Kenya Brief History
According to proexchangerates.com, Kenya is a country in eastern Africa, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Before the 16th century the interior of Kenya was inhabited by Bantu- speaking peoples, such as the Ogiek and Kamba, dedicated to agriculture, gathering and hunting. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, Nilotic populations (kalenjin and luo) and other Bantu groups arrived: kikuyu, coming from S, luhya, kisii, all attracted by the fertile lands of the plateau and close to the Great Lakes. At the end of the 17th century. the Masai nomadscoming from N settled with flocks and herds in the southern part. of the country. Inserted in a multimillennial history of exchanges with the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf and the entire Indian Ocean region, the coast of Kenya was the epicenter from the 9th-10th century. the development of the so-called Swahili civilization, characterized by a local human base, a Bantu language, a strong presence of Islam, Arab and Iranian contributions, etc. and the growth of a series of city-states which reached their peak towards the 12th century. (➔ Kilwa). In particular, the coast of Kenya saw the rise of the power of the centers of Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, Pate, but also Gedi. Commercial exchanges involved slaves, textiles, ivory, gold, glass, etc. The Portuguese, who touched the Kenyan coast with Vasco da Gama in 1498, entered the competitions between city-states. Allying with the ruling dynasty in Malindi, they managed to take Mombasa in 1529, which they occupied with other bases until 1699, when forces from the Sultanate of Oman expelled them definitively. The Omani power left a substantial autonomy to the coastal cities for a long time, until in the 1920s of the 19th century. Sultan Seyyid Said moved the capital from the Arabian Peninsula to Zanzibar, accentuating control over the coast and its traffic. The first British intrusions in the area began at this stage and the Swahili towns that opposed Sayyid saw the British as an ally. The activities of European commercial companies, such as the British East Africa company (BEAC), of explorers (discovery of the mountains of Kenya and Kilimanjaro) and missionaries, especially Protestants, accentuated the European interest in the region. In 1877 Oman was forced to issue a commercial concession to BEAC. It was the prelude to the formation of the protectorate of British East Africa (1895), a process also conducted in conjunction with the construction of the Mombasa-Lake Victoria (Kisumu) railway between 1896 and 1901, which opened a communication axis towards Uganda.. Nairobi was founded as a railway operations center (1900) and then the capital was moved there from Mombasa (1908). The Kenya became a colony in 1921, after the settlement of a few thousand large European landowners in the regions of the plateau between Nairobi and the Great Lakes, where the majority of the African population was concentrated, active in the production of tea, coffee, cotton, tobacco etc. Despite the friction with the dispossessed local farmers, the colony became one of the most prosperous in tropical Africa. In the fifties of the 20th century. the Mau-Mau revolt led by the Land Freedom Army, made up of black nationalists and landless peasants, mainly Kikuyu, broke out.
The main anti-colonial leader, Jomo Kenyatta, came politically from this struggle. Kenyatta founded the Kenya African national union (KANU), led the country to independence (1963) and was the first president with the proclamation of the Republic (1964). For the next four decades, KANU dominated the politics of Kenya, which in the schematisms of the Cold War was the undisputed supporter of the alliance with the West. Kenyatta, who ran a de facto one-party system, was president until his death in 1978. His rule coincided with a period of strong economic growth. The successor, Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, reconfirmed several times as President of the Republic (since 1992 through multi-party elections), he inherited from his predecessor and father of the nation not only economic dynamism and infrastructures, but also great social disparities and a poorly functioning and corrupt public machine. Ethnic politics served to divert attention from the distortions of the political system and from social issues, such as the unjust distribution and arbitrary management of the land by the provincial authorities. All this produced strong conflict and a collapse of the consensus for KANU, which was resolved in 2002 with the victory of the opposition of the Democratic party (DP) and of Mwai Kibaki (a rich businessman), who as president became a slavish executor of the dictates of international financial institutions, but corruption and socio-economic injustices continue to feed a strong social conflict, which takes the forms of ethnicism. Kibaki’s meager successes in addressing the crucial issues of land, constitutional and administrative reforms led the opposition to join the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). This denounced government fraud in the December 2007 elections, which had proclaimed Kibaki the winner again at the expense of the other candidate Raila Odinga. In the following months the two fronts clashed, causing a high number of victims and internal refugees, before reaching a power-sharing agreement with Kibaki as president and Obinga as prime minister. However, the new government encounters serious operating difficulties, while part of the leadership is under investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In August 2010, a new Constitution was enacted.