history of kenya

Topics: Kenya, Africa, African Union Pages: 15 (1979 words) Published: October 29, 2014

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Ibrahim Busolo

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Morenotes on colonialism and decolonization in Kenya.docx
Page 1 of 78



Phases in the Historiography of Kenya:

The writing of African history in general and Kenyan history in particular has gone

through two major phases, namely;

(i) Colonial phase and

(ii) African nationalistic phase.

The colonial phase of history was dominated by European writers from different

nationalities (Britain, France, Germany, Italy etc) wrote in different languages. The

thoughts and ideas of such writers reflected the philosophy and ideology of their mother

countries. These writers also came from different fields and different professions

(missionaries, explorers, colonial administrators, anthropologists, etc) hence their area of

writing was also influenced by their professional orientation.

Although European writes wrote in different languages and from different professional

angels, colonial history in general had the following weaknesses;

(i) It was imbued with heavy racial overtones

(ii) It emphasized European superiority and African inferiority

(iii) It was obsessed with negativities and falsehoods about African history

(iv) It assumed that history in Africa only began with the coming of writing;

Wilhelm Hegel once noted that there was no history in Africa before the

coming of European; there was only darkness which is not a subject of

historical inquiry.

As a reaction to the weaknesses in colonial history, there emerged a new phase; African

nationalistic history. These weaknesses strongly influenced the development of African

historiography since 1950s. The Nationalist conception of the African past was born in

circumstances characterized by the struggle for Africa’s independence and the

maintenance of the colonial order. In Kenya the struggle emerged through the writings of

historians such as B.A. Ogot, G. Muriuki, Henry Mwaniki and the ‘controversial’

William Ochieng among others. Such writers aimed at coming up with a balanced and

unbiased history of Kenya as written by Kenyans themselves. They started by writing on

the history of their people.

African nationalist historians demonstrated that African societies had well organized

states and engaged in long distance trade with properly organized markets. They proved

that Africans had religion, philosophies,...
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