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History of Kenya



became wealthy farming coffee and tea. (One depiction of this period of change from one colonist's perspective is found in the memoir "Out of Africa" by Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, published in 1937.) By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and gained a political voice because of their contribution to the market economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu people, most of whom had no land claims in European terms, and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled. By the 1950s, the white population numbered 80,000.
In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip were on holiday at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya when her father, King George VI, passed away in his sleep. The young princess cut-short her trip and returned home immediately to take her throne. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at the Westminster Abbey in 1953 and, as one gentleman put it, she went up a tree in Africa a princess, and came down a queen.
From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King's African Rifles. The British began counter-insurgency operations; in May 1953 General Sir George Erskine took charge as commander-in-chief of the colony's armed forces, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.
The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (aka General China) on 15 January 1954 and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954, after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War