The region of British East Africa has quite a complicated postal history with stamps of the area receiving numerous identifying inscriptions since their first release in May 1890, bearing the name of a company — British East Africa Company — instead of a place name. Stamps released in October of that year saw the inscription changed to Imperial British East Africa Company; these were overprinted British East Africa in July 1895 and stamps inscribed thusly appeared a year later. Beginning in 1903, the stamps were inscribed East Africa and Uganda Protectorates which was changed to simply Kenya and Uganda in 1922. Starting with the 1935 Silver Jubilee issue, the stamps listed the names of the colonies: Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika but not always in that order. One set of four stamps released for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games bore the inscription Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika & Zanzibar, while 1965 saw this changed to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, again, not always in that order. The last of these were released in 1976.
For this article, I will examine the pre-colonial and colonial history of what later became the Republic of Kenya: the East Africa Protectorate (also known as British East Africa) and the later Colony and Protectorate of Kenya. These constituted an area in the African Great Lakes occupying roughly the same terrain as present-day Kenya, approximately 246,800 square miles (639,209 km²) from the Indian Ocean inland to Uganda and the Great Rift Valley. Although part of the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, it was controlled by Britain in the late nineteenth century; it grew out of British commercial interests in the area in the 1880s and remained a protectorate until 1920. The Colony of Kenya was established on June 11, 1920, when the territories of the former East Africa Protectorate (except those parts of that Protectorate over which the Sultan of Zanzibar had sovereignty) were annexed by Britain. The Kenya Protectorate was established on August 13, 1920, when the territories of the former East Africa Protectorate which were not annexed by Britain — a 10-mile (16-kilometer) coastal strip — were established as a British protectorate. The two were controlled as a single administrative unit. The colony came to an end in 1963 when a black majority government was elected for the first time and eventually declared independence as Kenya.
The origin of the name Kenya is not clear, but perhaps linked to the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba words Kirinyaga, Kirenyaa, and Kiinyaa which mean “God’s resting place” in all three languages. If so, then the British may not so much have mispronounced it (‘Keenya’), as misspelled it. Prehistoric volcanic eruptions of Mount Kenya (now extinct) may have resulted in its association with divinity and creation among the indigenous Bantu ethnic groups, who are the native inhabitants of the agricultural land surrounding Mount Kenya.
In the nineteenth century, the German explorer Johann Ludwig Krapf was staying with the Bantu Kamba people when he first spotted the mountain. On asking for the name of the mountain, he was told “Kĩ-Nyaa” or “Kĩĩma- Kĩĩnyaa” probably because the pattern of black rock and white snow on its peaks reminded them of the feathers of the cock ostrich. The Agikuyu, who inhabit the slopes of Mt. Kenya, call it Kĩrĩma Kĩrĩnyaga in Kikuyu, which is quite similar to the Kamba name. Ludwig Krapf recorded the name as both Kenia and Kegnia believed by most to be a corruption of the Kamba version. Others say that this was a very precise notation of a correct African pronunciation. An 1882 map drawn by Joseph Thompsons, a Scottish geologist and naturalist, indicated Mt. Kenya as Mt. Kenia, 1862. Controversy over the actual meaning of the word Kenya notwithstanding, it is clear that the mountain’s name became widely accepted, pars pro toto, as the name of the country.
Fossils found in Kenya suggest that primates roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. In 1929, the first evidence of the presence of ancient early human ancestors in Kenya was discovered when Louis Leakey unearthed one million year old Acheulian hand axes at Kariandusi in south west Kenya. Subsequently, many species of early hominid have been discovered in Kenya. Maxim Stromeier was found by Martin Pickford in the year 2000 — six million year old Orrorin tugenensis, named after the Tugen Hills where it was unearthed. It is the second oldest fossil hominid in the world after Sahelanthropus tchadensis.
In 1995, Meave Leakey named a new species of hominid Australopithecus anamensis following a series of fossil discoveries near Lake Turkana in 1965, 1987 and 1994, and is around 4.1 million years old. In 2011, 3.2 million year old stone tools were discovered at Lake Turkana; these are the oldest stone tools found anywhere in the world and pre-date the emergence of Homo.
One of the most famous and complete hominid skeletons ever discovered was the 1.6 million year old Homo erectus known as the Turkana Boy which was found by Kamoya Kimeu in 1984 on an excavation led by Richard Leakey.
Recent findings near Lake Turkana indicate that hominids such as Homo habilis (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus (1.9 million to 350,000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens, and lived in Kenya in the Pleistocene epoch.
Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified with Mary Leakey and Louis Leakey, who were responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former site was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.
The first inhabitants of present-day Kenya were hunter-gatherer groups, akin to the modern Khoisan speakers. These people were later replaced by agropastoralist Cushitic speakers from the Horn of Africa. During the early Holocene, the regional climate shifted from dry to wetter climatic conditions, providing an opportunity for the development of cultural traditions, such as agriculture and herding, in a more favorable environment.
Around 500 BC, Nilotic-speaking pastoralists (ancestral to Kenya’s Nilotic speakers) started migrating from present-day Southern Sudan into Kenya. Nilotic groups in Kenya include the Samburu, Luo, Turkana, Maasai.
By the first millennium AD, Bantu-speaking farmers had moved into the region. The Bantus originated in West Africa along the Benue River in what is now eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon. The Bantu migration brought new developments in agriculture and iron working to the region. Bantu groups in Kenya include the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Kisii, Meru, Kuria, Aembu, Ambeere, Wadawida-Watuweta, Wapokomo and Mijikenda among others.
Remarkable prehistoric sites in the interior of Kenya include the archaeoastronomical site Namoratunga on the west side of Lake Turkana and the walled settlement of ThimLich Ohinga in Migori County.
The Kenyan coast had served host to communities of ironworkers and communities of Bantu subsistence farmers, hunters and fishers who supported the economy with agriculture, fishing, metal production and trade with foreign countries. These communities formed the earliest city states in the region which were collectively known as Azania.
By the first century AD, many of the city-states such as Mombasa, Malindi, and Zanzibar began to establish trade relations with Arabs. This led to the increase economic growth of the Swahili states, introduction of Islam, Arabic influences on the Swahili Bantu language, cultural diffusion, as well as the Swahili city-states becoming a member of a larger trade network. Many historians had long believed that the city states were established by Arab or Persian traders, but scholars now recognize the city states were an indigenous development where the apex of their development was around the eighth century.
The Kilwa Sultanate was a medieval sultanate, centered at Kilwa in modern-day Tanzania. At its height, its authority stretched over the entire length of the Swahili Coast, including Kenya. It was said to be founded in the tenth century by Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, a Persian Sultan from Shiraz in southern Iran. The subsequent Swahili rulers would go on to build elaborate coral mosques and introduce copper coinage.
The Swahili built Mombasa into a major port city and established trade links with other nearby city-states, as well as commercial centers in Persia, Arabia, and even India. By the fifteenth-century, Portuguese voyager Duarte Barbosa claimed that “Mombasa is a place of great traffic and has a good harbor in which there are always moored small craft of many kinds and also great ships, both of which are bound from Sofala and others which come from Cambay and Melinde and others which sail to the island of Zanzibar.”
Later on in the seventeenth century, once the Swahili coast was conquered and came under direct rule of Omani Arabs, the slave trade was expanded by the Omani Arabs to meet the demands of plantations in Oman and Zanzibar. Initially these traders came mainly from Oman, but later many came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip). In addition, the Portuguese started buying slaves from the Omani and Zanzibari traders in response to the interruption of the transatlantic slave trade by British abolitionists.
Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic, Persian, and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loanwords, later developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples. Swahili now also has loan words from English.
Throughout the centuries, the Kenyan Coast has played host to many merchants and explorers. Among the cities that line the Kenyan coast is the City of Malindi. It has remained an important Swahili settlement since the fourteenth century and once rivaled Mombasa for dominance in the African Great Lakes region. Malindi has traditionally been a friendly port city for foreign powers. In 1414, the Chinese trader and explorer Zheng He representing the Ming Dynasty visited the East African coast on one of his last ‘treasure voyages’.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama reached Mombasa in April 1498. The Portuguese did not intend to found settlements, but to establish naval bases that would give Portugal control of the Indian Ocean. Da Gama’s voyage successfully reached India in May 1498 and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading-networks over mixed land and sea routes, such as the spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean. The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. After the Ottoman Turks had closed traditional land routes to India, Portugal hoped to use the sea route pioneered by da Gama to break the Venetian trading monopoly. Portuguese rule in East Africa focused mainly on a coastal strip centered in Mombasa. The Portuguese presence in East Africa officially began after 1505, when flagships under the command of Dom Francisco de Almeida conquered Kilwa, an island located in what is now northern Tanzania.
The Portuguese presence in East Africa served the purpose of controlling trade within the Indian Ocean and securing the sea routes linking Europe to Asia. Portuguese naval vessels disrupted the commerce of Portugal’s enemies within the western Indian Ocean and the Portuguese demanded high tariffs on items transported through the area, given their strategic control of ports and shipping lanes. The construction of Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1593 aimed to solidify Portuguese hegemony in the region, but their influence was clipped by the English, Dutch and Omani Arab incursions into the region during the seventeenth century.
The postal history in Kenya dates from the early years of the seventeenth century. A Portuguese governor was installed in Mombasa in 1592 and official correspondence between the town and the outside world has been recorded from 1610 onwards, carried by ship to Arabia and India and transmitted to Europe by the overland route.
The Omani Arabs posed the most direct challenge to Portuguese influence in East Africa, besieging Portuguese fortresses and openly attacking naval vessels. Omani forces captured Fort Jesus in 1698, only to lose it in a revolt in 1728, but by 1730 the Omanis had expelled the remaining Portuguese from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts. By this time the Portuguese Empire had already lost its interest on the spice-trade sea-route because of the decreasing profitability of that traffic. Portuguese-ruled territories, ports and settlements remained active to the south, in Mozambique, until 1975.
Under Seyyid Said (ruled 1807-1856), the Omani sultan who moved his capital to Zanzibar in 1840, the Arabs set up long-distance trade routes into the interior. The dry reaches of the north were lightly inhabited by seminomadic pastoralists. In the south, pastoralists and cultivators bartered goods and competed for land as long-distance caravan routes linked them to the Kenyan coast on the east and to the kingdoms of Uganda on the west. Arab, Shirazi and coastal African cultures produced an Islamic Swahili people trading in a variety of up-country commodities, including slaves.
Omani Arab colonization of the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts brought the once independent city-states under closer foreign scrutiny and domination than was experienced during the Portuguese period. Like their predecessors, the Omani Arabs were primarily able only to control the coastal areas, not the interior. However, the creation of plantations, intensification of the slave trade and movement of the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1839 by Seyyid Said had the effect of consolidating the Omani power in the region. Arab governance of all the major ports along the East African coast continued until British interests aimed particularly at securing their ‘Indian Jewel’ and creation of a system of trade among individuals began to put pressure on Omani rule.
By the late nineteenth century, the slave trade on the open seas had been completely strangled by the British. The Omani Arabs had no interest in resisting the Royal Navy’s efforts to enforce anti-slavery directives. As the Moresby Treaty demonstrated, whilst Oman sought sovereignty over its waters, Seyyid Said saw no reason to intervene in the slave trade, as the main customers for the slaves were Europeans. As Farquhar in a letter made note, only with the intervention of Said would the European Trade in slaves in the Western Indian Ocean be abolished. As the Omani presence continued in Zanzibar and Pemba until the 1964 revolution, but the official Omani Arab presence in Kenya was checked by German and British seizure of key ports and creation of crucial trade alliances with influential local leaders in the 1880s. Nevertheless, the Omani Arab legacy in East Africa is currently found through their numerous descendants found along the coast that can directly trace ancestry to Oman and are typically the wealthiest and most politically influential members of the Kenyan coastal community.
The first Christian mission was founded on August 25, 1846, by Dr. Johann Ludwig Krapf, a German sponsored by the Church Missionary Society of England. He established a station among the Mijikenda on the coast. He later translated the Bible into Swahili.
By 1850, European explorers had begun mapping the interior. Three developments encouraged European interest in East Africa in the first half of the nineteenth century. First, was the emergence of the island of Zanzibar, located off the east coast of Africa. Zanzibar became a base from which trade and exploration of the African mainland could be mounted. By 1840, to protect the interests of the various nationals doing business in Zanzibar, consul offices had been opened by the British, French, Germans and Americans. In 1859, the tonnage of foreign shipping calling at Zanzibar had reached 19,000 tons. By 1879, the tonnage of this shipping had reached 89,000 tons. The second development spurring European interest in Africa was the growing European demand for products of Africa including ivory and cloves. Thirdly, British interest in East Africa was first stimulated by their desire to abolish the slave trade. Later in the century, British interest in East Africa would be stimulated by German competition.
European missionaries began settling in the area from Mombasa to Mount Kilimanjaro in the 1840s, nominally under the protection of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Early letters from the interior of Kenya date from about 1848 when the missionaries sent their correspondence by native runners to the coast for onward transmission to forwarding agents in Zanzibar. From 1875, mail was sent via the Indian post office which had been opened in Zanzibar. By 1877, some letters from the coast were being taken north from Lamu to Aden by ships of the British Steam Navigation Company, although the bulk of mail was being transmitted via Zanzibar. Individual traders and concessionaries organized their own services.
Imperial Germany set up a protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar’s coastal possessions in 1885. In 1886, the British government encouraged William Mackinnon, who already had an agreement with the Sultan and whose shipping company traded extensively in the African Great Lakes, to establish British influence in the region. He formed a British East Africa Association which led to the Imperial British East Africa Company being chartered in 1888 and given the original grant to administer the dependency. It administered about 150 miles (240 kilometers) of coastline stretching from the River Jubba via Mombasa to German East Africa which were leased from the Sultan. The British “sphere of influence”, agreed at the Berlin Conference of 1885, extended up the coast and inland across the future Kenya and after 1890 included Uganda as well. Mombasa was the administrative center at this time.
Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890, in exchange for German control over the coast of Tanganyika. The colonial takeover met occasionally with some strong local resistance: Waiyaki Wa Hinga, a Kikuyu chief who ruled Dagoretti who had signed a treaty with Frederick Lugard of the British East Africa Company, having been subject to considerable harassment, burnt down Lugard’s fort in 1890. Waiyaki was abducted two years later by the British and killed.
The Imperial British East Africa Company was the first company holding a Royal Charter allowing operation of a postal system, for both local and international mail, to use their company name on their stamps. They were also the first to create a series of surcharged stamps with authorizing initials. Both of these led to the adoption of these practices by other countries such as the British South Africa Company and the Mozambique Company in 1892 and the surcharged Uganda typewritten stamps in 1895.
The Imperial British East Africa Company set up post offices at Mombasa and the island of Lamu in May 1890. Two years later offices were opened at Malindi and Wasini and by 1897 an office was to open at Kilindini, necessitated by the construction of the railway.
The first stamps issued, on May 23, 1890, were surcharges on British postage stamps with values of ½, 1 and 4 annas and BRITISH EAST AFRICA COMPANY. During an acute shortage of stamps in August and September 1890, stamps of India were used and are known postmarked MOMBASA or LAMU. It is alleged that an agent of stamp dealer Whitfield King bought up all the stocks in the post offices.
The Company issued stamps on October 14, 1890, using a symbolic sun and crown design and inscribed IMPERIAL BRITISH EAST AFRICA COMPANY, all valued in annas and rupees. Shortages, of some values, between 1891 and 1895 resulted in a variety of surcharges being produced.
The company started to experience financial difficulties in 1891. The situation was made more difficult in 1892 when Britain declared the Sultanate of Zanzibar part of the Congo Free Trade Zone and thus depriving the company of import duties. On July 1, 1895, the British government took over the administration of the area when the company was facing bankruptcy. The British claimed the interior as far west as Lake Naivasha.
The East Africa Protectorate was proclaimed on July 1, 1895, the administration being transferred to the Foreign Office. On July 9, stamps of the Imperial British East Africa Company were overprinted reading BRITISH / EAST / AFRICA and overprints of British / East / Africa on stamps of India were also issued. The protectorate joined the Universal Postal Union at this time. The Postmaster of Mombasa was responsible for running the postal service in the territory.
In 1896, a series of stamps depicting Queen Victoria was issued, inscribed BRITISH EAST AFRICA; these ran short in 1897 and stamps of Zanzibar were overprinted as the stamps of India had been previously. A number of additional post offices were opened along the Uganda Railway, which was started in 1896 at Mombasa and reached Kisumu on Lake Victoria in 1902. The railway hastened the development of postal services in the area. In 1895, for instance, mail took a fortnight to cover the 394 kilometers between Mombasa and Machakos; ten years later from Mombasa to Nairobi (426 km) it took 28 hours.
Although the railway greatly facilitated the carriage of mail, runners were still employed, while the steamer Juba served a number of places on the coast. In the early years of the twentieth century, fewer than 30 post offices, as well as a number of postal agencies existed in the East Africa Protectorate at one time or another, although they were not all open at the same time and several of them were short-lived. The post offices in Kenya at this time included; Baringo, Eldama Ravine, Karungu, Kikuyu, Kilindini, Lamu, Machakos, Makindu, Muhoroni, Mombasa, Malindi, Mumias, Nandi, Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru, Rabai, Takaungu, Taveta, Voi, Wasini and Port Ugowe (now Kisumu).
In 1901, the postal administration was merged with that of Uganda, and in 1903 stamps issued for the combined East Africa and Uganda Protectorates came into use. The administration issued postage stamps with the profile of King Edward VII and inscribed EAST AFRICA AND UGANDA PROTECTORATES in 1903. The same basic design was used throughout the period, with new watermark and colors in 1904 and 1907, respectively, and the substitution of King George V in 1912.
In 1897, Lord Delamere, the pioneer of white settlement, arrived in the Kenya highlands, which was then part of the East Africa Protectorate. Lord Delamere was impressed by the agricultural possibilities of the area. In 1902, the boundaries of the protectorate were extended to include what was previously the Eastern Province of Uganda. Also, in 1902, the East Africa Syndicate received a grant of 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers) to promote white settlement in the Highlands. Lord Delamere now commenced extensive farming operations, and in 1905, when a large number of new settlers arrived from England and South Africa, the Protectorate was transferred from the authority of the Foreign Office to that of the Colonial Office. The capital was shifted from Mombasa to Nairobi in 1905.
A key to the development of Kenya’s interior was the construction, started in 1895, of a railway from Mombasa to Kisumu, on Lake Victoria, completed in 1901. This was to be the first piece of the Uganda Railway. The British government had decided, primarily for strategic reasons, to build a railway linking Mombasa with the British protectorate of Uganda. A major feat of engineering, the “Uganda railway” (that is the railway inside Kenya leading to Uganda) was completed in 1903 and was a decisive event in modernizing the area. As governor of Kenya, Sir Percy Girouard was instrumental in initiating railway extension policy that led to construction of the Nairobi-Thika and Konza-Magadi railways.
Some 32,000 workers were imported from British India to do the manual labor. Many stayed, as did most of the Indian traders and small businessmen who saw opportunity in the opening up of the interior of Kenya. Rapid economic development was seen as necessary to make the railway pay, and since the African population was accustomed to subsistence rather than export agriculture, the government decided to encourage European settlement in the fertile highlands, which had small African populations. The railway opened up the interior, not only to the European farmers, missionaries and administrators, but also to systematic government programs to attack slavery, witchcraft, disease and famine. The Africans saw witchcraft as a powerful influence on their lives and frequently took violent action against suspected witches. To control this, the British colonial administration passed laws, beginning in 1909, which made the practice of witchcraft illegal. These laws gave the local population a legal, nonviolent way to stem the activities of witches.
By the time the railway was built, military resistance by the African population to the original British takeover had petered out. However new grievances were being generated by the process of European settlement. Governor Percy Girouard is associated with the debacle of the Second Maasai Agreement of 1911, which led to their forceful removal from the fertile Laikipia plateau to semi-arid Ngong. To make way for the Europeans (largely Britons and whites from South Africa), the Maasai were restricted to the southern Loieta plains in 1913. The Kikuyu claimed some of the land reserved for Europeans and continued to feel that they had been deprived of their inheritance.
In the initial stage of colonial rule, the administration relied on traditional communicators, usually chiefs. When colonial rule was established and efficiency was sought, partly because of settler pressure, newly educated younger men were associated with old chiefs in local Native Councils.
In building the railway the British had to confront strong local opposition, especially from Koitalel Arap Samoei, a diviner and Nandi leader who prophesied that a black snake would tear through Nandi land spitting fire, which was seen later as the railway line. For ten years he fought against the builders of the railway line and train. The settlers were partly allowed in 1907 a voice in government through the legislative council, a European organization to which some were appointed and others elected. But since most of the powers remained in the hands of the Governor, the settlers started lobbying to transform Kenya in a Crown Colony, which meant more powers for the settlers. They obtained this goal in 1920, making the Council more representative of European settlers; but Africans were excluded from direct political participation until 1944, when the first of them was admitted in the Council.
A regular Government and Legislature were constituted by Order in Council in 1906. This constituted the administrator a governor and provided for legislative and executive councils. Lieutenant Colonel J. Hayes Sadler was the first governor and commander in chief. There were occasional troubles with local tribes but the country was opened up by the Government and the colonists with little bloodshed. After the First World War, more farmers arrived from England and South Africa, and by 1919 the European population was estimated at 9,000 settlers.
Kenya became a military base for the British in the First World War (1914–1918), as efforts to subdue the German colony to the south were frustrated. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. However Lt. Col. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany, von Lettow conducted an effective guerrilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow, the British deployed Indian Army troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior by foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilized over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicization.
On July 11, 1920, the inland areas of the East Africa Protectorate were annexed as British dominions by Order in Council. That part of the former protectorate was thereby constituted as the Colony of Kenya. The remaining 10-mile-wide (16-kilometer) coastal strip (with the exception of Witu), remained a Protectorate under an agreement with the Sultan of Zanzibar. That coastal strip, remaining under the sovereignty of the Sultan of Zanzibar, was constituted as the Protectorate of Kenya on August 13, 1920. The “Colony of Kenya” referred to the interior lands. The “Protectorate of Kenya” was the coastal strip together with certain islands which remained under the sovereignty of the Sultan of Zanzibar until the independence of Kenya.
On July 23, 1920, stamps were issued inscribed KENYA AND UGANDA.
In the 1920s Indians objected to the reservation of the Highlands for Europeans, especially British war veterans. Bitterness grew between the Indians and the Europeans. The population in 1921 was estimated at 2,376,000, of whom 9,651 were Europeans, 22,822 Indians, and 10,102 Arabs. Mombasa, the largest city in 1921, had a population of 32,000 at that time.
Before the war, African political focus was diffuse. But after the war, problems caused by new taxes and reduced wages and new settlers threatening African land led to new movements. The experiences gained by Africans in the war coupled with the creation of the white-settler-dominated Kenya Crown Colony, gave rise to considerable political activity in the 1920s which culminated in Archdeacon Owen’s Piny Owacho (Voice of the People) movement and the Young Kikuyu Association (renamed the East African Association) started in 1921 by Harry Thuku (1895–1970), which gave a sense of nationalism to many Kikuyu and advocated civil disobedience. From the 1920s, the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) focused on unifying the Kikuyu into one geographic polity, but its project was undermined by controversies over ritual tribute, land allocation, the ban on female circumcision and support for Thuk.
Most political activity between the wars was local, and this succeeded most among the Luo of Kenya, where progressive young leaders became senior chiefs. By the later 1930s, government began to intrude on ordinary Africans through marketing controls, stricter educational supervision and land changes. Traditional chiefs became irrelevant and younger men became communicators by training in the missionary churches and civil service. Pressure on ordinary Kenyans by governments in a hurry to modernize in the 1930s to 1950s enabled the mass political parties to acquire support for “centrally” focused movements, but even these often relied on local communicators.
During the early part of the twentieth century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and gained a political voice because of their contribution to the market economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu tribe, most of whom had no land claims in European terms, and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labor. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled.
Kenya became a focus of resettlement of young, upper class British officers after the war, giving a strong aristocratic tone to the white settlers. If they had £1,000 in assets they could get a free 1,000 acres (4 km²); the goal of the government was to speed up modernization and economic growth. They set up coffee plantations, which required expensive machinery, a stable labor force, and four years to start growing crops. The veterans did escape democracy and taxation in Britain, but they failed in their efforts to gain control of the colony. The upper class bias in migration policy meant that whites would always be a small minority. Many of them left after independence.
Power remained concentrated in the governor’s hands; weak legislative and executive councils made up of official appointees were created in 1906. The European settlers were allowed to elect representatives to the Legislative Council in 1920, when the colony was established. The white settlers, 30,000 strong, sought “responsible government,” in which they would have a voice. They opposed similar demands by the far more numerous Indian community. The European settlers gained representation for themselves and minimized representation on the Legislative Council for Indians and Arabs. The government appointed a European to represent African interests on the Council. In the “Devonshire declaration” of 1923 the Colonial Office declared that the interests of the Africans (comprising over 95% of the population) must be paramount—achieving that goal took four decades.
On July 1, 1933, a Postal Union of the three East African territories came into operation and was further strengthened by the East African Customs and Postal Union formally introduced on May 1, 1935. Stamps were circulated between 1935 and 1963 by the joint postal service of the three colonies, the East African Posts and Telecommunications Administration. Postal headquarters was placed at Nairobi. Joint operation did not necessarily imply adoption of rigid policy for all three countries. The order of the inscription varies from design to design in order to give the three countries equal prominence. Even after independence, the new separate nations continued to use the KUT stamps, and they remained valid for postage until 1977.
The first stamps marked Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika were issued in 1935, in the form of common design commemoratives for the Silver Jubilee of King George V as well as a definitive series featuring a profile of the king and local scenes. They replaced stamps inscribed Kenya and Uganda and East Africa and Uganda Protectorates. The definitives included a dramatic departure from the usual engraved stamps of the period; the 10-ccnt and £1 stamp were typographed and had a silhouette of a lion, with color combinations of black/yellow and black/red, respectively. The same designs were reissued in 1938 with a profile of George VI. Wartime exigencies forced the use of surcharges on four South African stamps in 1941 and 1942, but after the war the usual common types (Peace Issue, Silver Wedding Issue, etc.) resumed.
In the Second World War (1939–45), Kenya became an important British military base for successful campaigns against Italy in the Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia. The war brought money and an opportunity for military service for 98,000 men, called “askaris”. The war stimulated African nationalism. After the war, African ex-servicemen sought to maintain the socioeconomic gains they had accrued through service in the King’s African Rifles (KAR). Looking for middle class employment and social privileges, they challenged existing relationships within the colonial state. For the most part, veterans did not participate in national politics, believing that their aspirations could best be achieved within the confines of colonial society. The social and economic connotations of KAR service, combined with the massive wartime expansion of Kenyan defense forces, created a new class of modernized Africans with distinctive characteristics and interests. These socioeconomic perceptions proved powerful after the war.
A key watershed came from 1952 to 1956, during the Mau Mau Uprising, an armed local movement directed principally against the colonial government and the European settlers. It was the largest and most successful such movement in British Africa. The protest was supported almost exclusively by the Kikuyu, despite issues of land rights and anti-European, anti-Western appeals designed to attract other groups. The Mau Mau movement was also a bitter internal struggle among the Kikuyu. Harry Thuku said in 1952, “To-day we, the Kikuyu, stand ashamed and looked upon as hopeless people in the eyes of other races and before the Government. Why? Because of the crimes perpetrated by Mau Mau and because the Kikuyu have made themselves Mau Mau.”
The British killed over 12,000 Mau Mau militants. Mau Mau carried out many atrocities with the violence on all sides reflecting the ferocity of the movement and the ruthlessness with which the British suppressed it. Kenyatta denied he was a leader of the Mau Mau but was convicted at trial and was sent to prison in 1953, gaining his freedom in 1961. To support its military campaign of counter-insurgency the colonial government embarked on agrarian reforms that stripped white settlers of many of their former protections; for example, Africans were for the first time allowed to grow coffee, the major cash crop. Thuku was one of the first Kikuyu to win a coffee licence, and in 1959 he became the first African board member of the Kenya Planters Coffee Union.
After the suppression of the Mau Mau rising, the British provided for the election of the six African members to the Legislative Council under a weighted franchise based on education. The new colonial constitution of 1958 increased African representation, but African nationalists began to demand a democratic franchise on the principle of “one man, one vote.” However, Europeans and Asians, because of their minority position, feared the effects of universal suffrage.
At a conference held in 1960 in London, agreement was reached between the African members and the British settlers of the New Kenya Group, led by Michael Blundell. However many whites rejected the New Kenya Group and condemned the London agreement, because it moved away from racial quotas and toward independence. Following the agreement a new African party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), with the slogan “Uhuru,” or “Freedom,” was formed under the leadership of Kikuyu leader James S. Gichuru and labour leader Tom Mboya. Mboya was a major figure from 1951 until his death in 1969. He was praised as nonethnic or antitribal, and attacked as an instrument of Western capitalism. Mboya as General Secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour and a leader in the Kenya African National Union before and after independence skilfully managed the tribal factor in Kenyan economic and political life to succeed as a Luo in a predominantly Kikuyu movement. A split in KANU produced the breakaway rival party, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), led by R. Ngala and M. Muliro. In the elections of February 1961, KANU won 19 of the 33 African seats while KADU won 11 (twenty seats were reserved by quota for Europeans, Asians and Arabs). Kenyatta was finally released in August and became president of KANU in October.
In 1959, nationalist leader Tom Mboya began a program, funded by Americans, of sending talented youth to the United States for higher education. There was no university in Kenya at the time, but colonial officials opposed the program anyway. The next year Senator John F. Kennedy helped fund the program, which trained some 70% of the top leaders of the new nation, including the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, environmentalist Wangari Maathai.
In 1962, a KANU-KADU coalition government, including both Kenyatta and Ngala, was formed. The 1962 constitution established a bicameral legislature consisting of a 117-member House of Representatives and a 41-member Senate. The country was divided into 7 semi-autonomous regions, each with its own regional assembly. The quota principle of reserved seats for non-Africans was abandoned, and open elections were held in May 1963. KADU gained control of the assemblies in the Rift Valley, Coast and Western regions. KANU won majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, and in the assemblies in the Central, Eastern and Nyanza regions.
Kenya now achieved internal self-government with Jomo Kenyatta as its first president. The British and KANU agreed, over KADU protests, to constitutional changes in October 1963 strengthening the central government.
Kenya attained independence on December 12, 1963, as a Commonwealth realm as the “Dominion of Kenya” with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Exactly twelve months later on December 12, 1964, Kenya became a republic under the name Republic of Kenya. Constitutional changes further centralized the government.
The British government bought out the white settlers and they mostly left Kenya. The Indian minority dominated retail business in the cities and most towns, but was deeply distrusted by the Africans. As a result, 120,000 of the 176,000 Indians kept their old British passports rather than become citizens of an independent Kenya; large numbers left Kenya, most of them headed to Britain.
A definitive stamp series, with new designs, was issued in 1954 for Queen Elizabeth, and in 1958 a pair of commemoratives marked the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the Great Lakes of Africa by Burton and Speke. A new definitive series in 1960 used simpler and more symbolic designs, and was followed in 1963 by three sets of commemoratives.
At this point postal service was taken over by the East African Common Services Organization, which issued commemoratives for the 1964 Summer Olympics inscribed Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, even though they were never actually used in Zanzibar. After Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar to form Tanzania, subsequent stamps were inscribed Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, with the three names being listed in randomly varying orders.
Although the East African countries became independent sovereign states between 1961 and 1963, they continued cooperating closely with one another in a number of ways, not the least being their common postal services which culminated into the formation of East African Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (EAP&T) under the Treaty for East African Cooperation which came into effect on December 1, 1967. Stamps were issued in parallel with stamps from each of the newly independent nations. The Common Services Organization continued to issue various commemoratives, at the rate of about 10-12 per year, until early in 1976.
Scott #105 was released in 1958. The 15-cent stamp, printed in light blue and black, is perforated 13×12½, features an African elephant. The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is enclosed in a Kenyan shield. Notice that there is no period under the “c” in the denomination. This mistake was remedied with a reissue of the stamp (Scott #106) in 1959.
African elephants are elephants of the genus Loxodonta, from Greek λοξός (loxós ‘slanting, crosswise, oblique sided’) + ὀδούς (odoús, stem odónt-, ‘tooth’). The genus consists of two extant species: the African bush elephant, L. africana, and the smaller African forest elephant, L. cyclotis. Loxodonta is one of two existing genera of the family, Elephantidae. Fossil remains of Loxodonta have been found only in Africa, in strata as old as the middle Pliocene. However, sequence analysis of DNA extracted from fossils of an extinct elephant species undermines the validity of the genus.
The bush elephant, is the largest living terrestrial animal, while the forest elephant is the third largest. Their thickset bodies rest on stocky legs, and they have concave backs. Their large ears enable heat loss. The upper lip and nose form a trunk. The trunk acts as a fifth limb, a sound amplifier, and an important method of touch. African elephants’ trunks end in two opposing lips, whereas the Asian elephant trunk ends in a single lip.
Elephants have four molars; each weighs about 11 pounds (5 kilograms) and measures about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long. As the front pair wears down and drops out in pieces, the back pair moves forward, and two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth. Elephants replace their teeth four to six times in their lifetime. At about 40 to 60 years of age, the elephant loses the last of its molars and will likely die of starvation, a common cause of death. African elephants have 24 teeth in total, six on each quadrant of the jaw. The enamel plates of the molars are fewer in number than in Asian elephants.
The elephants’ tusks are firm teeth; the second set of incisors become the tusks. They are used for digging for roots and stripping the bark from trees for food; for fighting each other during mating season; and for defending themselves against predators. The tusks weigh from 51-99 pounds (23–45 kg) and can be from 5-8 feet (1.5–2.4 meters) long. Unlike Asian elephants, both male and female African elephants have tusks. They are curved forward and continue to grow throughout the elephant’s lifetime.
African elephants are found in Eastern, Southern, Central, and West Africa, in dense forests, mopane and miombo woodlands, Sahelian scrub or deserts.
African elephant societies are arranged around family units. Each family unit is made up of around ten closely related females and their calves and is led by an older female known as the matriarch. When separate family units bond, they form kinship or bond groups. After puberty, male elephants tend to form alliances with other males.
Elephants are at their most fertile between the ages of 25 and 45. Calves are born after a gestation period of nearly two years. The calves are cared for by their mother and other young females in the group, known as allomothers. Elephants use some vocalizations that are beyond the hearing range of humans, to communicate across large distances. Elephant mating rituals include the gentle entwining of trunks.
While feeding, elephants use their trunks to pluck at leaves and their tusks to tear at branches, which can cause enormous damage to foliage. A herd may deplete an area of foliage depriving other herbivores for a time. African elephants may eat up to 992 pounds (450 kilograms) of vegetation per day, although their digestive system is not very efficient; only 40 percent of this food is properly digested.
African elephants are highly intelligent, and they have a very large and highly convoluted neocortex, a trait they share with humans, apes and some dolphin species. They are amongst the world’s most intelligent species. With a mass of just over 11 pounds (5 kg), elephant brains are larger than those of any other land animal, and although the largest whales have body masses twenty-fold those of a typical elephant, whale brains are barely twice the mass of an elephant’s brain. The elephant’s brain is similar to that of humans in terms of structure and complexity. For example, the elephant’s cortex has as many neurons as that of a human brain, suggesting convergent evolution.
Elephants exhibit a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning, allomothering, mimicry, art, play, a sense of humor, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, memory and possibly language. All point to a highly intelligent species that is thought to be equal with cetaceans, and primates.
During the twentieth century, poaching significantly reduced the population of Loxodonta in some regions. The World Wide Fund for Nature believes there were between 3 and 5 million African elephants as recently as the 1930s and 1940s. Between 1980 and 1990 the population of African elephants was more than halved, from 1.3 million to around 600,000. Between 1973 and 1989, the African elephant population of Kenya declined by 85%. In Chad, the population declined from 400,000 in 1970 to about 10,000 in 2006. The population in the Tanzanian Selous Game Reserve, once the largest of any reserve in the world, dropped from 109,000 in 1976 to 13,000 in 2013. About 85,000 elephants were lost to poaching in Tanzania between 2009 and 2014.
In 1989, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) banned international trade in ivory to fight this massive illegal trade. After the ban came into force in 1990, major ivory markets were eliminated. As a result, African elephant populations experienced a decline in illegal killing, particularly where they were appropriately protected. This allowed some elephant populations to recover. Nevertheless, within countries where wildlife management authorities are greatly under-funded, poaching is still a significant problem.
The World Wildlife Foundation states that the two threats that impact African elephants the most are the demand for ivory and changes in land usage. The majority of the ivory leaving Africa continues to be acquired and transported illegally, and over 80% of all the raw ivory traded comes from poached African elephants. From 2006 to 2012 the magnitude of poaching increased (including some 3,000 elephants slaughtered in between 2006 and 2009). In an incident lasting a few days in February 2012 in Bouba N’Djida park in Cameroon, 650 elephants were poached. In early March 2013 in Chad, 86 elephants — including 33 pregnant females — were killed in “a potentially devastating blow to one of central Africa’s last remaining elephant populations.” By 2014, it was estimated that only 50,000 elephants remained in Central Africa. The last major populations are present in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, in 2014 the total population of African elephants was estimated to be around 700,000, and the Asian elephant population was estimated to be around 32,000. The population of African elephants in Southern Africa is large and expanding, with more than 300,000 within the region; Botswana has 200,000 and Zimbabwe 80,000. Large populations of elephants are confined to well-protected areas. However, conservative estimates were that 23,000 African elephants were killed by poachers in 2013 and less than 20% of the African elephant range was under formal protection. By contrast a study published by the BBC suggests there are about 415,000 elephants in Africa and the population declined by 30% in the last 7 years.
Between the African elephants and the Asian elephants there is a large variance in genetics; also, within Africa the different species vary in genetics based on where they live. The two African species, Loxodonta africana and Loxodonta cyclotis, share different gene flow and have limited hybridization with each other. When examining the gene flow between the forest and savanna elephants, observers look at 21 distinct locations. The evidence points to the fact that there was ancient hybridization since the species share a small amount of similar DNA.