Early Political Organizations In Kenya Upto 1939
- When many African from different communities and countries met, they realized that they shared numerous interests and problems which necessitated political unity.
- The Africans’ disapproval of the Whiteman’s immortality during the war, as he could also get wounded, die and suffer like them. This motivated them to strive for equal rights when they came back.
- The introduction of many unfair measures after the war made their lives difficult. For example, governor Northey introduced the Soldier settlement scheme in 1919 to settle British ex-soldiers while African ex-soldiers got a raw deal.
- The introduction of the Kipande system in 1920 which was used to force Africans to provide labour for the European settlers.
- The replacement of the Indian Rupee with the shilling in 1921 meant that those in possession of the rupee had valueless money at a short notice.
- The reduction of African wages and the increase in hut tax and poll tax in 1920 from 10 to 16 shillings.
- The change of status of Kenya from a protectorate to a colony in 1920 which dawned on the Africans that the Whiteman was here to stay unless this move was fought.
This was the first political organization in Kenya. It was founded in 1920 by Loyalist Kikuyu chiefs, concerned about the continued grabbing of African land for European settlement. They also complained about the planned reduction of African wages after the replacement of the rupee with the shilling, the kipande system which they equated to slavery.
The patron was Paramount Chief Kinyanjui wa Gathirimu and Chief Koinange wa Mbiyu was the president. The secretary was I.M.Ishmael. Other members were Josiah Njonjo, Philip Karanja, Mathew Njoroge and Waweru wa Mahui.
The Association, being made of loyalist chiefs, was never aggressive in its demands. The members therefore failed to get any meaningful concessions from the government.
Later, Harry Thuku and Abdalla Tairara joined the association together with other Christian converts who were labourers, colonial house servants and clerks in Nairobi and central Kenya. When Thuku tried to introduce radicalism in the Association, he was forced to decamp on 7th June 1921 and founded the Young Kikuyu Association.
The East African Association.
It began off as Young Kikuyu Association (YKA) in 1921 having been inspired by the Young Buganda Association in Uganda. Its founders included Harry Thuku, Abdalla Tairara, Mwalimu Hamisi and Muhamed Sheikh.
Harry Thuku, the leading founder of this association was a mission educated elite who was working as a telephone operator in Nairobi. He became dissatisfied with the non-aggressiveness of the Kikuyu Association which was dominated by loyalist chiefs, in pressing the colonial government for Africans’ demands.
YKA being very aggressive demanded;
- The return of African land.
- Better working conditions for Africans.
- Reduction of taxes.
- Withdrawal of Kipande system which had been introduced in 1920.
- Increase in wages.
YKA incorporated other ethnic community members thus necessitating it to change the name to the East African Association in July 1921. The officials included Harry Thuku (Chairman) George Samuel Okoth, Abdalla Tairara, Kibwana Kambo, Jesse Kang’ethe, Z. K. Sentongo from Uganda, Maitei ole Mootian, Molanket ole Sempele from Tanzania, James Mwanthi and Muhamed Sheikh. EAA became a very popular association in the 1920s attracting huge crowd in its meetings.
Grievances of the East African Association
- They were demanding for the removal of the status of Kenya as a colonial territory.
- They were demanding for a common roll for all in the legislative council elections.
- They wanted the return of the alienated land, back to African owners.
- They were opposed to forced labour.
- They wanted more educational facilities and opportunities for Africans.
- They were demanding that all labour in urban areas be paid fair wages.
- They wanted the compulsory selling of cattle be stopped.
- Removal of Kipande System.
- Protested European domination of government.
- Wanted hut tax that was exclusively paid by Africans abolished.
On 16th March 1922, a Kikuyu Woman, Muthoni Nyanjiru, challenged the African men to violence demanding the release of Thuku. More than 21 people including Muthoni Nyanjiru, were killed when the police opened fire on the over 1000 people who were surging forward. Harry Thuku was deported to Kisimayu. His colleagues Waiganjo and Mugekenji were banished to Lamu as EAA was banned.
Consequences of Harry Thuku’s arrest.
- The political parties that succeeded the EAA continued using even more radical approach when they realized that the colonial government was determined to continue using ‘Iron Rule’ in Kenya.
- Governor Edward Northey was recalled to London by the then Colonial Secretary, Sir Winston Churchill due to the way he mishandled the Thuku affair.
- The colonial government did not allow formation of any other countrywide political Associations among Africans until 1945.
- Thuku became the undisputed flag-bearer of Kenyan Nationalism prior to formation of later political parties.
The kikuyu central association.
It was formed in 1924 at Kahuhia, Fort Hall with Kang’ethe becoming the president and Henry Gichuru, secretary. Job Muchuchu (Treasurer), James Beauttah (secretary-general) and Jesse Kariuki (vice-president). All these were extremist politicians whose activities were closely monitored by the government.
Grievances of the Kikuyu Central Association.
- They were demanding for the removal of the 1915 Crown Land Ordinance that made Africans mere tenants and not real owners of their land.
- They were demanding for African representation in the Legislative Council.
- They were opposed to forced labour.
- They wanted free primary education as opposed to the colonial education system.
- Establishment of a secondary school, training facility for hospital workers and a school for girls.
- Removal of kipande system.
- They demanded that all colonial laws be translated into Gikuyu Language so that all members of the community could understand them.
- They demanded for the appointment of a well-educated Paramount Chief elected by the majority of the Agikuyu.
- Wanted hut tax abolished and other taxes reduced
- They advocated for the growing of coffee and other cash crops by Africans.
- To work towards the restoration of alienated African land.
- To pressurize the colonial government to abolish racial segregation.
- Respect of African culture & customs e.g. Circumcision/polygamy
- Agitating release of political prisoners e.g. Harry Thuku.
In 1927, KCA relocated its headquarters from Murang’a to Nairobi in order to link up with other Kenyan elites. In 1928, Jomo Kenyatta became its Secretary- General, taking over from James Beauttah who had been transferred from Nairobi in an act of sabotage by the government. Kenyatta started the Association newspaper, Muigwithania which was instrumental in reviving the cultural values of the Agikuyu.
When the Hilton Young Commission was formed in 1927 to look into the question of the federation of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, KCA through Jomo Kenyatta presented the following demands to it;
- Introduction of free primary education for Africans.
- Provision of secondary and higher education for Africans.
- Abolition of kipande system
- Appointment of Africans to LEGCO
- Release of Harry Thuku
- Giving of Title Deeds to Africans as a guarantee against any further land alienation.
- Rejection of the proposed East Africa Federation
KCA sent Jomo Kenyatta, accompanied by Parmenas Mukiri, to present Agikuyu grievances in 1929 to the colonial office in London. It also helped kikuyu elders in preparing evidence to the Kenya Land Commission in 1931.
Rivalry for power within the KCA between 1931 and 1938 nearly rocked the association. The Association was banned in 1940 alongside others.
Kavirondo Taxpayers and Welfare Association.
It started as Young Kavirondo Association (YKA) in December 1921 at a Baraza held in Ludha, central Nyanza, by mission educated Luo and Luhyia men. The meeting was meant to discuss issues affecting African communities.
The official of the Association were Jonathan Okwiri (chairman), Simon Nyende (Treasurer), Benjamin Owuor (secretary), Rueben Omulo, Ezekiel Apindi, George Samuel Okoth, Mathayo Otieno, Joel Omino and Jolmeo Okaka.
The demands of the YKA included;
- They were demanding for addressing of the problem of change of the status of Kenya from a protectorate to colonial territory.
- Demanded for a government school to be built in central Nyanza.
- Demanded for a self- government for nyanza province with a separate legislative council and an elected African president.
- They were opposed to forced labour and labour camps.
- An end to land alienation.
- Creation of the position of paramount chief for central and southern Nyanza, just like Mumias was for northern Nyanza.
- Removal of Kipande System.
- Demanded to be given title deeds for their land.
- Wanted hut tax removed.
- The advocated for better wages.
In 1923, however, government, alarmed by the mobilization level of YKA in Nyanza, compromised its leadership and Jonathan Okwiri handed over chairmanship to Archdeacon Owen fearing the banning of the association the way EAA had been.
Under Owen YKA changed its name to KTWA with its emphasis shifting from political grievances to social grievances focusing on killing rats, digging latrines and keeping compounds clean. It also adopted the use of written memoranda in expressing their grievances.
All Nyanza chiefs became Vice-presidents of the association under its new constitution. In 1931, the association split up into Luo and Luyia Factions due to disagreements. The Abaluhyia faction formed the North Kavirondo Central Association that had close links with the KCA. It was formed with the objective of stopping any further land alienation for European use without compensation, especially after the 1930s Kakamega Gold rush.
By 1944, many of the top leaders of the KTWA had been co-opted into the colonial administration with Okwiri becoming a chief. Benjamin Owuor, Nyende and Okwiri were made members of the LNC in central Nyanza. KWTA was therefore weakened and became extinct in 1944.
Ukamba Members Association
The leaders who founded this association were closely associated with East African Association of Harry Thuku. For example, James Mwanthi, Ali Kilonzi and Muhamed Sheikh.
Reasons for the formation of Ukamba Members Association
- The Akamba wanted to fight against land alienation for European ranchers causing shortage of land for grazing.
- To oppose the colonial policy of de-stocking who argued that overstocking was responsible for soil erosion in Kitui and Machakos regions. In 1936, the Liebigs Group established a meat processing plant to effect the de-stocking policy.
- To oppose heavy taxation.
- To represent the Akamba people’s interests.
- To fight for the Akamba rights and freedoms
On 28th July 1938, UMA members including women and children demonstrated and marched to Nairobi with their cattle to seek audience with the governor over destocking and grazing policies. They staged a sit in Nairobi for 6 weeks led by Muindi Mbingu until the governor conceded to their demands at a meeting in Machakos.
However, their leader, Muindi Mbingu was arrested in September 1938 and deported to Lamu until 1946. The Association was banned at the beginning of World War II.
Problems that faced UMA in its operations.
- The colonial government had a negative attitude towards the activities of the association. This discouraged open participation.
- Arrest of their leader Muindi Mbingu and his deportation to Lamu demoralized the movement.
- The Association alongside others was banned, with the World War II looming.
The Association was formed in 1943 with Noah Mwana Sele as president, Muhamed bin Mwichande as vice president, E.W. Timothy as secretary General and H.G.Banks as honorary treasurer. Other officials were Muhamed bin Omar, Enoch Benjamin and H. Harrison.
Demands of Coast Africa Association.
- The demanded for improved education and the general welfare of Africans in the coastal region
- The elevation of Shimo la Tewa to a high school.
- The establishment of evening classes in the region so as to give African adults a chance to pursue basic western education.
- to protest inadequate health care services for the Africans.
- They were demanding for appointment of Africans as administrators.
- They demanded that tax collected from African drinks be used to develop African rural areas.
- They demanded for the revocation of allocation of Mijikenda land to Asians and Arabs.
- They demanded for African representation of Coast region in the LEGCO in 1947.
- a) The departure of their leaders Francis Khamisi and Ronald Ngala who joined the Mombasa African democratic union and the LEGCO.
- b) Leadership wrangles based on ethnic consideration.
- c) Shortage of funds to run the activities of the association.
Taita hills Association
Its objectives were;
- To achieve equal political status with whites and Asians.
- To help the Taita community to advance.
- To protest the destocking policy. Most of the fertile land of the community had been occupied by European settlers who were growing coffee on it.
- Oppose the plan to relocate the Wada Wida people from Taita hills to Samburu to create room for settlers.
- They were opposed to the kipande system and forced labour. The Europeans forced the Wataita to work on coffee plantations and ferry the coffee over long distances for low wages.
In 1939, Woresho Kolandi Mengo, Jimmy Mwambichi and Paul Chumbo took over his course and established THA with the help of KCA leadership.
- The association succeeded in stopping the government’s plan to relocate the Wada Wida people from Taita hills to Samburu to create room for settlers.
- The colonial government stopped the de-stocking plan among the Wataita.
- The government revised the Taita reserve boundaries and reduced the land initially carved for European settlers.
- It failed to attract prominent personalities I Tata.
- It lacked support of all the African groups in the region. For example the Wataveta and Wagisiga were reluctant to join THA.
- The association was banned alongside others in May 1940.
- Their leader Mwambichi was deported after being arrested.
- Their members were subjected to harassment by the colonial government, especially arresting and dispersing demonstrators.
- The organizations were demoralized through the deportation of the leaders like Thuku (EAA). Muindi Mbingu (UMA) and Mwambichi (THA).
- The associations experienced political wrangles between members as witnessed in KCA between 1931 1nd 1839 and CAA upon departure of its two key leaders.
- Many of the leaders of the organizations had little experience in running political parties and therefore mismanaged their offices.
- The organizations were faced with financial inadequacy. Many Africans were experiencing financial problems due to land alienation, taxation and poor working conditions and therefore could not adequately contribute to the associations.
- There was a lot of disunity since most organizations were ethnic-based
- They lacked a national outlook since they were ethnic (tribal based/oriented/urban based). Most of them were confined to one or two ethnic communities except EAA.
- Most of them received material and moral support from the Asians
- Mission-Educated African young men led them. For example, Harry Thuku, Okwiri and Mwambichi.
- They were formed in response to socio-economic and land problems of various ethnic groups.
- They all agitated for an end to European exploitation and oppression rather than demand for political independence.
- Most of them did not attract large membership due to their ethnic tendency.
- They were non-militant and tended to be moderate and their demanded.
- They were characterized by squabbles over leadership.
- They provided political education to the African communities through their political rallies.
- They communicated the communities’ feelings to the colonial government through publications, memoranda or speeches.
- They defended the African cultures against further erosion by the European missionaries. For example KCA defended female circumcision among agikuyu.
- They re-awakened the masses by making them conscious of the political situation in the country.
- Some succeeded in to stop further land alienation by restraining the Europeans from displacing the Africans to the reserves. For example THA succeeded in stopping the government’s plan to relocate the Wada Wida people from Taita hills to Samburu to create room for settlers.
- The played the role of trade Unionism by fighting for the welfare of the workers in the absence of formal trade unions.
- They publicized Africans’ grievances to the international community. For Example, the role played by Jomo Kenyatta on behalf of KCA.
- They pioneered in the growth of nationalism by forging inter-community relations in the struggle for independence.
EMERGENCE OF INDEPENDENT CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS MOVEMENT IN KENYA.
Reasons why independent churches and schools emerged in Kenya.
- The desire by majority of Africans to retain their cultural values while at the same time c converting to Christianity. Many were unhappy with the western influence of Christian missionaries who taught against traditional customs.
- Africans were unhappy with the 3Rs style of education in mission schools which only prepared them for low positions in government or employment on European farms and homes. They desired to be equal to Europeans and Asians.
- Independent schools emerged as a reaction against colonial domination and exploitation in terms of taxation, kipande, forced labour and racial discrimination.
- Africans desired leadership in their own churches instead of being led by European missionaries whom they viewed as agents of colonialism.
- The role played by Africans like John Owalo and Elijah Masinde who claimed to have received divine calls to begin independent churches.
- Some Africans felt dissatisfied with the interpretation of the scriptures. The Holy Spirit Church, for example, broke away on this account.
- Some churches were formed to allow Africans to express their Christianity freely through dancing, singing and drum beating which many mission churches did not accommodate.
- Characteristics of independent churches and schools.
- All of them accommodated African cultural values.
- Both churches and schools valued Christianity and western education but were against the westernizing influence by missionaries.
- Africans held positions of leadership in the churches and schools.
- Most Churches and schools worked closely with the African political association.
John Owalo is credited for leading in the establishment of independent churches in nyanza. He stared as a Roman Catholic, then joined the Church of Scotland mission (CSM) at Kikuyu before moving to the CMS first in Nairobi, then defected to Maseno.
The reason why Owalo suffered from denominational defection is because he was seeking for a mission church that accommodated African cultural values and where Africans could be given a say I terms of leadership and worship.
In 1907, Owalo claimed to have received a direct call from God with instructions to begin his own church. Though CMS at Maseno dismissed him as a ‘lunatic’, the colonial authority (Nyanza PC John Ainsworth) granted Owalo permission to start his own mission. In 1910, he founded the Nomiya Luo Church, which became the first independent church in Kenya. Owalo proclaimed himself as a prophet equating similar to Jesus.
Other independent churches in Nyanza included;
- Dini ya Roho (Holy Spirit Church) founded among the Luhyia in 1927 as a breakaway from the Friends African Mission. The members claimed to speak in tongues and believed in baptism by the ‘holy spirit’,
- Joroho church founded by Alfayo Odongo Mango in 1932 among the Luo. It was similar to Dini ya Roho.
- The Christian Universal Evangelical Union founded in 1938 In Siaya by Ismael Noo, a school teacher linked to the Anglican Church at Maseno. He began off as one of the leaders of the revival movement at Maseno, which emphasized salvation by the blood of Jesus and public confession of sin. His movement insisted that men and women should have sexual intercourse since they were saved. His church attracted many women and soon he was accused of infidelity with people's’ wives.
The independent churches and schools movement in central Kenya
It is behind this backdrop that independent churches and schools emerged in central Kenya.
Kikuyu Independent schools.
Kikuyu elders out of the desire for western education for their children, without necessarily being Europeanized, set up independent schools. In 1913, a Kikuyu elder, Mukunga wa Njehu, donated land at Gaithieko, Kiambu where the first independent school In central kenya was built. In 1925, another school had been built and registered at Githunguri.
The independent Schools Movement emerged in the 1920s as a result of the expulsion from mission schools of the children of the supporters of female circumcision. The two bodies that emerged as a consequence were Kikuyu Independent Schools Association (KISA) and the Kikuyu Karinga Educational Association (KKEA)
The Kikuyu Independent Schools Association.
The Body was closely associated with the Independent Pentecostal Church and was predominantly in Murang’a, Nyeri and Embu.
Following a showdown over female circumcision, the kikuyu elders got permission from the DC to build a prayer House around Gituamba on land donated by two elders, Kagere Gatundu and Gathai Gachohi of Thiru sub-location.
Between 1929 and 1932, a school was set up at the church. This success inspired the emergence of similar churches and schools in Mariira, Kahiti and Gakarara in Kandara, Murang’a.
In 1934, KISA was established to coordinate the efficient running of these schools with its leaders including Daudi Maina Kiragu, Musa Muriithi, Hezekiah Gachui, Peter Gathecha and Johana Njoroge.
The Association had the responsibility of establishing more schools and maintaining them as well as mobilizing funds for teacher training programmes. Their activities got the support of the colonial authorities which even permitted establishment of more schools that must be registered at the DO’s office.
By 1935, KISA had established 34 independent schools with an enrolment of 2,518 pupils. Similar schools emerged in the Rift Valley among the kikuyu squatters.
Challenges encountered by KISA.
- There were inadequate funds to support the large number of pupils and schools.
- Many teachers were untrained.
- Many of the KISA leaders lacked proper management skills.
- Mission schools fought the efforts of KISA leaders.
- There were disagreements among KISA leaders where some demanded for money for the land they had donated for the schools.
In 1937 after Archbishop Alexander had left, Daudi Maina Kiragu and Harrison Gachukia Kimanga broke away and formed the African Independent Pentecostal Church which they claimed was independent from external influence. In 1938, KISA named their church the Independent Pentecostal Church.
By 1952, at the time of its banning, KISA had 168 schools with an enrolment of 60,000 pupils in central Kenya and rift valley.
Kikuyu Karinga Educational Association.
The association emerged out of a split at the Gituamba between the Murang’a group and the - Kiambu members who were radical and were more closely associated with KCA.
The term ‘Karinga’ means ‘pure’ implying unpolluted kikuyu customs and values. KKEA was opposed to all forms of cooperation with either the missionaries or the colonial authority. By 1940, it had established 12 schools in Kiambu and 11 in the rift valley. By 1952, it had established schools at Moshi and Arusha in Tanganyika. It established its own church in 1952(the African Orthodox Church of Kenya), relying on church ministers trained at Gituamba seminary. It was led by Arthur Gathuna and Philip Kiande. The Association was banned in 1952 after declaration of a State of Emergency.
In 1939, the Kenya Teachers Training College was established at Githunguri, Kiambu, to train teachers for the independent schools. Mbiyu Koinange was the first principal. It was closed in 1952 alongside other independent schools.
Problems faced by independent churches and schools.
- Poor leadership as many churches and schools were led by people without any management experience. Many of them lacked trained personnel who could run them efficiently.
- They faced a lot of hostility from the colonial government and missionaries who constantly harassed them.
- Ideological differences among their leaders on which name to adopt. There were also many leadership squabbles as all founders wanted to be recognized.
- The schools were forced to follow the official syllabus and become members of the District Education Board.
- The independent churches and schools competed with mission churches and schools for followers with the later declaring war on certain African practices