Lesson One – Sub topic: The Rise And Development Of Nationalism In East Africa


Nationalism refers to the rise consciousness and love for one’s country.

In Africa, it was the desire for independence, self-determination and common hatred to all evils associated with colonial rule. 


  • East Africa’s involvement in the Second World War exposed them to western culture and civilization.
  • The return of world war 11 ex-servicemen strengthened the hostility towards colonial rule.
  • The ex-servicemen who had fought alongside the whites had begun to doubt their superiority.
  • Several ex-servicemen became leaders of national movement’s e.g General China.
  • The ex-servicemen came back with ideas of equality, liberty and independence.
  • The formation of the United Nations and its anti-imperial policy greatly inspired the nationalists.
  • The high level of unemployment made Africans form mass political
  • The influence of Christian missionaries gave Africans courage to rise up for their own rights.
  • The emergence of an educated class of people (elites) who would read newspapers, listen to Radio etc helped to spread the nationalistic ideology.
  • The granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1946 marked the beginning of the forces of nationalism.
  • The return of educated African leaders who had been studying from abroad. E.g Julius Nyerere with liberal ideas.
  • Development of National Languages like Kiswahili by Tanganyika and English by Kenya and Uganda created unity among Africans.
  • The rise of prominent communist countries like USSR and China which were anti colonialism inspired nationalism in E.A
  • The rise of USA and USSR which put pressure on colonial powers to decolonize inspired the nationalists in East Africa.
  • The growth of Pan Africanism which advocated for “Africa for Africans” gave morale to the nationalistic movements.
  • Loss of land esp. in Kenya inspired the Mau-Mau nationalistic movements under the Kikuyu.
  • The independence of Ghana in 1957 and the emergence of Kwame Nkrumah also increased the pace for self-rule in Africa.
  • Urbanization/ growth of many towns created employment opportunities for Africans thus broke tribal ties.
  • Rural –urban migration exposed them to new ideas leading to the growth of nationalism. 

Qn       Explain the factors that led to the rise and development of nationalism In E.A between 1945-1960. 


  • Tribal differences and disagreements among the various tribes made it difficult to rally people for a common goal.
  • There was lack of nation-wide support since some political parties were considered to be tribal groupings for example the Mau-Mau.
  • Insufficient funds to finance the nationalists’ movements.
  • Hostility of the colonial government which discouraged and even banned political parties like KANU, TANU, KADU.
  • La ck of proper organization both at local and national levels.
  • D ifficulty of communicating with a large scattered population since there were no developed transport routes.
  • Lack of a common language made it difficult to spread nationalistic ideas.
  • Religious differences created disunity among the different groups.
  • Limited supply of guns which could be used in wars.
  • Differences in the methods to be used to attain independence, whether violence or diplomacy.
  • The high level of illiteracy made it difficult to spread nationalistic ideas.
  • Poor transport and communication slowed down the activities of nationalists.
  • The nationalistic movements failed to preserve unity.e.g in Kenya; KANU mainly attracted the kikuyu, Luo and Kamba only.
  • Presence of collaborators who would inform the whites on what the Africans were trying to do.
  • Inferiority complex among the African kept many Africans out of politics.
  • Conflict and quarrels among the leaders of the national movements caused rivalry and disunity.
  • The domination of political life by Europeans and Asians made Africans poor and isolated from politics for a long time.
  • The banning of civil servants from participating in politics kept many people away from politics. 

Q n:     What problems did the nationalists face in East Africa?