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...
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.