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Visions of the African Press in Colonial Kenya: What the Nationalists Imagined
Unformatted Document Text:  3 to attend to schools run by the government, churches or by Africans organizations, all of which aimed to provide a Western education for their students. According to the Annual Colonial Reports, in 1930 there were 29 government schools for Africans. In 1940, there were 642. In short, Africans began to experience those factors that James Coleman (1994) has identified as necessary preconditions for the rise of nationalism. 6 At mid-century, World War II brought more changes. After the war, thousands of African Kenyans returned from military service with new ideas about democracy, self- governance and human rights. By 1945, Kenya’s "social and economic grievances were plainer to all" while there had also been a "steady growth of political sensibility among the Africans in Kenya." 7 Many of those who stayed at home had become part of urban population growth and were establishing or expanding various associations, based on tribe, vocation, social or other affiliations. After the war, some of these groups wanted to spread their messages to large numbers of people. One of their means of doing this was by establishing their own newspapers. An African press had already began to slowly develop in the 1920s. In 1921, political activist Harry Thuku started a short-lived Swahili publication called Tangazo ("News" or "The Announcement"). 8 The better-known Muigwithania ("The Reconciler" or "The Unifier") was begun in 1928 by the Kikuyu Central Association and was sometimes edited by Jomo Kenyatta, who would later become Kenya’s first president. This publication was banned at the start of World War II. Around the same time, Kenya’s Asian population established a thriving press to articulate its own political and social 6 Coleman (1994) identifies the following factors that are preconditions for the rise of nationalism: Economic (change from subsistence to money economy, growth of wage-labor force, rise of a middle class); Sociological (urbanization, social mobility and Western education); Religious and Psychological (Christian evangelization, neglect or frustration of Western-educated elements); Political (eclipse of traditional authorities; forging of new national symbols). 7 Josiah Mwangi Kariku, Mau Mau Detainee, London: Oxford University Press, 1963, 21. 8 Scotton 31. Robert G. Gregory, Quest for Equality; Asian Politics in East Africa, 1900- 1967, Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1993.

Authors: Wall, Melissa.
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to attend to schools run by the government, churches or by Africans organizations, all of
which aimed to provide a Western education for their students. According to the Annual
Colonial Reports, in 1930 there were 29 government schools for Africans. In 1940, there
were 642. In short, Africans began to experience those factors that James Coleman
(1994) has identified as necessary preconditions for the rise of nationalism.
6
At mid-century, World War II brought more changes. After the war, thousands of
African Kenyans returned from military service with new ideas about democracy, self-
governance and human rights. By 1945, Kenya’s "social and economic grievances were
plainer to all" while there had also been a "steady growth of political sensibility among
the Africans in Kenya."
7
Many of those who stayed at home had become part of urban
population growth and were establishing or expanding various associations, based on
tribe, vocation, social or other affiliations. After the war, some of these groups wanted to
spread their messages to large numbers of people. One of their means of doing this was
by establishing their own newspapers.
An African press had already began to slowly develop in the 1920s. In 1921,
political activist Harry Thuku started a short-lived Swahili publication called Tangazo
("News" or "The Announcement").
8
The better-known Muigwithania ("The Reconciler"
or "The Unifier") was begun in 1928 by the Kikuyu Central Association and was
sometimes edited by Jomo Kenyatta, who would later become Kenya’s first president.
This publication was banned at the start of World War II. Around the same time, Kenya’s
Asian population established a thriving press to articulate its own political and social
6
Coleman (1994) identifies the following factors that are preconditions for the rise of
nationalism: Economic (change from subsistence to money economy, growth of wage-
labor force, rise of a middle class); Sociological (urbanization, social mobility and
Western education); Religious and Psychological (Christian evangelization, neglect or
frustration of Western-educated elements); Political (eclipse of traditional authorities;
forging of new national symbols).
7
Josiah Mwangi Kariku, Mau Mau Detainee, London: Oxford University Press, 1963, 21.
8
Scotton 31. Robert G. Gregory, Quest for Equality; Asian Politics in East Africa, 1900-
1967, Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1993.


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