Colonial Kenya Observed: British Rule, Mau Mau and the Wind of Change

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9781780768656: Colonial Kenya Observed: British Rule, Mau Mau and the Wind of Change
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The coast of East Africa was considered a strategically invaluable region for the establishment of trading ports, both for Arab and Persian merchants, long prior to invasion and conquest by Europeans. In the initial stages of the scramble for Africa in the 18th century, control of the area was an aspiration for every colonial nation in Europe – but it was not until 1895 that it was finally dominated by a sole power and proclaimed The Protectorate of British East Africa. In the early 20th century, the coast was brimming with vitality as immigrants, colonisers and missionaries from Arabia, India and Europe poured in to take advantage of growing commercial opportunities – including the prospect of enslaving millions of native Africans. The development of Kenya is an exceptional tale within the history of British rule – in perhaps no other colony did nationalistic feeling evolve in conditions of such extensive social and political change.

In 1911, S.H. Fazan sailed to what later became the Republic of Kenya to work for the colonial government. Immersing himself in knowledge of traditional language and law, he recorded the vast changes to local culture that he encountered after decades of working with both the British administration and the Kenyan people. This work charts the sweeping tide of social change that occurred through his career with the clarity and insight that comes with a total intimacy of a country. His memoirs examine the fascinating complexity of interaction between the colonial and native courts, commercial land reform and the revolutionised dynamic of labour relations. By further unearthing the political tensions that climaxed with the Mau Mau Revolt of 1952-1960, this invaluable work on the European colonial period paints a comprehensive and revealing firsthand account for anyone with an interest in British and African history. Fazan's story provides a quite unparalleled view of colonial Africa and the conduct of Empire across half a century.

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About the Author:

S.H. Fazan was a Provincial Commissioner in Kenya. A classical scholar of Christ Church, Oxford, UK, in 1911 he sailed to British East Africa (Kenya) where he worked continuously for the next thirty-one years in agricultural development in Africa, being latterly also an ex-officio member of the Legislative Council. He returned to Kenya between 1949 and 1963, and his most notable appointments during these years were as Defence Secretary, member of the Mau Mau Detainees Appeals Tribunal and the Committee for the Study of the Psychological Causes of Mau Mau.

John Lonsdale is a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and University Reader in African History, University of Cambridge, UK.

Review:

'Sidney Fazan was Britain's most important colonial officer serving in Britain's most important African colony. His voice is to be heard in every key discussion in Kenya's history from before the First World War until the Mau Mau rebellion. This edition of his personal writings, selected and superbly edited and annotated by John Lonsdale, will be an indispensible asset for any student of Kenya's colonial moment. This is a wonderful and immensely useful volume.' David M. Anderson, Professor of African History, University of Warwick 'For students of British Colonialism and especially development to independence this is an invaluable record. We are fortunate that the editors have revealed the importance of S.H. Fazan's work. I was fortunate to meet him, long after retirement, working on his colonial records in happy seclusion in Muguga near his home. Increasingly Fazan pointed to the rising population of Africans and the grievances which led to the Mau Mau insurrection. Renewed calls for change came from the United Nations and newly independent countries like Ghana exerted pressure. The United Kingdom decided to accelerate the programme with independence in East African countries, in Tanganyika in 1961, Uganda in 1962 and Kenya in 1963. Fazan's work had helped prepare the ground successfully for African rule.' - Sir John Johnson, former High Commissioner to Kenya

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