Factors for European expansion into Kenya in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries

  1. Nationalism in Europe

When the British saw that Germans were coming towards East Africa, then the British decided to extend their colony to Kenya.

  1. Strategic important

East Africa generally important to British in that they own the materials that British use in their industries e.g. Suez Canal in Egypt would provide

  1. Economic Imperialism

East Africa as great source of raw materials and market for their finished goods from their industries; they wanted to expand their industries in order to employ their high growth rate of population.

Establishment of colonial rule in Kenya

Factors leading to European expansion into Kenya

Economic factors

  1. Industrial revolution in Europe; following the industrial revolution in Europe, many countries sort to have sources of raw materials and these were provided by their colony.
  • Following the same industrial revolution, industries produced in excess products and hence wanted to expand market for the products.
  • Following the same industrial revolution, industries have made so much money and there was a need for places to invest the excess capital.
  • They also desire to have a source of cheap labour and this was available in Africa.
  • There was speculation in Europe about the availability of deep bockets of minerals such as gold, zinc in Africa.

Political reasons

The unification of Germany

By 1870, Britain and France were the most powerful nations but following their unification Germany became powerful nation.

Following this defeat, Germany lost some of her provinces such as Alsace Lorain following France returned attention to Africa.

Public opinion

Around 19th the government became more democratic and government pays more attention to its people and their contribution.

Strategic consideration

The Suez Canal was the shortest distance towards the colony; it was constructed by money from British of which was to be refunded; however, this money led to enable to pay – Egypt remained in debted to Britain and France – later when Britain took over Egypt, Britain went ahead to colonize Kenya believing it was the source of the Nile.

Social factors

Missionaries demanded for protection; missionaries operating locally have met threats and competition from other missionaries.

Growth of European population; due to their population, European established their rule in Kenya.

Humanitarian factors

Europeans came to be modernizing Africa through Western education and provide modern services as well as to stop region trades.


Methods used to occupy Kenya:-

Following the partitioning of East Africa, British embarked to Kenya they employed various methods such as:-

  • The signing of treaties.
  • Collaboration, military conquest.
  • The building of basis or forts.
  • Indirect rule (used African leaders to rule in advance).

The signing treaties

Several treaties have been signed in the various treaties with chiefs; in most cases the African chiefs never understood the full meaning of such agreements between Olaibon Lenana and the British in their collaboration.

Some communities such as the Wanga under the Mumia and Olaibon under Lenana really collaborated with the British. Most of this British were promising but were never fulfilled.

Military and expedition

The British applied military force to those committees that did not readily accept the establishment of the rule. Plenty of expedition was dispatched against communities like Bukusu, Nandi, Luo.

Operation of Bases

Operation of bases or forts were build to enhance the political control e.g. Fort Smith, Port hall.]

Kenyan people responses to British

Kenyan communities offered various responses to colonial rule; some actively resisted others collaborated and others just stare not to choose.

Active resistant

Some Kenyan communities including the Nandi, Agiriama, Bukusu and some sections of Agikuyu resisted the initial occupation of the British; they made harm weapons to defend themselves from the colonials.

However military expedition were sent to resisted communities but this only intensified the resistant struggle.

The Nandi resistance

Causes of the Nandi rebellion

Nandi bride; the Nandi had been experiencing some good success offered by their neighbours e.g. Luo, Bukusu, when the British tried to occupy their territory the Nandi intensified the insult.

Nandi intensified their superiority; the Nandi warriors were well equipped with weapon, their cultural practice of cattle rustling have prepared them well and they were ready to fight and most superior to whites.

Physical appearance of white man

To the Nandi the big complexion of the white men was considered strange to them assured as evil that should be expelled fro their territory.

Land alienation for British from the government program planned to relocate the Nandi away from the ancestral land to pave way for white settlement for agriculture and for construction of railway and community was quite annoyed.

The Nandi Resistance

Why the Nandi resistance was very long

  1. The Nandi region consisted of caves, forest which favoured guerilla warfare.
  2. There region ale system provided them with young men who were experienced with cattle rustling, well organized, discipline and effective.
  3. The Nandi were able to acquire locally manufactured weapons made by local iron smiths.
  4. The Nandi had regular supply of food that sustained fighters for long.
  5. The wet gold blind men in the Nandi region cost the spirit of the British war.
  6. The Nandi had a mixed economy such that when the British destroyed their crops they would turn to livestock and vice versa.
  7. Nandis got help from the Kipsigis, the Elgeyo. The Nandi believed that their leader Orkoiyot had supernatural powers; this gave the fighters determination to fight on.

Reasons for the Nandi defeat

  1. The death of Koitalel arap Samoei completely demoralized the effort to resist.
  2. The British got the reinforcement comprising of Indians, Somali fighters.
  3. The Maasai also joined the British.
  4. The Nandi traditional weapons were inferior to the British guns.
  5. The British had also well organized military and sophisticated weapons.
  6. The British employed scorched earth policing to ensure there was destruction causing starvation among the Nandi.
  7. The Nandi were affected by small box which killed many warriors, eroded warriors strength.

Results of the Nandi rebellion

  • Massive lose of life.
  • British colonized Nandi
  • Nandi territory were taken away by white settlement
  • Nandi were pushed to reserves
  • Destruction of properties.
  • The Nandi people were impoverished.
  • The East coast fear livestock raiding from the neighbouring communities.
  • Nandi lose their dignity in the region.
  • The economic lifestyle was disrupted.
  • The Nandi became spontaneous and cheap labours.
  • Many Nandi were recommitted to British policing.

Causes of Agiriama resistance

  1. Force constriction; the Agiriama were forced to produced at least one thousand able bodied men to fight in the British army.
  2. Insult of the Agiriama culture especially by the British policemen who raped Agiriama women.
  3. Disruption of their economic activities especially in ivory and food stuff; they saw the British has taken up their role as middle men in long distance trade.
  4. People were forced to work on lands that actually have been snatched away by them (forced labour).
  5. Forced taxation; the Agiriama were being forced to pay tax especially in form they did not take like e.g. labour instead of grains or cattle.
  6. The Agiriama hated the headmen appointed by the British who were very harsh especially when it came to tax collection.
  7. Massive land alienation especially to settle white farmers this forced the Agiriama to seek wages on these farms, this annoyed the Agiriama elders.

Effects of resistance

  1. The Agiriama were defeated and leaders (Mekatili wa Menza) were sent away.
  2. The Agiriama lost their independent to the British.
  3. Many lives were lost.
  4. Much property was destroyed.
  5. Some of their shrines known as Kayas were destroyed.
  6. Livestock/foodstuff was confiscated or destroyed by the British.
  7. The economic facilities were disrupted.
  8. The Agiriama were prohibited from brewing traditional cica which was an important source of livelihood as a social activity.


The Maasai collaboration

Reasons for Maasai collaboration

  1. The Maasai had been weakened by the human and livestock diseases when the British arrives at their territory.
  2. Natural calamities such as long as long drought followed by locust invasion which led destruction of pasture and the death of livestock.
  3. Many Maasai also died following a famine brought about by drought in the 1890’s forcing them to seek food the British.
  4. When the Nandi emerged as the strong arm they raided the Maasai thus weakening them both economically and militarily.
  5. Between 1880-1870 the two Maasai communities i.e. the Purko Maasai and Kwai Maasai has encouraged in several civil wars, many Maasai died in this war thus weakening them militarily and economically.
  6. Lenana their leader thought the British will give him military support against his bother Sendeiyo.
  7. Lenana felt that the British would provide his people (Maasai) to see them from starvation.
  8. The Maasai had witnessed when two British men killing more than 200 Maasais making them realize resisting British will be devastating.
  9. Lenana felt that he will consider his position and that of his kingdom by collaborating with the British.
  10. The Maasai wanted the British t get back their children, women from their Kikuyu who had kept them in custody, who Agikuyu as refused to surrender during the drought in 1890’s.

Consequences of the Maasai collaboration

  1. Lenana was recognized as a paramount chief of the Maasai in 1901.
  2. The Parko Maasai were divided into two sections leading to the separation of related clans.
  3. Maasai land was alienated and reforms created for them in Laikipia and Ngong.
  4. The Maasai cattle economy was readily affected leading to lose of wealth.
  5. Maasai freedom was readily curtailed and they could only perform rituals in a five square mile reserved for that purpose.
  6. The Maasai lose their independence since their land was declared British colony in 1890s.
  7. Some Maasai were hard to fight against resisting communities such as the Nandi, Kikuyu.
  8. They could no longer carry out their customs of cross breeding with their Samburu neighbours this weakened their livestock.

The Wanga collaboration

Reasons for Wanga collaboration

  1. Nabongo Mumia the leader of the Wanga collaborated with the hope of being made the paramount chief not only of the Wanga but for the entire Western region.
  2. Mumia hoped to secure protection and help against its traditional enemies such as the Luo of Ugenya, the Nandi and the Bukusu.
  3. He sought help to expand his territory.
  4. He wanted to get modern arms to their warriors.
  5. He had realized that resistance against the British was a waste of time for he had seen what had happened to Bukusu who resisted.
  6. He wanted o take advantage of Western civilization in the region e.g. education and religion they had realized that education was superior.

Results of Wanga collaboration

  1. Mumia was made the paramount chief.
  2. Mumias women were used by the British to seduce the Luo, Bukusu and Nandi.
  3. Mumias town became the centre of colonial administrative in Western Kenya.
  4. Nabongo Mumia benefitted a great deal in the trade that some caravans past through his territory to Uganda.
  5. Wanga agents were appointed by the British to rule over other Western communities. His headquarter became the major British administrative base before it was shifted to Kakamega.
  6. Wanga expanded by co hexing new territory in Samia and Busoga.
  7. Mumias people acquired material benefit through trade, education and religion.
  8. The Wanga were finally compromised when the British declare Kenya their colony.

Reasons for Akamba resistant

The establishment of rule made meant to lose their independence.

The British disrupted the long distance trade which was the life of the Akamba.

The British had abused the Akamba e.g. raped Akamba women and looted their property.

The British forced the Akamba to work on public projects by force.

The British disrupted constantly the peace by sending military expedition to them.

The British wanted to stop the Akamba from raiding their neighbours’ livestock e.g. Agikuyu.

Reasons for the Akamba collaboration

British had beaten them so they had no option but to collaborate

The Akamba had been attacked by the devastating famine which made them vulnerable and weak.

The British had superior weapons which the Akamba the Akamba realized that it was futile to fight on.

The British attacked ruthlessly scaring away their warriors.

The Akamba who resisted were defeated.

Reasons for Akamba defeat

  1. There was emerge among the Akamba, some seek opportunities whose aims was to rich themselves.

The Akamba were highly sequenced society that could not offer any resistance.

The famine of 1899 made them weak that they could not fight.

They missionaries had pacified some sections of Akamba by undermining their religion and cultural beliefs.

The disruption of the Akamba long distance trade led to a significant lose of livelihood thus further weakening them.

Consequences of Akamba resistance

The British declared the Akamba territory their protectorate.

There was large land alienation to pave way for British settlement.

Properties were destroyed, livestock confiscated.

British interfered with the Akamba culture e.g. raped Akamba women forcefully

Akamba men were conscripted to the kings Africa rivals to fight along side the British against enemies.

The Agikuyu resistance

The Agikuyu reactions were mixed because the society was sequenced therefore not possible to mobilize the community to unite and agree on one direction either resist or collaborate.

Reasons for the Agikuyu resistance

Some of their leaders collaborated because they derived personal wealth and prestige.

Others collaborated because they need protection from their enemies locally.

Some of them collaborated because they fear the loses of leadership.

British agents raided the Agikuyu livestock.

The British harassed the Agikuyu women e.g. rape

The Agikuyu felt that their culture had been interfered with.

Massive land alienation paved way for British settlement

British applied force.

Results of Agikuyu resistance

It fueled hatred and mistrust among the Agikuyu of Muran’ga, Kiambu, Nyeri, Kirinyaga to date.

Large tracks of land were coned out and given out to white settlers and collaborating Agikuyu Leaders.

The Kikuyu who lost land became squatters hence poverty.

Some Kikuyu leaders rose to prominent level due to their collaboration

Lose to loss of life as many of the Kikuyu were killed.

Lose and destruction of properties.

The Luo

The Luo of Asembo and Gem collaborated.

The Luo of Ugenya resisted.

Reasons for resistance

The Luo of Ugenya, because:-

  1. They needed to protect land against alienation
  2. They feared loosing independent
  3. The British habit of tem for grains and livestock even took their fish without paying them.
  4. The pristine expedition sent against them by the Mumia and the British provoked them to revenge.

Reasons for collaboration of Luo

Luo of Asembo and Gem

  1. Their chief Odera Akan’go had been influenced by his neighbours the Wanga to derive benefits such as education from the British.
  2. He needed the British help against the Luo of Seme, Sakwa.
  3. They had the futility of resisting the British through their neighbours.

Consequences of Luo resistance

  1. Both the collaborators and the resistants lose their independence.
  2. Lose of property through burning and looting.
  3. Lose of life.
  4. Brought hatred between the collaborators and resistants.
  5. The leaders were the people who benefitted from Western education.
  6. Their traditional and political system was replaced by the British administration.
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