigates appraisal and disposal activities

To know the quantity and quality of staff

Types of record survey

Record management survey

This is a type of a survey that is conducted by record managers in order to identify all the records of an organization

It is basically aimed at the active record storage as well as inactive record storage. The surveyor has administration responsibility and authority over these records

Such a survey results in the creation of record retention schedules which lists all the records of an organization and assign retention periods and storage location for each

Such document becomes the approved plan for the maintenance of organization records

Archival survey

It is carried out by an archivist and it deals with records for which the surveyor has administrative responsibility and authority

It aims to separate archival records from non-archival records quickly and fast eg when an archivist is called upon by an organization doing some renovations and would want the archivist to assess the value of records before their disposition

In such circumstances an archivist must collect historically valuable records quickly and hence have no time to prepare detailed retention schedules in the brief time allocated

Multi repository survey

Deals with materials in more than one archival institution. It involves surveying records of an organization which the surveyor does not have administrative control

The survey is intended to identify materials listed in some way eg subject, geographical location etc

Such surveys are funded with outside grants and result in a published guide to aid researchers

Non-repository survey

Directed to records outside the archival repository. Usually conducted to achieve one or more of the following objectives;

  • Make creators and custodians of records more aware of historical value of materials
  • Improve access to materials not in archives
  • Identify records for possible acquisition by the surveying institutions

Stages of survey

  1. The enquiry stage

The surveyors ask for information by writing to a certain public office eg ministry of education, agriculture informing them whether they would like to go out there and carry out a survey

The words that are used differ eg we wish to come and have a survey on your records

It can be called a notification stage.

The organization can also request for expert to come and see whether they are doing the right thing.

  1. Preparation stage

This is to ensure that the survey is done well. The surveyors should consider the following in preparation stage;

Duration-how long they will take in pre-survey visit

Size of the organization-how big is the organization in terms of departments

Distance-how far is the organization

Financies-ie money for transport, food, stationery, accommodation etc

Trained staff-how ready is the staff in a position to carry out the survey

Attitude– the surveyors must have a positive attitude when carrying out the survey. The surveyors must be patient and social.

  1. Preparation of the necessary tools

Preparation of questionnaires –ie a list of questions to ask the interviewers. These are tools for collecting data

Interview schedule-this indicates who will you interview and when

Work schedule-kind of timetable showing what will be done, when and by who

Letter of authority-it a permission letter to carry the survey and is obtained from the ministry

Survey activities

Are activities related to obtaining the necessary information. The activities involve the following;

Arrival ie creating the right atmosphere for doing survey by holding a meeting with the administration and then staff

The purpose of this meeting is to create the right atmosphere to do the exercise and remove the fear

Collecting the data. This depend on how big the organization is

  • Data analysis interpretation in order to come up with the right conclusion so as to write a report

Writing a report should not take a long time because feedback is needed so that the organization should correct itself in managing the records

The report should be produced in 3 copies because there are three people who are concerned with reports;

  • Surveyors
  • Record managers
  • Ministry in question

The original copy goes to record manager because its regarded the right answer concerning record management

  1. Implementation stage

This is what should be done concerning the recommendation ie solutions to the problems in the record management

  1. Follow up stage

Finding out the recommendations been implemented

Problems encountered when carrying out record survey exercise

Financial problems- insufficient funds to train staff, buy stationery, transport and money to cater for accommodation

Staff might be un-cooperative in that they may not give the required information to the surveyors

Ignorance-whereby people lack information on what is to be surveyed

Time limit-time is never enough and is under estimated during survey

Communication break-down-Information officer come across distorted information which affects understanding in the survey process.

Purpose of record survey

To aid researchers

This goal is a natural extension of the archivist mission of identifying, preserving and making available for research records of enduring value

Survey helps researchers to carry out their activities in an effective manner thus saving their time

Foster administrative efficiency

This is particularly applicable to a records management survey because fostering economy and efficiency are basic goals of any record management program

A record manager tries to reduce the use of expensive office space and equipment

Administration efficiency also benefits an archivist who is able to easily identify and transfer archival records therefore making the survey an important first step towards improving the efficiency of administration

Promote preservation of archival materials

The immediate result of many surveys is the transfer of valuable materials to better storage condition

If a survey report is combined with reasonable suggestions for action it is possible to promote the preservation of archival records

Improve planning for archival program

A survey is used as a planning tool. A survey will give an accurate picture of existing records and storage condition that will help in planning for archival program

Educate and train

This is an important part of any survey. The participants, surveyors and administrators are all educated and trained as the survey is carried out


Record appraisal is a process of determining the value of records so that those still have value can be permanently preserved and those that don’t have any value are destroyed after a specific period

The value in question is secondary value ie value that record has to users outside the organization

Before this time records are supposed to have primary value which is the value it was created for.

Importance of appraising records

To determine the usefulness of the records in order to know the records which should be preserved and disposed?

To create space for new records that is being created

To enhance efficiency in retrieval ie promote speed and accuracy during record retrieval

To make the office tidy and neat

To avoid congestion in the registry. This brings tear and wear of records

The appraisal criteria

The appraisal should start with analyzing to understand the activities and objectives of the creating agency

This is done so that we can determine which records have the following value;

Administrative value

Legal value

Financial value

General information value

Evidential value

Approach to record appraisal

Going through the history of the organization so that one can access the records

An appraisal schedule which is called retention and disposal schedule must be created in order to identify a particular record group and also indicate when the record was created

Using report stage the appraisers create a report concerning their finding to the head of the institution. The records that have no value should be destroyed immediately and those containing secondary value should be taken to the archives

Problems faced by appraisers

Badly arranged files ie files that are not systematically arranged according to the law of provenance and originality. This aspect poses a challenge to users while retrieving the record

Missing file covers where appraisers waste time trying to know the file name

State condition of the records ie dormant records which are poorly stored might be torn and stinking

Lack of trained and qualified appraisers ie appraisers who don’t have skills and positive attitude towards appraisal of records

Financial problem which should cater for accommodation of appraisers, transport cost, stationery etc


This an activity that involves taking action on the records after appraisal

There various methods of disposal as indicate below;

  1. Partial disposal
  2. Total disposal

Partial disposal

This a process of reducing the storage requirement for certain records ie changing the form of records from paper form to microfilm state

Total disposal

Getting rid of records completely ie either destroying the records or transferring them to archives or an intermediate centre

A disposal schedule should come in so that one can list all the records disposed off, indicating quantity, method of disposal, the person in charge of that exercise, witness and a signature form.

Reasons for disposal

  • Facilitate preservation of the history of record in National Archive
  • Facilitate the destruction of records that are not useful to the creator and others
  • Minimize the cost of filing and storage

Appraisal tools contain the following;

  • Type of records
  • When was it created?
  • Date of last appraisal
  • Date of current appraisal
  • Results and remarks


Record centre is an information system that provides low cost and high density storage for in-active and semi-active records in an organization

Semi-active records are those that are rarely used but must be retained for occasional reference and therefore must be stored in less costly office space

Record centre is also a place where records are stored for short time as they await review so as to proceed to archives or to be destroyed

Objectives in creating an operating record centre are;

Achieve economy and efficiency in storage, retrieval and disposition

To provide security of records against unauthorized access as well as to secure records against destruction

To protect stored records against the risk of natural disaster eg fire flood, earthquake

Factors that determine characteristics of a record centre

  1. Cost of storage in the department in terms of floor, space, equipment, personnel and stationery
  2. Availability of space in the department
  3. Frequency of use
  4. Security of records

The following are considered in establishing a record center

  • What is to be stored
  • Storage facilities
  • Reference services
  • Location

Types of record centers

  1. Company owned record center
  2. Public record center
  3. Commercial record center

Company owned record center-on site

Purpose of creating company owned record center include;

  1. To reduce the amount of equipment needed to store records in offices
  2. To reduce amount of records held in high cost rent office space
  3. To have an effective storage and retrieval system
  4. To set up a comprehensive record transfer and storage program with destruction schedules


  1. Convenience of location in terms of accessing and retrieval
  2. Security of records is guaranteed
  3. Records are controlled and maintained by their own employees
  4. Cost of record transportation is minimized
  5. Proper lighting and ventilation are provided

Public record center

They are centers that house records from government ministries, departments and other public establishments eg schools, hospitals, law courts, parliament, churches etc

The materials are referenced by government officers, creating agencies or researchers with special permission

Records are kept here as they await transfer to archival institution.

In Kenya we have 5 record centers

Nairobi record center- it serves Nairobi, central Eastern and North Eastern.

Mombasa record center- serves Voi

Kakamega record center-serves western

Kisumu record center-serves Nyanza

Nakuru record center-serves Rift valley

Commercial record center

They are purely established for business purposes and they provide variety of specialized services

These services include;

24 hours security services

Duplicating services


Facsimile transmissions

An organization may wish to use the services of a commercial record center for many reasons;

  1. Secured protection of information
  2. Controlled but easy access to its information
  3. Specialized additional services available
  4. More staff time is available
  5. Enable organization to accomplish other objectives
  6. Organization may have few records to justify operating its own record center
  • If company finds its important to store records a few kilometers away as a measure of disaster planning
  • Realistic costs of in-active records
  1. Cost control opportunities

Physical layout of a record center

The layout consist of 2 major areas ie

Stack areas-are primarily all other areas where records are stored

Non-stack areas-are primarily all other areas where records are not stored. These are areas primarily administrative and processing areas designed to facilitate the efficient and economical storage of in-active records

Non-stack areas may include

Administrative areas

This space enables personnel to perform tasks required of them. Office to be equipped appropriately with computers, desks etc

Receiving/processing areas

Provides temporary storage for records as they are received in the record center. The area should be suited near the loading desk

It may also act as a processing room where records are accounted for and assigned a permanent address for placement in the staff area

Staging area

It must be adjacent to receiving area. It act as intermediate storage area where boxes are stored after being processed

Reference area

Provides users with a mini library with tables, chairs, copiers, microfilm, printers and readers for viewing the records

Destruction/Disposition area

It’s where records which have reached the end of their lifecycle according to the retention schedule as kept

If the destruction is in-house a shredder and bailer may be situated in the area

General function of a record center

  • Provide adequate security of organizations in-active records against vandalism/ unauthorized access
  • Provide plenty of cheap storage space and equipment for an organization’s in-active records
  • Provide adequate protection of records against agents of destruction
  • Provide quick reference to creating agency
  • Destroy valueless records in conjunction with the creating agency
  • Prepare disposition schedules
  • Transfer records to archives or arrange for their transfer
  • Organize for transfer of semi active records
  • Offer advisory services to creating agencies in record management
  • Acts as an intermediary between creating agencies and archival agencies

Record center operation

Involved in shelving of records

Processing of records ie sorting, listing, boxing, labeling, accessioning

Secures authority for disposal

Selection of semi-active records

Main types of record centers

In-house record center-are centers within the organization which are used for storing non-current records usually in the basements of the houses

Offsite record centers-are record centers located away from the organization. It should be at a convenient accessible and owned by an organization or commercial owners.

Advantages of in-house

More economical in terms of renting and building another record center

Distance-it is in a convenient location for the record creators in case there is need to consult these records

Accessibility-it is easily accessible in terms of short distance

Security of records is assured

Maximum control over the records since the owner is taking care of them

Self dependent and this aspect brings about pride to the organization


There is a tendency of the organization of ignoring dormant records while concentrating on current records .This may lead to the destruction of records even those with secondary value

In case of fire breakout the records of the organization would be destroyed

Advantages of offsite center

If owned by the organization the records are more comfortably accommodated

It’s a cheaper way of storing these records when considering the overhead expenses

The registry staff has time to concentrate on normal record movement. Their concentration is not divided between the registry and the record center

Care taken by record managers before they transfer records

The level of their professionalism of the people in the record center

Find out the extent to which they abide with the requirements of the record owners

Check on the accessibility of the area and means of transport to use

Efficiency and economy should be considered and cost of services

Record transfer to the record center

Record transfer is physical movement of records from the creating offices to record centers

It also refers to movement of records from a high cost office to a low cost place. This can happen anytime depending on the need for the space especially after a survey is done

Some specific transfer methods should be a systematic way of transferring records


Decode which records should be transferred and which ones should not through conducting a record survey

Record survey is the look into the records and decides which ones to remain and the ones to go.

After the survey the record manager will provide each department with a retention/ disposal schedule giving the information of the retention period of each record. This will accompany the records to the record centers

Each departmental head will receive standardized card board boxes. These are recommended boxes for transferring records to the record center

The records are put in the boxes. Each box should be labeled carefully to show what type of files is in each box

There is also a transfer from prepared by each department in the organization to serve as a record of what has been transferred

On the labels there should be an indication of which records are from which department and their retention periods

The transfer form contains the following details;

Date of transfer

Name of the record officer

The type of records

Number of files leaving the department and converting dates

Box numbers

Action column which is left unfilled to be filled after appraisal

The record center should be conducted for specific transfer instructions before taking the records there

The records should officially handed over to the record center personnel i.e. signing of the transfer form/ list by the record center personnel in duplicate accepting the records

After the records have been received the record center personnel computes the storage control card. This card indicates the location of storage and instructions on retrieval

Review of records has to be done from time to determine which records should be disposed off from the record center.

Functions of intermediate records center

  • Receiving dormant record from various registry
  • Processing and storing dormant records
  • Preservation of dormant records ie protecting from all things which could cause damage
  • Appraise dormant records as per legal requirements
  • They transfer the records which have archival value
  • They have administrative work which show how records should be surveyed

Contribution done by record management

Creation of space in the registry

They provide good storage for dormant records to protect them from deterioration to prevent loss of records

Help in appraisal for the records which have archival value and they take it to archives

They carry out quick retrieval of records since record managers save time while retrieving the records

They keep the staff happy since their morale is enhanced when they are working in a conducive climate in terms of cleanliness

Reduce tear and wear since records are filled well in the registry thus reducing congestion of records

It reduces cost of maintenance of records because there are fewer records to store

Record transfer to record center

This is physical movement of records from the office of creation to the record center on their onward journey to the archives

It’s a continuous process in the record management which takes place every time there are dormant records in the registry

The transfer is necessarily to create space for the new records. The transfer should follow a certain procedure so that all the details necessarily can be recorded

It starts with information from the manager to the heads of department informing them of the expected transfer. The HOD are consequently expected to identify records that need to be transferred from their respective departments

It requires them to do a final appraisal of dormant records they have to arrive at quantity which is required

The record manager should provide necessary transfer equipment which include;

Standard size cartoon/ boxes

The boxes should be acid free. The records are packed neatly in the various boxes making sure there is enough space between them ie horizontally one on top of the other

Each box is then labeled with information about its content

The records are packed neatly in the various boxes making sure there is enough space between them ie horizontally one on top of other

Each box is then labeled with information about its content. The box label contains;

Name of the department

Type of records

Covering dates

Earliest and latest records

Record transfer list

This is a document prepared by an organization to indicate the number of records to be transferred. It’s normally in triplicate ie

Original copy which goes to the record center

1st copy accompany records to the record center

2nd copy remains in the registry

Information found in the transfer list includes;

  1. The name of transferring officer
  2. The quantity in terms of how many boxes have been sent
  • The name of the officer transferring the records
  1. The name of the receiving officer
  2. Date when records were received ie earliest and latest records
  3. Brief description of record list transferred
  • Classification/filling system used in these records

1st copy is returned to the registry to inform the registry where their records are stored

The necessary arrangements before transferring records from registry to a record center is to chose the most appropriate record center and notify the record center staff concerning the record transfer.

The officer who receives the records should sign in appropriate space in the transfer list.

The records at this point belong to the record center. Processing and storing ie storing the records where they are supposed to be kept

The 1st copy will be sent to the creating agency and the original will remain in the record center


Historical development of archives in Kenya

It’s a short history compared to the world especially in West Africa. There are two main reasons why they started late;

Africans are by nature oral communicators ie speak face by face rather than writing

There were no education ie lack of literacy

Missionaries brought literacy in 1844 trough Ludwig Kraft. In 1895 is when the 1st records were kept

Due to predominant Culture or lack of culture the records were not well managed and there were several attempts. The government kept sending circulars to public offices to apply proper record management.

The 1st circular was sent in 1910. This circular was from the governor of Kenya called Percy Girourd and said that there was need for proper record keeping and preservation

The circular was not implemented because war soon broke out in 1914-1918

The next circular was not implemented until 1929 and it was a reminder that was said before ie public records should be protected against ravages of climate and other insecurities

Although there was no war to destruct this circular money was still a problem and there was no skilled manpower

In 1930 the information that came out was to destroy all dormant records. The officer didn’t implement this because he ignored and gave reasons

In  1936 the circular came with instructions of appraisal and because there were no trained personnel for appraisal the records were sent in Britain for appraisal. This continued up to 1963.

It was a useful dispatch because it provided a way of Kenya records although it was the beginning of migrated record saga

In 1939 the records which were left were burnt due to break out of fire in public offices at Jogoo house

In the same year the Second World War broke out until 1945. Up to 1948 no archival related development had been done

In 1952n a committee was appointed that did something notable called Grigg in Britain to advice British government on the way forward in relation to record management.

The recommendation of this committee came out in 1954 and was as follows;

  1. Finances be provided for the purpose for improving record keeping practices in Kenya
  2. Proper archival legislation to govern the way forth ie a law be enacted to govern archival record management

Some type of archive services was started in Kenya when appraise for dormant records was set aside in the old Jogoo house basement

An archivist was identified to work there and was given the responsibility of; appraising the records, retrieve and process the records

People kept bringing their records but the archivist could not go far because of junk problem ie records were mixed up hence difficult in maintaining them. He did very little organizing

Within one year (1957) the archivist was sacked by the government due to lack of funds to pay his salary

His place was taken by a reference librarian and quoted the issue of finance as the reason until the the country became independent in 1963

Between 1960-1963 all useful records were migrated to Britain which had negative development of archive

The new government after independence recognized the need for establishment of a National Archive

In 1965 further legislation was done. They came up with 2nd circular. The same year proper archival legislation was done outlining in details the functions of an archival service

The law was called public archives act number 32 of 1965. The main function of archive department according to this law was to preserve and care for all public records taken to the National Archive

The government went on to provide;

  1. Necessary finances to recruit and train staff
  2. Came up with programs and plans for a new archive
  3. Made plans to retrieve all the records that had been taken away by colonial government ie migrated archive project

The migrated archive project is still on ie the government is still claiming its records from Britain

Record centers were also established in provincial areas called provincial record centers

These centers were made to collect records from public office in the provinces, appraise and transfer them to the National archives that had been established

By 1990 we had fully established archives in Kenya

Problems faced development of archives in Kenya

Colonial government attitude towards Africans libraries

  • Lack of trained staff
  • Lack of necessary funds
  • There was no space to store dormant records
  • Ignorance of those involved ie British government
  • The junk problem ie mixed up records

Kenya National Archive Building

It was established between Tom Mboya Street and Moi Avenue near hill tone hotel

It has 3 main divisions;

Record management division

This carries out the following;

  • They establish the nature and extend of quantity of records created in the offices
  • Advising record managers on the best way to manage their records
  • Provide advisory services to government officers and any other interested organization, registry operations, file classification, record maintenance etc

Archive administration division

It performs various functions in the archive as outlined below;

  • Accessioning/ receiving archives
  • Processing archives
  • Storing and disseminating archives
  • Reclaiming records which were taken by Britain

Technical service division

  • It conserves and preserves records
  • They deal with records which are torn

Duties of chief archivist

  • Examine all public records in order to advise the record managers on how the records should be handled
  • Control access of records ie he ensures that closed access is used in archival records
  • Market the information and services they offer to the public ie prepare publications and distribute them to schools, institutions or use media to publicize through TV, Radio
  • Reservation of records ie films and other housing equipment which require special care
  • Providing necessary retrieval tools eg indexes, calendars and guides so that public can identify what they require with ease
  • He leads any public archive material for display during special events like public holiday
  • Taking steps to acquire and have returned to Kenya any public records which have historical value which may have been exported before the commencement of the act
  • Approving any institution whether private or otherwise as a place where public archives may be preserved

Offences related to the National Archives

Section seven of Kenya constitution states that any person who willingly destroys, defaces, mutilates or damages any public archive he would have committed an offence

Any person who willingly destroys or disposes any public records without any permission of the director shall have committed an offence

Any person who exports any public records will be committing an offence unless he has been issued with the necessary license by the director

Any person who willing fully abstracts or disobeys any law of order given by the director shall have committed an offense.


Acquisition of archival materials refer to take possession of all historical public records from the various government offices by the archivist

The following are procedures and guidelines followed in the acquisition of these materials

Legal deposit method

It refer to receiving materials from government departments either in one copy or two for permanent preservation in archive and dissemination to users

Direct collection method

This is methods where by the archivist collects materials which has archival value from public offices and take them to archive


The archives receives money from government for acquiring materials from personnel eg Joseph Murumbi Collection which was acquired by Kenya National Archives


These are materials which have archival value received from people at a given time. The archivist examines such materials and approves their value before accepting them

Once accepted a form is filled called a gift deed to ensure that donation is not reclaimed by the former owner or his descendants

The gift is filled with the following details;

  • Dates
  • Description of gift in details
  • Signature of the donor
  • Signature of the recipient
  • Instruction on use if applicable

Loans from other institutions

Archives share documents ie a record can be borrowed in other archive


It is similar to a donation except it includes surrendering of all rights to the archives

Migrated archive

It’s a method of acquisition where by migrated records are reclaimed from a country eg Kenya reclaims the migrated records from Britain


  1. Accessioning

It’s a process of recording basic information about every record acquired in the National archive

This recording is done in accession register. The information recorded in the accession register is called the 1st level of control as far as archives are concerned.

It provides the physical and intellectual control of the archives such that the archivist is in a position to know the source of the records, dates it was acquired. Intellectual control refers to knowing the content of records received in archive.

The accession list should contain the following information;

  1. The date when the records were received and owned by the archive
  2. The type of records
  3. Quantity i.e. the how many records they are. This is done in cubical linear feet according to the number of boxes
  4. The formats of the record ie are they in book form or non book form (tapes, microforms, DVD)
  5. Place of origin ie provenance, origin or source
  6. Column of method of acquisition
  7. Coverage ie the earliest and latest records
  8. A brief explanation of the content
  9. Remarks column
  10. Signature


It’s a cleanup process which exposes records received in an archive to gaseous chemical components with a view of killing any micro organism that may have accompanied the records eg termites, cockroaches, fungal infections, rats etc

The process involves putting the records in a fumigation chamber over-night and later dried out. This makes them easier to work with


This is the process of physically organizing records in accordance with accepted archival principles ie original order and provenance

Original order involves arranging records without mixing them with others from other institutions

Principle of provenance involves arranging records according to their source

Importance of provenance

It’s done as a way of demonstrating respect to the creating agencies

It’s made to act as evidence of a given organization

Problems associated with provenance

Sometimes it’s not easy to tell where some records are from because the name may not appear clearly or the organization might have changed its name in course of the time

Records could have been mixed up during the time of transfer

Principle of original order

It refers to arranging the records following the order of arrangement practiced in the creating agency ie do not attempt to change the classification system that was used

Records in the archive should be arranged in the order in which they were in the creating agency

Problems associated with principle of original order

Sometimes there is no distasteful order ie archivists cannot tell the classification which was used

Another time it could be a mix up of several orders

Description of records

It’s a process of establishing intellectual control over the archival holdings through the preparation of finding aids

The first document used in description is called series description sheet. The purpose of this series description sheet is to record detailed description list of nature, collection and format of each record series

A record series is a collection of related records either by format, arrangement or content

A series description sheet will contain the following information including the above;

provenance of the series

It will record the name of organization, person or family who created the series. This information links this series with similar series from the same source

There should be also a series number. This is a particular number allocated to a group or related records to identify them from any other series

Series title

This is simply the name given to this group of records which reflects the type of records and their functions

If there is no assigned title the archivist should design one and indicate accordingly

Date range

It shows the earliest and latest date of material ie a date when an item was created

Series quantity

This takes the shape of recording the shelf space occupied by this series in meters

Physical characteristics of the series

This is a description of the nature of the series as;

they are hand written, typed or combination of both

They are bound volumes or not

They are in book form or non book form

Series arrangement

This is a reference of manner in which records are arranged. It could be;




If the classification system is not disenabled then the archivist cannot impose one and record it accordingly.

There should be access condition

Shelf list

It is included in series description list. It shows the content of each container of the list to indicate where the records are.

It helps in retrieval process

Shelves have numbers and under each shelf there is an indication of what contain in each shelf


Putting records in various archival boxes and labeling them with the content name

Files are put in a horizontal arrangement in the boxes making sure there is space among them to allow for air circulation so as to reduce friction which may result to heat hence affecting the records

Shelving the records

This is a process of putting labeled boxes into their respective places in the repository

Labels are stacked in each content of various boxes

When materials are placed on the shelf it should be numbered on the container and put on one corner of the shelf

Preparation of finding aids

Finding aids are descriptive media such as registers, inventories, guides and indexes

They to help identify and locate various archival materials

Finding aids establish physical and intellectual control over the holdings of archive and make it possible to retrieve particular records from the archive

The finding aids present this information and other additional information to help users locate the records they require

Examples of finding/ retrieval tools found in archives                                                                                                                          

  1. Guide

It’s the commonest type of finding aid in archives. It provides a summary of every record of archive with enough description to help in locating the records

There are several types of guides as shown below;

  1. Subject guide
  2. General guide
  3. Organizational guide
  4. Subject guide

It contains particulars of subjects. It lists the various topics in a subject area where they are located in archive

  1. General guide

It provides an over-view of whole archival holding. All subjects are listed in general guide

This is used to find out all general collection of subjects found in general guide

  1. Indexes

An index is a finding aid found in archive specifically in the repository area.

It contains the reference numbers of every record in the repository. The reference numbers are arranged in a systematic way to help in easy location of information

  1. Location registers

This is archival finding aid that shows the exact location of the record in the archives

The archives staff uses the location register to identify where specific record is located

  1. Shelf list

It gives the list of all the records in a given shelf in an archive

It is put on the side way of each shelf facing the pathway within the repository

  1. Inventory list

It’s a comprehensive list of all the record an archives owns

Each entry is accompanied by a brief description of the item and other locating information

  1. Calendars

It’s a guide in the archive that contains information about the various records in the archive including the dates that are significant in respect to each record

Calendar is a finding aid because rather than showing dates it gives the descriptions of the record


It’s a place set aside in archive for dissemination information. There are various services provided in search room which include following;

User registration

This an activity to register members who qualify for the services

In order to register members in search room they pay an annual fee which ranges from 100-200 ksh depending on the status of the user

There are 3 statuses as indicated

  1. Student researchers
  2. Kenyan citizens
  3. Non-Kenyans


It’s a service that is supposed to familiarize the new users of the services available in the archives, how to access them and the expected conducts ie exposure to rules and regulations governing the users

Information dissemination

This is the main function of an archive. The methods used are open and closed access

Open access

Users can access the information materials direct to where they are located

This method is mostly practiced in library

Closed access

It is indirect because the user applies for the service he/she wants. He fills in the requisition sheet by filling in descriptive information materials, personal identification information and location

After this he hands in the requisition sheet to the staff so that the information material can be retrieved

Closed access is mostly practiced in archives

Security of information materials

It involves how information materials are used

The security personnel sit in a strategic place in the archives to observe how readers are utilizing the information materials

The security discourage users from mutilating, deface and folding of archival materials in order to prolong their life span.

The security also ensure that people are not noisy so that they do not disrupt peace in the archive

User Accommodation

This deals with user comfort in the archive. The users require comfortable chairs, tables and furniture for reading.

The users are provided with proper lighting, conducive environment with fresh air, and enough space for reading

Clean environment

The environment should be kept clean and swept using a vacuum cleaner to prevent dust from landing on the information materials

Audio visual services

They are multimedia where readers can access non-book materials eg computers, websites, microfilms and microfiche readers etc

Reserve services 

It’s a service where by information material is kept by supervisor until the next day if the reader had not finished using it.

Sections of a search room

Information desk

It’s where an old and new member registers their name when they enter in a search room

Induction section

It’s a place where people register themselves by paying some amount to be given the services

Supervisor desk

It’s where security guard stays to ensure order in the archive. For instance he/she ensures no one mutilate information materials in search room

Audio visual section

It’s where audio visual materials are accessed by users eg videos, CDS etc

Reading section

It’s a place where users are accommodated as they do their research. There must be standard tables and chairs for reading, fresh air, cleanliness

Registration procedure to become a member of Archive

  • One should be a Kenyan citizen by whatever means for instance by birth or Nationalization
  • He/ she is supposed to be an adult of sound mind
  • Should have full identification ie one should have a National ID, valid passport or a valid driving license
  • Must have a permanent residence ie one must have a home
  • Have two names of referees with their addresses. The referee act as a mediator in case one loose a book the referee is the one who is responsible to answer such questions
  • Take a passport colored photograph

Rules and regulations for users

This is what one receives after registration in National Archives

The following are rules and regulations

  • One can only access public archives by permit only ie one must be a registered member and the permit renewed annually
  • The opening hours for archive on Monday-Friday is 8.15am-4.30am, and on Saturday from 9.00am-10.00pm
  • One can only borrow a maximum of six documents at any given time
  • Publication of documents will be held over one night ie 48 hrs
  • Researchers can only use pencils and ball point pens. Fountain pens are excluded because they don’t want their materials to be defaced
  • Smokers are not allowed to use archival materials
  • No noise
  • One should not carry water in the archive
  • One should not be accompanied by their children because small children do not obey rules instead they may tear archival materials which are delicate
  • Receiving Mobile phones is not allowed due to noise
  • Sleeping on information materials/books is discouraged

      Security of archival materials  

Archival materials are supposed to be taken care of even more seriously than the registry materials because they are old materials that become delicate with time

Great care is taken on archival materials due to the following;

Their uniqueness– meaning that they can’t be found anywhere else

They are very important-they contain crucial information that cannot be found in any other document ie they can be used for evidence in a court of law

Some of them may be confidential-meaning they are not yet free for circulation

They are fragile-they are weak because they are very old

Archival materials are exposed to same destructive agents like the other materials and these agents of destruction can be classified as;

Biological agents

Environmental agents

Chemical agents

Mechanical forms

Biological agents

It’s destruction of danger from livings mainly inform of animals

They include; Fungi and Insects


It grows on materials depending on the level of humidity, temperature and light available in the storage area.

Fungus pores are naturally in the atmosphere and when environment is conducive they start growing on other paper or non paper services

The archivist should ensure the temperatures in storage areas is not lower than 30c

The humidity should not be higher than 95 percent. Fungus can be killed by high temperatures

As far as paper is concerned some types of paper encourage the growth of fungus even when the temperatures and humidity are right

Some papers contain chemicals like dextrin, starch, carbohydrates and gelatin

This particular danger can only be controlled at the record creation stage. The archivist is supposed to advice the record creators on the type of paper to use during record survey exercise

However as soon as fungus is noticed on paper it should be treated straight away ie by drying it up

The following are some of preventative measures against fungul infection

  • Through cleanliness in the storage room
  • Ideal temperature and humidity observation
  • Constant observation of humidity and temperature levels ie the room should be properly air conditioned for instance presence of hydrometer for measuring and controlling humidity
  • Dehumidifier should be present to absorb moisture from the atmosphere
  • Use of fungicides to control fungal infection
  • Fumigation and it’s done through thermo fumigation ie exposing paper in the air


They are living things and include; cockroach, silver fish, termites, book worms, rodents etc

These insects are present in archival materials because of age . They attack the cellulose on paper and weaken the paper to tear easily

Preventative measures for termites

Ensure that archive is termite free. Archive should be built in termite free hills

Preventative measures of rodents (Mice and rats)

  1. Ensure there is no openings around the building ie ensure the archive is wire meshed
  2. Ensure that after work the doors are air tight
  3. People should not eat in the archive ie discourage people from eating in archive to avoid food being spit in the floor
  4. Poison the rats after informing the staff
  5. Use traps to catch the rats

Security of non-paper materials in the archive

These non-paper involve plastics which require protection as well so that they can last longer

Examples include;

Microfilm, microfiche, tapes, CDs, videos

Security for microform

Microforms are small forms of information materials produced from paper materials through the microfilming process

The care of microform depends on two aspects namely;

  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Handling and storage


The archivist ensures that the materials used has no nitrogen component because it encourages deterioration

Archivist must buy microforms which has acetate because it does not have nitrogen

The archivist ensures he uses white and black films for durability purpose


Films are sensitive to environmental condition like humidity & temperature levels, dust, heat, light, fire and water. So the archivist must be careful where he stores his films

The storage room should be air conditioned ie the place where archival materials are temperature, humidity, dust, heat; light should be kept at the right levels

The storage room should have;

  • Thermometer to measure temperature
  • Hygrometer to measure humidity
  • Heaters to raise heat
  • Humidifiers to lower water in the air

The relative humidity level should not exceed 50-60 degrees. If it raise behind this point growth mould will start growing on the microfilms thus destroying them

The temperature levels should be 20-22 degrees Celsius.

The storage fire equipment of microfilm should be of metallic because they not easily attacked by fire

Install fire extinguishers in store room and ensure they are working

Install water sprinklers to pour water in case of fire break out

The storage room should not be painted with oil based paints because they are flammable

Water based paints are recommended because they do not catch fire easily

Microfilm should be in a lockable place to prevent them from water

Dust and dirt

Microfilms should be dust free because dust affects their quality by making them dry and crackly

The archive management should plant vegetation to trap the dust

Windows should not be opened because they trap dust

Microfilm should be wiped with a clean cotton cloth

Sound recordings

They include tapes ,CDs, videos etc. They constitute part of archival materials and require adequate protection

The causes of damages in sound recordings result from the manufacturing and storage processes, environmental factors

Preventive measures

Chemical elements used during manufacturing process should be kept away from sound recordings because they cause faster deterioration

Bare hands should not handle sound recordings because they contain dust, sweet which can affect the sound recordings

Speedy manufacturing process should be discourage due to impurities left which cause paper deterioration

Storage equipment in archives

The archives administration is supposed to acquire specific types of equipment for their records

There are two types of storage equipment in archive;

  1. Equipment for actual storage of records
  2. Equipment to retrieve and transport records

Storage equipment includes;


These boxes are of standard size and they accommodate loose papers, files, cards etc

The boxes are supposed to be acid free but not too alkaline ie they should be balanced

The boxes are mostly economical in storing records


They can either be metallic, strong plastic or wooden. They should be treated with anti-corrosive agent and rust paint

If wooden shelves are used they should be treated against wooden eating insects

The archivist should avoid using wooden shelves because of the risk of fire. However they are good for absorbing excessive moisture

The shelves should be a standard height but if they are high additional equipment may be bought to help in reaching the high top. The tools are known as stepping ladders

Drawer cabinets

They can be made from strong plastic, steel or wood. They are usually for storing confidential records because are lockable

They can be used for storage of files or known paper materials like tapes, CD, disks

Drawer cabinets should be raised from ground by 10cm from the ground to avoid contact with water and moisture

When wooden cabinets are used, should be well treated to protect them against damage by insects ie apply wooden varnish

Care should be taken in storing archival material which include;

  • Avoiding congestion ie tightness while storing materials to reduce pressure between the materials and also allow free air circulation among the materials

Equipment for transportation


They are for transporting archival materials. They are equipped with wheels to enable them to move smoothly

They are used for transporting large boxes from one place to another for shelving purposes

Publicity of archival materials

Just like other information centers the archive institutions are supposed to promote its services to the public because they are financed from public funds and the information they keep is made for the country’s citizen

There are various methods of publicizing public archival materials. They include the following;

  1. Use of mass media ie TV and radio
  2. Print media ie newspaper and magazines
  3. Exhibitions and posters

However the archive administration has not fully utilize these methods and this is one of the reasons for poor public access

So there is need to raise people awareness about archival services and the challenge falls on archival administrators

The following are some the ways the archivist should use to publicize archival materials

  • The archivist should pay visit to institutions from primary level to university level in order to hold talks on the importance of archival services
  • Greater use of mass media should be encouraged ie the archive should have a habit of paying space in newspaper, radio, print media etc
  • They should encourage visit to National archives by people of all caliber
  • Use of posters in all public places eg hospitals, market, home etc

 Problems faced by archivist concerning publicizing archival materials
Archives do not get enough money to advertize. They are not well funded

Poor management ie the leaders don’t have the responsibility to lead people

Lack of public awareness

Differentiation between various information centers ie libraries, museums, archives

They differ in:


Types of information/ materials

Types of users

Staff/ managers

Type of materials in archive and libraries

These are all information centers which serve different or specific clients or users

Archive deal with non-current information

Libraries deal with current information

Type of users

Users of archive are members of public who are above 18 years and are of sound mind

They could also be citizen of respective countries. They discriminate some members

Libraries serve everybody ie they do not discriminate neither children nor adults

Type of managers

Managers of libraries are called librarians

Managers of archives are called archivists

Managers of museums are known as curators


Museum preserve culture by artifacts ie works of art

Archives preserve culture by records ie written materials

Museum preserves endangering species of animals for heritage for the next generation to see and to be told history of the animals

Methods of classification of materials

In libraries information materials are organized are organized according to Library of congress or Dewey decimal classification systems

Archives arrange materials according to their order of origin and provenance

Museum arrange their materials by assigning each item a specific place as they come and put identification mark that gives the source, names and background

The curators allocate numbers to these items as they come but the number has no relationship with item. The number is for the purpose of keeping inventory records

Archives, museum and libraries act as protectors of the materials in their custody


Pre-colonial East Africa

East Africa is a region of the African continent lying to the East of the continent. It comprises of 3 countries ie Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

Tanzania was initially called former Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The region is boarded to the East by one of the largest water masses ie Indian ocean in the East and in West

It is boarded by DRC Congo Kinshasa. To the North it is boarded by 3 countries ie Somali, Sudan, and Ethiopia. To the south there is Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

    The People of East Africa

There are five broad grou  pings in East Africa who are the native ie

The Bantu– They are one of the largest group in East Africa. They are in East African countries

They are kikuyu, Meru, Kamba, Kisii, Kuria, and Luhyas. In coastal we have Mijikenda and Taita

In Tanzania we have Chakas and Nyamwezi. In Uganda we have Bungadas and Banyoro

The Nilotes- We have three groups of nilotes ie

  1. Highland nilotes- Kalenjin
  2. Lowland nilotes- Turkana
  3. River lake nilotes- Luos’

The Cushites

They are from Somalia and moved westward from Somalia ie the Somalis are the largest group

The people of East Africa were mainly traders and they used to trade among themselves and the kind of trade used not to involve money ie they exchanged goods for goodsbarter trade

They were just hunters and gathers .The trading commodities were;

  • Gum cupules
  • Tortoise shells
  • Ivory
  • Minerals eg gold and copper

The traders of these goods sometimes came from very far across the sea ie Arabia, Persia, and Portugal but at first they were trading among themselves

They brought their religion and culture to the Coastal region of East Africa. They could not move further inland because of certain reasons

  • Aridity of the area ie very dry and hot
  • Tropical diseases
  • Lack of necessary transport/un-navigable rivers
  • Fear of being attacked by man eating animals

The region of East Africa remained without influence from outside until the coming of the Arabs and this region was called oral history meaning there were number of records that were created during this time

People used to pass information from one person to another through word of mouth. Major historical events were passed from father to son or mother to daughter

The history for this period before 19th century is obtainable from other sources not written sources and these sources include;

  • Archeological sources
  • Cultural sources
  • Songs
  • Riddles
  • Anthropological source ie study of man
  • Linguistic ie study and analysis of language, sound, structure, formation and relationship among various language groups
  • Oral tradition ie study of the past as revealed by what was heard by word of mouth from one generation to another through; songs, proverbs, riddles, myths

Colonial East Africa

The first missionary group in 1844 and they had come from the church mission society from German

The two missionaries landed along the Coast of East Africa from Ethiopia ie Dr. Lidwin, John Rebman, Enhardt

They stabilized there after making friends with the Arab ruler Said Said. They had already learnt the Arab language and there was no problem in communicating with Arabs

They attempted to travel to the interior part of East Africa and they managed to reach Mt. Kenya region as well as the Kilimanjaro region

One of them had to go back home after falling sick from tropical diseases which had actually killed his wife and child. He also left because of hostility of Kamba people

Before they left they had made a mark along the Coast by building a church at Rabai and also translated the bible in Kiswahili

The Missionaries who came after the Christian Missionary Society had left were the Holy Ghost fathers in 1863. They had come from inland in India. Their main concern was to rehabilitate free slave trade.

In 1864 the 3rd group of missionaries followed ie University missionary. They had come from Malawi where they had left because of hostility of Arabs slave trade

They moved to Tanzania and build mission stations at two places at Masasi and Magila

The Presbyterian church of Scotland in 1975 was under Dr. David Livingston. They went inland to lake Malawi and build their settlement

Reasons why missionaries came

  • To preach the gospel
  • To teach people on how to read and write
  • To rehabilitate the freed slaves
  • To teach some skills to young men and women eg carpentry, building, tailoring etc
  • To pave way for colonialism

The beginning of politics among the missionaries

The various Europeans missionaries from different part of the world were competing over converts and also recognition from the current rulers they found on the ground but the mother countries got involved to protect their people

The first thing the mother countries did was to sent representatives of trading companies like the royal geographical society to come to East Africa and survey it’s potential

At this time European had just been industrialized so they were in need of raw materials.

In 1885 Britain and other Europe nations had some kind of informal influence in East Africa through their missionaries

They had also established a relationship with the Sultan and Zanzibar because they had stopped slave’s trade in East Africa

In some times this European nations were interested in taking the whole Africa but soon after colonization started through the petition and scramble of Africa by the various European nations

East Africa particular was shared out between Britain and Germany. Britain took over the present day Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with the exception of Zanzibar but also present day Rwanda and Burundi

The history of the three countries


Kenya was called British East Africa before it became Kenya colony in 1920. Between 1888-1894 this region had been under the control of a trading company by the name Imperial British East Africa Company

In 1895-1904 the British government settled down to the administration aspect and Kenya was not regarded. They took time to settle because the country was very arid and unproductive.

They were referring to this region as stony highway to Uganda or a desert. After the change of boundary between Kenya and Uganda in 1902 part of the fertile highlands became part of Kenya

Until this time the administration of British East Africa was in Zanzibar because it did not have a place to settle in

The construction of railway line from Mombasa to lake Victoria also changed the reputation of this region by opening it up

The first formal colonial administration started in 1901 and the commissioner was called sir Charles Chariot who injected the change of boundary in 1902

Charles first mission was to establish an administrative structure that saw the nomination of village headman from the administration structured. He was followed by chief, district officer, DC, PC, governor who was represented by the queen

The main responsibility of the chief and the headman was collection of tax from the village. They became responsible in recruiting of labor in the firms of the British

The Europeans started by taking over not just the administration of the land but also ownership of the administration of the but also ownership of the land

The ownership of the land was legalized in 1902 when the crown land ordinance .this allowed the commissioner dispose of the land in the protection to the white man and this was beginning of land grabbing

The newly acquired Eastern province of Uganda ie from Lake Victoria to Naivasha was given to the White and converted into the name white highland

In 1903 very many settlers arrived from overseas and South Africa. They included war veterans of ex-soldiers. This is the period that the famous Lord Delamea came from South Africa

The governor allowed these settlers to do as they wish with land and the people around them. Their understanding was that this land was unoccupied and they had a right to take it

Lord Delamea set an association with other settlers called planters and farmers association as soon as they came in 1903. This was meant to help them push for their requirement with the government

Later the association was renamed colony association and through this they had to grab a lot of land and obtain free labor

Eliot ruled Kenya until 1904 and was succeeded by Donald Stewart. He continued with the same style of administration ie favoring the settlers

He initiated African reserves policy that was meant to further alienate the African from their land. They were kept in separate settlement called reserves from where they migrated forever in European firms. They did it in fear of invasion

Donald continued with this kind of approach and even wanted to declare British East African and called it British colony. However he did not succeed in having Kenya declared as a colony

This happened later in 1920. There was certain success however for the settler because they were able to change some land laws and also to have administrative power transferred to a colonial office from foreign office of Kenya

Steward also set up a legislative council and executive council (Legico). The number of this law was making bodies derived from settlers

In 1910 the settler through their Legico tried to force their will on the government through passing continuation of association in order to get power from government

This law was passed in 1915 and it allowed the white to claim the highland by whites. The native legislative ordinary introduced in the famous Kipande system. This was a certificate for every male African to ensure that;

They did not move to areas that they were not supposed to stay in.

Paying tax collection

Control of labor

In 1917 the same Legico established in 1905 passed a law that only Europeans could vote in the Legico ie Africans were not allowed to cast their votes

In 1919 he was succeeded by another governor called Northy who ruled from 1919-1923. Just like  the previous governors Donald Steward and Eliot governor Northy continued with the same policy of racialism ie discrimination of black man and actually had Kenya change  from the status of protectorate to colony in 1920

The change of status from protectorate to colony encouraged more settlers to come and take over land in Kenya. Within no time there was resistance of Africans who felt that the white man had gone too far

The grievances from Africans were many and varied and they included;

  • Heavy taxation because they were made to pay tax and not benefiting
  • Double taxation- they paid two different types of tax ie poll and hut tax
  • The Kipande system faced African men to stay in one place next to his master
  • The compulsory labor. If they didn’t work they would pay tax
  • Land alienation ie they had been pushed into the reserves
  • Racial discrimination/ racial segregation ie Africans lived separately as whites could not share schools, roads

The earliest resistance was in 1920 which was lead by Harry Thuku in the name of young Kikuyu association. He was arrested soon after and detained in a police station overnight. Around 25 people were shot died protesting for his release

Harry was transferred from Nairobi to Kismaiyu. That incident reached Britain. He could not give a satisfactory answer. A meeting was held in Britain chaired by the Duke of Devoash  and a declaration was made in 1923 that contained information that could have changed things in the colony but did not.

This declaration was called the Devonshire white paper of 1923 and this was its content. Primary Kenya is an African country and arrest of African native must be paramount and what Africans wanted was to be followed

However they continued with their usual way of treating Africans. Grievances continued to be felt. The degree also allowed Indians to have a representation in the Legico of the colony

The white paper prepared the way for future independence of Kenya

The reasons of Devonshire failure was lack of the will to implement the content of that paper in full because if there was will Kenya would get independence soon. They had very little influence on the colonial government

Other resistance after the Devonshire white paper was implemented as expected ie white paper didn’t stop mistreating the black

In 1923 there was another uprising and it was called Kikuyu central association. It’s intention was the same as the Young Kikuyu Association ie they were expressing the same grievances but they decided to follow a different way of doing things in order to avoid confrontations

There was no demonstration but forcing dialogue talks. Their leader called Kamau Ngegi who became the first president of Kenya ie Kenyatta

  • Their fresh demand was to be allowed to grow cash crops like coffee, tea, pyrethrum, sisal etc
  • The release of Hurry Thuku
  • They wanted the missionaries center school to stop interfering with African culture practices

Because they did not want confrontation with Kikuyu council of association decided to sent their grievances to Britain to be presented to the queen

They sent Kenyatta as a secretary and there was positive answer and Hurry Thuku was released

Kikuyu Council Association went on and established independent schools for Africans who could not be admitted to the white schools

Teachers for independent schools were trained at Kenya teachers training college (KTTC)

The situation remained the same until the broke up of 2nd world war in 1939 and adults Africans were recruited to fight the world war against the British

The gains from the 2nd world war

Although Africans lost their lives during this war they also gained in terms of understanding the white man better

They came back more enlightened in regards to their rights as human beings especially the understanding that white men could also fight among themselves ie in this war Britain was fighting against Germany

They realized that other countries were also fighting for their freedom independence Indians who were fighting Britain

The war also had real gains because in 1944 Africans got their first representative in Legico ie Eliud Mathu a highly educated African. In fact he was an oxford University graduate

There were constitutional changes in the Legico . The labor movement also gained from this time onwards

In 1945 the Nationalist war continued because they were not satisfied with one representative in Legico

After the end of war the Germany and Africans came up with another association known as Kenya African Union (KAU) chaired by James

In 1946 Kenyatta returned to Kenya after 15 years stay in Britain. He came back and became a teacher before he was employed by government. His message to country at large after he came back was they should engage in economical activities like farming, fight for their rights and also go to school

Kenyatta encouraged Kenyan citizen that with unity and strength Kenya was going to be independent

The political movement was very strong as well as the labor movement during this period. There were strikes in Mombasa caused by labor movement

They were opposing the change of Nairobi from town to city from 1950. There was a lot of oath taking among the Africans Nationalists. The oath was taken by a split group called Mau Mau Association from KAU. It was determined to fight for independence instead of asking for it

It was formed by a group of young men known as forty group ie they had been circumcised in 1940s. Their aim was to sensitize Africans about their rights

Soon this movement was banned by government in 1950 because their way of spreading fear among the people adjitating for war and also killings of the white farmers but it did not die. Instead the movement went underground and continued with its activities

They came up very clear that they were a large revolution army and wanted to restore the independence, dignity of a black man in Kenya which had been destroyed by the colonies

The governor at that time was Sir Henry and he declared a state emergency ie restriction of movement for 12 hours a day curfew as it was meant to curtail the activities of the Mau Mau

On the first day of emergency the leaders of KAU was rounded off. KAU as a party was banned and its leaders were taken in detention including Kenyatta

Kikuyu were transported from European firms into reserves and this was a way of controlling Mau Mau. In 1952-1956 was the time for war

In 1956-1960 there was dialogue and state of emergency ended in 1960 and we met the war of liberation. About 10,060 were killed and 100,00 Africans were detained. Only 32 whites were killed

The cost of war estimated 60 million pounds. During the war there were some constitutional changes

In 1954 ministerial position was given to Africans to pursued them but they turned down. In 1957 Mboya was an elected vote in Nairobi. He and others became members of Legico but refused to become ministers in white Legico. They called that institution diluted democracy

In 1958 more Africans were elected as members of parliament which included Oginga Odinga and Shikuku. Together they adjusted for the release of Jomo Kenyatta from detention

In 1960 a meeting held at Lancaster house in London was the first meeting of politicians of the country and the colonial government. They had gone to negotiate the future of this country and the main agenda was independence under majority rule

There are changes they agreed upon as follows;

A common voter row for all Kenyan races ie all adults could vote in future

This was the first step to what majority rule in Kenyan because Africans were the majority in the country and if they were allowed to vote alongside other races they would win

This resolution was a threat to the settler occupation because they called it a victory of Mau Mau

Distribution of ministries in the government was resolved in at this conference. That the ministerial position in the Legico would be distributed according to the number of races

The ministries were distributed at a position of 4:3:2 ie 4 for Africans, 3 would be Europeans and 2 for the Asians

After Lancaster conference Africans had to come up with new political parties ie KANU lead by Gichuru since Kenyatta was not legible

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was the vice president and Mboya was the secretary

KADU was the 2nd party. This was a party for the small tribes but the initiator was the white man. They feared the majority for an idea of settling

They wanted to have a party they could relate with, perpetuate and divide rule policy. KADU was led by the Late Ronald Ngala, Muliro and former president Moi.

The main difference between these two party was that they were ready for independence but their system of government was different ie they had different manifesto

KADU advocated for majimboism / regionalism otherwise both party were united in the release for Kenyatta and advocated for land

In the following year 1962 elections were held and the contestants were KANU, KADU and the minor party ie caredish party

The first government of Kenya was a majimbo government. In 1961 later in the year around November Kenyatta was released and immediately he was elected in LEGICO and was given a position and soon after  became the leader of KANU

In 1962 new election was held. Before that election a 2nd Lancaster house was held in 1962. The aim of the 2nd  Lancaster was to reunite the two strong parties before the elections which was held in 1963

KANU won with 82 seats and KADU lost. Kenyatta was the prime minister of the country. Kenya was the sole leader of the country after the election in 1963

The country still had its ratio position and the settlers felt scared of the outcome of the election. They wanted to leave but Kenyatta assured them for their safety and the reason was that Kenya needed to repair for economic independence and their Africanization in the economic sector.

In 1964 the country become fully independent. In June first 1963 is when we got internal government and in 1964 Kenya became independent republic

When Kenya attained its independence in 1963 both parties were in one government ie multi-party

KADU dissolved herself and joined the government and we became one party state with a central type of government

This one party has an executive president, vice president, cabinet minister and members of parliament. There was only one parliament and therefore federal constitution was changed to a publican constitution with a central government



The republic of Kenya is a unitary state meaning a country with a centralized government

Its origin can be traced about 100 years of colonial independence

The nature of Law

Kenya has unicameral legislature meaning it has only one house ie one house as opposed by bi cameral legislature which has two houses (lower and upper house)

This one house comprises of 158 elected representative and nominated members which has increased to 210

The legislature is the supreme authority in far as law making is concerned and it’s out mate goal for good governance in Kenya through ensuring proper laws are made

The Constitution

The constitution of republic of Kenya has the following functions;

Describes all the organ of government

It determines their positions

It determines their powers and duties

It also sets out certain fundamental rights of individuals

This constitution has several sections but most important section is section 3. This section e of Kenya states as follows;

“This is the constitution of the republic of Kenya and it has the force of law throughout the republic and if any other law is inconsistent with this constitution, that law will not be valid”

The constitution has 3 distinguishable organs that are supposed be independent of each other

These are;

  1. Executive
  2. Legislature
  3. Judiciary


It comprises the president, cabinet ministers. Executive is responsible for initiating and directing national policies

The government department are under control of ministers and are staffed by civil servants

Government departments are responsible for general control of ministers and are staffed by civil servants

Government departments are responsible for general administration at the National level

At local levels we have local authorities that are headed by the minister for local government


He determines common law and interprets the statutes.  It is independent of both legislature and executives

Party and political system in Kenya

Modern political association in Kenya can be traced from as early as 1907 when Europeans settlers formed what was known as the colonialists association

This association later became part of conventional association formed at district level. This was formed to promote the interest of European settlers

The Africans had no representation. The settlers interests were paramount at this time and those were powerful among Europeans became leaders of those district associations

These associations were also the settlers’ parliament because they used to discuss bills and amend them where necessary

The governor used to precede in such meetings and conclusion arrived at those meetings were submitted in the LEGICO (legislative council)

The Indians also had their own associations during this time called Indian congress party. It had deep roots with congress party in India

Its main focus was to champion for human equality ie the right representation in the LEGICO and also amend description in commercial and residential in Kenya

It was closer to the feelings and aspiration of Africans than the settlers’ in India. It worked with East African association, Kikuyu central association, Kavirondo tax payers’ welfare association

The activities of this congress reached their climax at early 1920s resulting to political uprisings.

There was no looking back especially for Africans associations and by 1946 Kikuyu council of association had developed into KAU and its political activities became openly visible

There was a brief interruption during the emergency from 1930-1955 but soon after the political parties emerged again but because the country was still under colonialism these political associations were allowed to operate only at district level

The idea of limiting the party at district level was made to strengthen the district at the expense of National because Europeans view was that;

Africans were not yet politically experienced to have a National association because they were immature

The promoters of colonialism believed that this district association would develop into strong units each representing local parties to National levels

Between 1955-1960 African district associations were powerful in their own district except in Central district ie Murang’a, Nyeri, Kiambu and Kirinyaga

Other than these there was party for Nairobi known as Nairobi People’s convention which was led by Tom Mboya

  • Mombasa African Democratic Union (MADU)
  • Kisii highlands Abagusii Association (KAA)
  • Taita African Democratic Union (TADU)
  • Nakuru African Progress party (NAPP)

Unfortunately for European administrator ie the colonists Africa came together at National level in1960 and formed two political parties

This had been encouraged in the past in Lancaster house conference in 1960. However they could not form one party for the whole country because of ideological differences

Both parties   KADU and KANU were united in the need of independence of whole country and the release of political detainees led by Kenyatta

They all had a common structure because they had grown out of district political association. KANU however was more dynamic both in numbers and leadership because it was led by people like the late Tom Mboya, Oginga Odinga and Gichuru etc

It also had a different ideology from KADU to unitary state with a strong central government

The KADU itself was for federal central government.  The KADU idea was more popular to the Europeans which feared a strong central government under African leadership

They were also influencing the smaller tribes who feared domination by larger tribes who feared domination by larger tribes

KANU was mainly a Kikuyu and Luos affair. Competition among these parties ended in 1964 where KADU dissolved itself voluntarily and joined KANU. This was after Kenyatta’s release and assumption of KANU leadership. It was also because KANU had promised protection of fundamental rights of individuals and didn’t matter where individual belonged

After 1964 we had one party system ie 1965-1966 and this one system was KANU party

However this party lasted up to 1966. Soon after another party emerged in 1966 out of struggle of KANU party ie Kenya people party lead by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga which brought a disagreement with him and Kenyatta

There was a mini general election in June 1966 and after this election KPU lost miserably and this was KANU intention to prove that KPU was weak.

However KPU remained until 1969 and Kenya went to one party system ie Kenya continued like this until 1992 when the country adopted a multiparty constitution


Law is the rule of human conduct imposed upon and enforced among the members of a given country

It’s also a body of rules or correct behavior that are designed to regulate human conduct within a given state

Purpose of law

Law is made to govern and regulate human conduct in a desirable manner

To help preserve peace and stability in the country

Law is made to help in the governance of people of a given state

To provide protection to the citizen of a given country in relation to their rights as human beings, their lives and properties

Provide for punishment of law breakers

Provide a fundamental frame work for society to develop within the limit and social economic justice

Sources of law

According to judicature chapter 8 of laws of Kenya the sources of law are as follows;

  • The constitution
  • Common la
  • Doctrine of equity
  • African customary law
  • Muslim law
  • Acts of parliament

The constitution

It acts as a source of law because it provides the framework upon which laws are formed.

It’s a public document which regulates the relations between the state and its citizens as well as organs of the state

Acts of parliament

According to section 46 of the constitution an act of parliament is law made by parliament

This law begins as a bill. A bill is a a draft law which parliament intends to debate on in the legislative assembly

There are different types of bills;

1. Government bill

This type of bill is presented to parliament itself so that members of parliament can debate it and if it is passed it becomes a law

2. Private member bill

It’s presented to parliament by members of parliament in their capacity as individuals

3. Public bill

It’s a bill that seeks to alter the law throughout the Nation

There are several stages involved into turning a bill into a law

Publication stage

This is a stage at which a bill is published in Kenya gazette to inform the public about the intention to have it as law

Officially the bill should take 14 days in this stage but in some circumstances a bill can be debated before 14 days are over as contained in the study order number 98

First reading stage

During this time the bill is presented in the parliament but not debated so as to inform the members whether it exist to prepare members to discuss it

The day for next reading is fixed according to studying order number 101. The bill is presented in the parliament

Second reading stage

It’s the second time bill is taken to parliament for discussion. During this time the merits of the bill are debated and any necessary changes may be made during this reading

These changes should be consented to by the parliament through voting process and if the majority supports the bill it passes on to the next stage

Committee stage

It’s a stage during which some members of parliament or the whole house take charge of the bill to examine it closely

The committee is authorized to propose amendments to the bill

Reporting stage

The selected committee takes the bill to the house according to the act 101. The committee chairman reports the bill to the house

Third reading

During this stage the bill is looked into. The proposals of the bill are voted for and if passed by the majority the bill moves to the next stage

Presidential assent stage

During this stage the president looks at the bill critically and assents to it by signing against it to take it to law

NB; The president is not bound by any law to give this assent even though parliament passes it

Published in the Kenya gazette stage

This is for public publication. It is supposed to be included in status books of law

The law may or may not be effected immediately. It can take time before it is effected

Disadvantages associated with act of making law

  1. Misuse of parliament executive ie president and his members. This is where members of parliament are used as rubber stamps for what executive wants
  2. The representation of people views may not be apparent ie the representatives of public may not be there
  3. Parliament may lack the time to know how to debate on matters of technical nature
  4. It’s also a time consuming process even with the necessary studying orders some argent matters may be delayed unnecessary
  5. It is prone to bias ie it may be influenced by selfishness for one gender representative

Legislation as a source of law

This is the process of law making through parliament or any other body specially constituted for the purpose

Legislation can be direct or indirect. Direct legislation is the law making by parliament known as a statute or an act of parliament

Indirect legislation is where the law is made through powers derived from the statute or act known as enabling act eg by-laws made by local authority

Types of subsidiary legislation


These are laws made by local authorities such as the city council on behalf of parliament

This power is confirmed by the local council through government act


Are laws made by government with assistance of technical officers in their ministries

These laws are also called regulations, orders, notices etc

Orders in council

Are made by leaders of the country like in United Kingdom is Queen, Kenya we have president

Advantages of subsidiary legislation

They compensate for parliament lost time though parliament is source of making law there are not always there. Therefore they delegate duties to other bodies

The speed/ agency

Some time there is an argent law need to be made but parliamentary process is long so subsidiary legislation can be used

Technicalities of certain subject matter

Some matters are very technical and parliamentarians are not able to handle them because they not expert therefore the law require experts

Flexibility of delegated legislation

These are laws made by either local councils or ministers and can be changed when they are no longer required

Disadvantages of subsidiary legislation

  1. Are said to be democratic in nature because the people who pass these laws are not elected and therefore the laws can affect everybody
  2. These laws made by these delegated bodies are not subject to the principles of nullification in court ie court cannot declare null and void
  3. Inadequate publicity meaning people are not given time to know that there is a law that is coming and therefore people are affected by these laws
  4. These laws can be unreasonable and excessive because people making them are not representatives of citizens
  5. Control over delegated legislation thus has to be controlled by parliament


They include;

African customary law

Common law

The doctrine of equity

African customary law

Are laws based on customs and traditions of the various ethnic groups in African indigenous people

These African Kenyan laws are applied in Kenyan courts under the following conditions;

They are applied as long as they don’t contradict with the existing law

The parties involved in this case must either be party to that customary law or affected by that law

The law should not be discriminating

Customary laws are applied in certain cases, namely

Civil matters eg

  • Divorce
  • Dowry payment
  • Marriage
  • Pregnancy of unmarried woman
  • Adultery
  • Adoption of children
  • Legitimacy of children
  • Ante-state succession ie no will for reference

Common law

It is a term used to refer to

Any law apart from legislation law

It’s also law that was applicable in England and practiced by the various communities leaving there

NB; The term common law originated from the ancient custom of England and came to Kenya with Europeans during colonialism. It can be called customary law of Britain

The doctrine of equity

Equity means fairness or justice. When it is combined with doctrine means that body of English law that was developed by the court in Britain to supplement and it came in Kenya during colonialism

To supplement means it was made to fill the gap was not filled by common law. It was also made to introduce fairness where common law was unjust

One of the fairness was;

Duration ie one would do something wrong and before compensation which took a lot of time

Inspecifity ie it lack specifity and it was very general in application

Case laws

These are laws that are made by judges in high courts through the judgments that they pass

Case laws are applied when circumstances are completely the same

Case laws are also borrowed eg Kenya can use Indian case laws

Advantages of case laws

Case law provide certainty and consistency in the application of law normally called the rule of law ie law should be applied fairly to everybody

It acts as good reference to judges of law court who might be clear about them

It provides for growth in law without necessary going to the whole process of law making

Case law reflect changes in the society ie things do not remain static


Lack of flexibility in the law ie judges might follow the same strategy in handling the cases

It can result to unfairness in sense that may a judge neglect some things concerning certain case


The idea of administering East Africa has been there for a long time but each time attempts to do this they developed barriers to federation even today the 3 African territories are still separate politically

However economical attempts have been made in creating associations supposed to remove trade barriers in the 3 territories

The first attempt at federation took place in 1924. This was done by the British colonial under a secretary by the name L.S Amery. He established a commission to examine the possibility of bringing together the 3 federation in East Africa

At the time Tanganyika was recovering from Germany administration and the governor in Tanganyika was not in support of federation because he had the mandate to protect Tanganyika from settler influence which was rampant in Kenya

However the governor of the 3 countries in East Africa agreed to form an association called the governor’s conference which was made to forge co-operation of a sort of economic front

They were supposed to meet once per year to discuss matters of common interest among the 3 East African states

This continued until 1927 when a second attempt to federate the 3 countries because they were still under the same colonial power. This was led by Sir Hilton but still the things remained the same

In 1929 a third attempt was made a and still Tanganyika was not willing to co-operate. They co-operated in matters of postal facilities, custom services, transport and communication

During the war 1939-1945 attempts were made to bring other countries into the East African fold ie Malawi and Zambia. They called this co-operation a joined economic council for East Africa

This was done for the purpose of Second World War. It was not made to last. It was a way of pulling resources by Britain

After the war the colonial was dissolved and countries began to operate separately. Things were quiet until 1948. This is a land mark in co-operation because a body called East African high commission was formed

Its mandate was to pursue the idea of economic co-operation in East Africa. In order to improve efforts on co-operation along communication lines, custom, postal services this had been there before

In addition they included metrological matters, statistics, higher education, currency money and research

How this co-operation operated

It had its headquarters in Nairobi. It run its own legislative council and it was made to pass laws

In 1961 the body changed its name to East African common services organization (EACSO). The change of name was done to reflect its function

One of the countries had became independent ie Tanganyika in 1961. The organization continued its services until the 3 remaining had became independent and even after.

In 1967 after all 3 countries had become independent there they formed another body called East African community one

It had now became clear that political co-operation would never unit because the 3 presidents wanted to govern their own countries

East African was created through the commission of another community called Philip commission which came up treaty for East African commission

East African treaty recommended the following;

  1. That a bank to be established called East African development bank. The purpose of this bank was to promote equitable distribution of industries through equal financing
  2. Promote a common market of East Africa to ensure free movement of goods and services, labor, capital etc
  3. Establish a common time barrier against trade with countries outside East Africa in order to protect trade in East Africa for competition made to promote and protect development of East African industries

As a result of establishment of East African bank the 3 countries set up a trading organization owned by government

They also encourage East Africans to own commercial and industrial organization that would be financed through their trading organization in each country

In Uganda a trade organization called African business promotion limited was set up

In Kenya industrial and commercial development co-operation was formed in order to promote business

In Tanganyika they established international Trading Company of Tanganyika. This pushed economic in East Africa

The Co-operation of Tanganyika concentrated in higher education which by that time included secondary, University and technical education but specifically a University known as East African University in 1963

Each territory had branch of this University. In Kenya dad Nairobi University, Uganda Makerere and Tanganyika had Darussalam

The number of graduates in these colleges rose to over 60,000 in 1970 and because of growth in number. The 3 colleges were authorized to work as independent.  in 1975 unfortunately East African community collapsed

Reasons for the collapse East African community

  1. Personal interests ie greed
  2. Lack of potential will among the e leaders in East African countries
  3. Petty jealousy
  4. Political ideological differences ie different systems of government
  5. Different economical and social policies
  6. Lack of proper mechanism to enforce the treaty requirements

East African Community

The collapse of East African Community happened in 1977 and lasted until 2000

In 1999-2000 another economic body was formed. It was a renewal of earlier treaty of East African community but precautions were taken to avoid the pitfalls from the past

The treaty of establishment of East African community was signed by 3 heads of state on November 30th 1999 in Arusha Tanzania

This treaty marked the lodging of another East African community body. The goals of this second community were the same as before namely;

To widen and deepen co-operation among the partner state in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, security, legal and judicial affairs

This was for mutual benefit of the member state

The vision of regional co-operation was as follows;

To create wealth and enhance competiveness through increased production trade and investment in the region. The 3 states could therefore compete effectively in the world economy as one region

To reach this goal the treaty established the following;

  • Custom union
  • Common market
  • Monitory union
  • Political union

The following principles were o be observed by each community

  • Mutual trust
  • Political will to do things
  • Peaceful cohesion
  • Peaceful settlements of disputes
  • Good governance
  • Equitable distribution of benefits

The treaty had specific objectives namely;

Promotion of a sustainable growth and equitable development of partner states

Strengthening and consolidation of political and economic ties

Enhancing and strengthening the participation of the prime sector in the economy

Streamlining of gender in all government programs and enhancement of the role of women in the government

Promotion of peace, security and stability within the region

To achieve these objectives the East African community established the following institutional organizations


This was an organization comprising of 3 heads of states of government and its main function is to give general direction to development to lead into achievement of these goals

Council of ministers

It consists of ministers responsible for regional co-operation. This was a policy organ of the community to ensure promotion, monitoring and review of program implementation

Co-coordinating committee

It consisted of permanent securities for regional co-operation. They were required to write reports to the council of ministers on the progress of the activities of the co-operation

Sectarian committees

Prepared comprehensive programs in their respective areas, monitoring their progress of these programs and then reporting to coordinating committee

East African court of justice

Ensured common interpretation and adherence to the law and mostly important compliance to the treaty

East African Legslative assembly

It was a legislative for East African community


It’s the most executive organ of East African and it oversees the performance of all organizations above

There was a body to coordinate inter-diversity council for East Africa

All these bodies were supposed to have priority over individual country matters as far as the community is concerned

On the social co-operation the treaty contained the following;

There would be trade liberalization meaning that one was allowed to trade anywhere

Standardization in quality assurance meaning that all goods produced by various countries are equal

Monitoring co-operation in money matters

Infrastructure and service would be developed equally

Free movement of persons, labor and services

Right of establishment of residence

Free trade association

It’s a situation whereby two countries or more have come together to trade without any form of taxation. They therefore constitute a common market ie a market for all the members

East Africa is free market where members can trade without no restriction

Preferential trade area

Here each country has to pay a certain amount of tax to the member country

It is supposed to reduce imbalances in trade or compensate for imbalance in trade

The member country may not be equal thus some countries are disadvantaged

Treats of the New East African Co-operation/ community

Tanganyika is a member of South Africa development co-operation (SADC) which is a free trade area for Southern and Central Africa states

If Tanzania chooses to remain a member of SADC there would be conflict of interest because it has its own rules and East African community has its own rules

SADC is very strong because there is gold. If East Africa has to be strong in economic areas it has to work together with SADC

COMESA- Common East Africa Market Area is another strong trading area and can be a threat to future working community

The early existence of mistrust slowed down growth of trade in the 3 East African communities

The 3 states are still at different economic level ie there is complains of trading imbalances and this can seriously threaten the growth of trade of East African community

There is great hope that East African community will sustain itself even for political reasons. This is because the benefits are many;

Benefits of East African Co-operation

  1. Poverty elevation in the region ie removal of poverty hence greater market for jobs opportunities
  2. Greater social responsibility ie there is no idleness in that people will have jobs
  3. People standard of living is heightened ie uplifted due to job opportunities
  4. Goods are also cheaper and therefore affordable because there are no tax, factories are producing goods in large quantities and they enjoy economic scale
  5. Faster economic development for the member country ie the rate of economic is high because people have money to invest in industries
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