On December 12th, Great Britain granted Kenya independence within the British Commonwealth. Its first leader was Jomo Kenyatta..
The struggle for Kenyan independence was a long and arduous journey that involved various forms of resistance against British colonial rule. The Mau Mau uprising, which occurred from 1952 to 1960, was one of the most significant armed struggles advocating for Kenyan independence. Primarily consisting of the Kikuyu ethnic group, the Mau Mau fighters targeted both British settlers and Africans who were seen as collaborators with the colonial regime. The British government declared a state of emergency in response to the uprising and detained thousands, including Jomo Kenyatta, who was imprisoned on allegations of involvement in the insurgency.
The struggle wasn't confined to armed resistance; there were also political movements and negotiations that played a critical role in gaining independence. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, nationalist political organizations, most notably the Kenya African National Union (KANU) led by Jomo Kenyatta and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), became increasingly active in the push for independence.
In 1960, the British government began to make constitutional reforms that paved the way for self-governance and eventual independence. A series of Lancaster House Conferences were held in London to negotiate the transition to independence, which included the participation of African nationalist leaders.
By 1963, it became increasingly clear that colonial rule was unsustainable, and the British government agreed to grant Kenya independence. The independence process culminated on December 12, 1963, when Kenya was officially declared an independent state within the British Commonwealth, with Jomo Kenyatta as its first leader. A seasoned political activist, Kenyatta had been involved in anti-colonial activities and was once imprisoned by the British authorities on charges related to the Mau Mau uprising, a guerrilla war against colonial rule. After his release, he played a vital role in the negotiations that led to Kenya's independence.
Under Kenyatta's leadership, Kenya adopted a policy of political stability and economic development. His government focused on nation-building by promoting unity among Kenya's diverse ethnic groups. Kenyatta pursued a capitalist economic model, in contrast to some of his contemporaries in Africa who leaned towards socialism. This led to a relatively stable economy, but also perpetuated economic disparities that were remnants of the colonial era.
Kenyatta's regime was also characterized by a consolidation of power, which saw the transition of Kenya from a multi-party system to a de facto one-party state under the Kenya African National Union (KANU). While this led to political stability, it also raised concerns about democratic governance and led to increasing authoritarianism.
Kenyatta remained in power until his death in 1978, after which he was succeeded by Daniel arap Moi. Moi continued many of Kenyatta's policies but also introduced changes that shaped Kenya's political and economic landscape in different ways.