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Why did the British Empire colonize Kenya in 1895? 

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rosannalilly80 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 21, 2012 at 7:53 PM via web

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Why did the British Empire colonize Kenya in 1895? 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 21, 2012 at 8:04 PM (Answer #1)

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There are a number of reasons why the British colonized Kenya.  In general, though, they are the same types of reasons that the British had for most of their colonization.  The British colonized Kenya for economic considerations and for increased power.

The British saw Kenya as a potential source of wealth.  It had raw materials like ivory.  It also had areas that seemed to have the right sort of climate and soil for European settlement and farming.  These sorts of economic factors made it attractive.

The British also saw colonizing Kenya as a way to get more power.  They felt it would give them more prestige in their competition with other European powers.  They also thought it might provide more security for their hold on the Nile (which was important because it dominated Egypt).

In these ways, the British colonized Kenya for reasons of economics and of power.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM (Answer #2)

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In addition to the reasons already stated, it is important to realize that there was European competition for colonization of Africa, from Germany, Portugal, France, and Belgium, among others, which had or were in the process of colonizing substantial portions of Africa.  Colonization was a competitive process, and every area the British could colonize was an area another country could not.  I always think of this as like the game Risk, where one's position is considerably strengthened the more one has of a continent, although colonization was by no means a game, of course, and had dreadful moral implications, which haunt us to this day. For Great Britain to "grab" another piece of Africa strengthened it vis-a-vis other world powers, though.

Furthermore, the British, an island nation, had nowhere to go to expand economically or politically without colonizing.  The small island nation saw itself as having no other way to "grow."  The countries of Europe, for the most part, were well-defended, fairly well-established political entities, which would have been costly to conquer, so African expansion was a logical choice, being peopled by those who had few, if any, defenses against colonization. 

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