The History Of Kenya

History & Politics

Here are some key dates in the history of Kenya:

The Cradle of mankind

c. 6 million BC: Evidence in Tugen Hills of a walking ape

c. 4 million BC: A man-like ape (Australopithecus) lives in East Africa

c.2 million, 1.6 million BC: Remains from Lake Turkana show Homo habilis (‘Handy Man’) and Homo erectus (‘Upright Man’), both tool-makers

Traders & migrants

500BC – AD500: Bantu migrants arrive with metalworking skills

c.AD900: Islamic Arabs occupy Mombasa and other coastal ports

c1300s: Swahili community emerges with Arabs and Persians trading inlandFort Jesus, Mombasa, by Zeljko at hr.wikipedia (Transferred from hr.wikipedia)[see page for license], from Wikimedia Commons

1500s: Portuguese sailors build fort posts, including Fort Jesus at Mombasa (see photo opposite)

1700s: Arabs force Portuguese to leave; Kenya coast is ruled by Imam of Oman

Exploration & colonisation

1800s: European missionaries and explorers venture into the heart of Kenya

1888: British East Africa Company sets up its headquarters in Mombasa

1890: The Treaty of Berlin brings Kenya (and Uganda) under British jurisdiction

1920s-30s: British Government offers Kenyan land to white settlers

Nationalism & independence

1940s: Despite fighting for Britain in WWII, Kenyans still have no rights and an underground independence movement forms, which becomes known as the Mau Mau; Jomo Kenyatta is leader of newly-created Kenya Africa Union

1950s: A state of emergency is declared after Mau Mau attacks on settlers and Statue of Jomo Kenyatta, Nairobi, by Rotsee2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commonsthousands of Kenyans are killed /imprisoned; emergency rule finally ends in 1960


1963: Kenya becomes independent with Jomo Kenyatta as Prime Minister (the photo opposite shows a statue of Kenyatta outside Kenya’s high court)

1978: Kenyatta dies and is succeeded as President by Daniel arap Moi

1990s: International donors demand reforms in Kenya; ‘Saba Saba’ riots sparked by the murder of a leading politician; first multi-party elections held in 1992; economic crisis in 1993; protestors continue to demand constitutional reform, an end to government corruption and enforced removal of ethnic groups from land

2007: Inter-ethnic violence follows a disputed election, leading to a power-sharing government.

2010: A new constitution devolving power to 47 counties approved by the people


Written by PH

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