What impact did British Colonialism/Imperialism have on Kenya?

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In 1888, the British East Africa Company (BEAC) received a charter to develop trade in Kenya from the Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1895, after the financial collapse of the BEAC, Great Britain took Kenya over as the East Africa Protectorate and established control over Kenya's economy and opened the highlands...

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In 1888, the British East Africa Company (BEAC) received a charter to develop trade in Kenya from the Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1895, after the financial collapse of the BEAC, Great Britain took Kenya over as the East Africa Protectorate and established control over Kenya's economy and opened the highlands for white settlement. To do so, the British built the Uganda Railroad linking Mombasa with their territory in Uganda. As a result, many British people arrived in Kenya as farmers and missionaries, and Indians came to Kenya to carry out the labor to build the bridge. The British wanted to establish a market economy with crops such as coffee, a change from the traditional practice of growing subsistence crops.

The British began a campaign to eradicate local practices, including the practice of native religions (including local beliefs in witchcraft) and slavery. In addition, the British tried to modernize agricultural techniques, which met with local resistance. Local tribes such as the Maasai and Kikuyu were often displaced as a result of European settlement.

Kenya was ruled by a legislative council that, particularly after Kenya was made a Crown Colony in 1920, left native Kenyans (and other people such as Indians and Arabs) largely out of the political process. At this point, Kenyan nationalism developed, as the European settlers did not allow locals to grow coffee. Europeans also established a hut tax that drove many local Kenyans, who were landless, to the cities in search of employment. After World War II, Kenyan nationalism developed with intensity (including during the Mau Mau Uprising of 1952 to 1960), and the colony became independent in 1964. 

The legacy of British colonialism in Kenya is in part the economic strength of the country in comparison to its neighbors in East Africa. However, there are still very strong tribal rivalries that occasionally erupt, particularly after elections in Kenya. The British did not unite the country but instead left long-standing divisions that still surface in the country's political process. 

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The British government ruled over Kenya between 1895 and 1963. The presence in this east African country left an indelible mark. The positives of British rule were the establishments of government and education systems that improved Kenyan lives. The British brought political stability that led to the end to regional warfare and slavery that existed before the British arrived. The system of government established by Britain was one that modeled representative rule. Despite the fact that Africans had very little say in the government, it was a sort of guide for future generations of Kenya.

Another positive was the infrastructure improvements made by the British, particularly in the area of railroad transportation. Britain was able to modernize Kenya in a way that benefited the people after they were granted independence. Today, Kenya is one of the strongest economies in East Africa.

The negatives associated with British rule revolve around the loss of African culture and sovereignty. The British introduced a new language and religion to the Kenyans that still exist in significant ways today in the country. Many British moved to Kenya during the colonial period and over 32,000 are still in Kenya. They tend to exert significant influence over Kenya's political elite. Some of the land policies and the politics of divide and conquer had the effect of causing political instability in Kenya after the British left.

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