Lesson Three – Sub topic: Nationalism in Kenya


  • This was a statement of government policy issued in March 1923 during a conference in London by the colonial secretary, who was also the Duke of Devonshire.
  • From 1896, white settlers started flocking into Kenya while the Asians came during and after the construction of the Uganda Railway.
  • Inevitably, between 1907 and 1923 bitter conflicts arose between the three groups i.e. Asians, white settlers and the Africans due to their different demands and interests. 


3.3       ASIANS (INDIANS)

  • The Asians wanted equal representation on the L.E.G.CO (Legislative council) i.e. the Asians outnumbered the white settlers yet the white settlers had more seats on the LEGCO.
  • Racial segregation also hurt the Asians e.g. they wanted equal treatment with the whites in politics, health, education, business e.t.c.
  • The Asians also wanted unrestricted immigrations into Kenya i.e. they wanted free entry and exit into and out of Kenya.
  • They also wanted to acquire land from the fertile Kenyan highlands i.e. the white settlers had forced the Asians to stay in towns which they did not like.
  • Asians had formed associations like the East African Indian National Congress led by A.M Jeevanje which became a platform for airing out their grievances against the white settlers. 


  • The white settlers wanted to monopolize politics of Kenya e.g. by 1920, they had more seats /majority seats on the legislative council but they were not contented.
  • They believed in racial superiority and they didn’t want to share social services with Africans and Asians e.g. health, education e.t.c
  • The white settlers wanted to retain the fertile Kenyan highlands exclusively for themselves.
  • The Europeans settlers also wanted the colonial government to discourage Africans from growing cash crops so that they could only serve as laborers on the European farms.
  • The white settlers wanted to colonize Kenya as a separate colony from England i.e. they wanted Kenya to be declared Independent from England.
  • The whites were also led by lord Delamare and colony Grogan who set up a number of associations to serve as platform for airing out their views. 

3.5       AFRICANS

  • The Africans demanded for the withdrawal of the Kipande (Identity cards) that made them look like prisoners in their own country.
  • Africans wanted a reduction in taxes which had suffocated them yet many of them had nowhere to get the money.
  • African also wanted good labour conditions e.g. many of them were forced to work on European farms with little or no pay at all.
  • Africans like the Kikuyu and the Maasai wanted all the land that had been taken away from them returned by the white settlers
  • Africans also wanted to regain their independence that had been eroded by the British.
  • Africans also demanded for similar education opportunities which they had been denied by the whites in order to keep them backward.
  • Africans also wanted representation in government because they had been totally left out in politics.
  • Africans were also restricted from growing cash crops by the whites who claimed that they were going to lower the quality of the Kenyan produce.
  • The Africans also formed tribal organizations e.g. the Young Kikuyu Association and the Young Kavirondo Association which became platforms for airing out their views. 


  • The Kenyan highlands were to be exclusively reserved for the white settlers only.
  • The legislative council was to have eleven (11) Europeans, five (5) Asians (Indians), a missionary to represent African interests.
  • There were to be no more restrictions on Asian immigration or entry into Kenya.
  • A missionary i.e. Dr. Arthur was to be nominated to the legislative council to represent the interest of the Africans.
  • There was to be no more racial segregation or discrimination in all residential areas.
  • Africans were to be members of the local councils and not in politics at a higher level.
  • Asians and African representatives on the Legislative council were not to be on the same voters’ registers as the whites.
  • The colonial office in London was to watch over the Kenyan Affairs in order for the interests of the Africans to be given first priority.
  • The paper clearly stated that Kenya was primary an African territory and the interests of the Africans were paramount or very important.
  • The paper made it clear that all racial groups in Kenya were to work together and gradually towards the achievement of self-rule or independence.
  • The paper also warned against the white settlers wanting to make further advances towards self-rule.
  • The paper was to rule out any constitutional changes in favor of the white settlers.
  • The paper also stated that the white settlers would no longer have controlling influence on the colonial government but it was the government that was to serve their interests. 


  • In the first instance, the whites, the Asians and Africans were not pleased with the outcome.
  • The Asians failed to win equality with the white e.g. they were denied the right to occupy the Kenyan highlands and were given only five seats on the LEGCO and they had to use a different voters register.
  • The whites lost their dream of even controlling Kenya as a separate colony.
  • The paper also confirmed that Kenya was for Kenyans and that their interests were to be given first priority.
  • The paper confirmed Kenya as a settler colony which increased the number of Europeans coming into Kenya.
  • The paper also clarified that neither the whites nor the Asians would gain monopoly in the administration of Kenya whatsoever.
  • The giving of the highlands to settlers stimulated plantation farming and led to the growth of cash crop economy.
  • The paper failed to address the land and labour problems i.e. Africans were to continue providing labour on settler farms.
  • The free immigration policy resulted in many Indians pouring into Kenya and they became a major force in Kenya’s economy.
  • The paper also laid the foundation for the future independence struggles of Kenya e.g. armed groups like Mau- Mau were formed by the Africans.
  • The paper exposed the intentions of the white settlers in Kenya who were after taking over the country.
  • The paper created unity among Africans and Asians because it affected them equally.
  • Africans started sharing in the running of their country. E.g. the native councils.
  • African by 1931 were allowed to send one representative, Elaid Marthu to the LEGCO.
  • The colonial government started training and educating Africans, a measure that was intended to prepare them for the future responsibilities and independence.
  • Africans remained discriminated, less paid and exploited.
  • The Asians were given both commercial and trading rights in Kenya.
  • It increased instabilities among the people of Kenya as the three groups remained conflicting amongst themselves.