In Summary
  • Accidents of history and geography bestowed Central region a cool climate and fertile soils which attracted hordes of white settlers since the dawn of colonialism.
  • Discrimination and unfair taxation led to the Somali people's clamour for secession and the Shifta war fought between November 1963 and April 1968.

Over the last one week, Kenyans have been treated to unprecedented political drama with what seems like an open rebellion of some leaders from Central region against President Uhuru Kenyatta marking the crescendo.

Although the controversy appears to mark the beginning of a bigger political game scheme, do Central leaders have a point when they say the region has been neglected in terms of development?

Whenever this question is flagged, many Kenyans want to look at Central as the favoured birthplace of three of the four presidents the country has had since independence.

It is also important to consider that Kenya is a country where ordinary members of communities believe that their fortunes (or “time for eating”) are bound to change whenever one of their own becomes the president.

However, sooner, most of these people end up realising that the “eating” is exclusive.

PRIVILEGE

Do other Kenyans have a point when they say that the Central region has had more than its share of “development” since 1963?

Accidents of history and geography bestowed to the region a cool climate, fertile soils and lush forests which attracted hordes of white settlers since the dawn of colonialism.

The British took by force a significant section of the land there and converted it into the white highlands.

With agriculture forming the bedrock of the colonial economy, the British started opening up roads and other infrastructure in the region as early as 1920s.

Numerous churches and schools were also started in the region by the white missionaries.

Indeed, by the time Kenya became independent, the region had more infrastructure projects than other regions of the country.

COLONIAL POLICY

But what many people fail to acknowledge is that the British launched these projects to exclusively serve them but not the millions of the region’s inhabitants.

The exclusion of millions of Central Kenya residents is as rampant as it is in other regions of the country.

In reaction to the exclusion, millions of Central residents have little to do with the government and prefer to run their own show (that is, farming, small businesses, hawking and the matatu sub-sector).

Nonetheless, those who have compared the highly marginalised regions and Central Kenya have not contextualised this with Kenya’s history.

The marginalisation of more than half of Kenya was a deliberate British colonial policy.

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