According to Countryaah, Kenya is on the east coast of Africa, near the equator. The country’s recent history illustrates how the colonial system has led to an underdeveloped and distorted economy. Production and class relationships have been created that maintain social inequality and economic dependency – even without any formal colonial rule. From a conservative point of view, a “Kenyan wonder” was previously spoken of. The country’s rapid growth in GDP and political stability in the first decade after independence has been highlighted. Until the mid-1990s, Kenya was one of Denmark’s most important recipients of foreign aid.
Pre-colonial Kenya was characterized by small and self-sufficient communities in the interior of the country, while from the beginning of our era the coastal area was drawn into trade with the Arab world and with India. When the Portuguese started their looting around the year 1500, they came across large trading cities under Arab influence – such as the Mombasa. The interior of the country, which was predominantly populated by bantu, had not developed a culture of similar altitude as on the coast and also not organized states. It was not until the 19th century that the Masai people succeeded to establish any form of hegemony over the other peoples, but a few decades later this development was halted after the outbreak of bovine plague. In the 19th century, trade in slaves and ivory from the interior of the country became a lucrative business, not least for the Arab aristocracy of Zanzibar. Formally, Kenya was colonized by Britain in 1895, following an intermezzo with a private colony company. The colonization was a consequence of the Berlin Conference and the subsequent German-British agreement that set the boundaries of the spheres of interest of the two colonial powers. With this agreement, Zanzíbar, Kenya and Uganda were recognized as British.
When the railway to Lake Victoria was completed in 1902, it was decided that European “settlers” should move in – not least after inspiration from Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe) and South Africa. While most of Kenya consists of areas with poor soil and insufficient rainfall, fertile upland areas also exist. This land was occupied by European immigrants. Locals were driven into reserves and estates, plantations and ranches were set up. This was especially true of the Kikuyu and Masai people. The authorities saw it as their most important task to secure the supply of African labor and to ensure the profitability of European export agriculture. Through land occupations, forced laws, taxes, pricing policies and a ban on African production of e.g. coffee, the local people’s farming became more difficult. The infrastructure – the facilities for transport, transport, supply of electricity, water and the like – were developed unilaterally in favor of European export agriculture,
The mode of capitalist production was forced on the outside of Kenya through a state-controlled economy, which was defended by the military and police apparatus of the colonial authorities and the European people’s monopoly on political power. Regulatory and coercive measures also required a comprehensive administration at the local level. After 1963, this special form of colonial structure was taken over and adapted to the interests of the African upper class, which, from its position in the political-administrative apparatus, has often acquired large land holdings.
Compared to many other African states, there was also a basis for some industrialization, while foreign banks and trading companies gained a powerful position in the export and import-oriented economy. Kenya was also attractive to foreign companies because it was a hub for the surrounding East African territories. As foreign trade, finance and industrial capital gained a foothold after World War II, the settlers political power weakened. Their local anchoring came into conflict to some extent with the UK and foreign companies’ long-term strategy – much like in Zimbabwe ten years later. Within the white power bloc in Kenya, there were groups that started work early on a “decolonization” that could ensure continued foreign domination. The rebellion in the 1950s sparked this development.