Early Political Organizations In Kenya Upto 1939
African participation in the First World War contributed to rapid political developments in Kenya in the following ways;
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;
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
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 kikuyu central association.
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When EAA was banned, its former officials Joseph Kang’ethe and Jesse Kariuki founded 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.
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;
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;
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
UMA was formed in 1938 by Samuel Muindi Mbingu (Chairman), Elijah Kavula (Vice-chairman), Isaac Mwalozi (secretary) and Simon Kioko (treasurer) as an association of the Akamba of the eastern part of Kenya.
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
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 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.
Taita hills Association
It was formed on 22nd June 1939, being modeled on the KCA and UMA styles.
Its objectives were;
In 1939, Woresho Kolandi Mengo, Jimmy Mwambichi and Paul Chumbo took over his course and established THA with the help of KCA leadership.
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EMERGENCE OF INDEPENDENT CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS MOVEMENT IN KENYA.
This was an expression of African protest against European interference with traditional African economic and political organization.
Reasons why independent churches and schools emerged in Kenya.
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;
The independent churches and schools movement in central Kenya
Due to its proximity to Nairobi, the seat of colonial administration, central Kenya experienced the presence of white settlers more than any other region in Kenya. The schools established by the so many missionary groups in the region only aimed at imparting basic literacy and numeracy skills to African converts. As the evangelized, the \missionary groups condemned many traditional African practices and values like polygamy, consumption of traditional brews and female circumcision.
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.
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.
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