The Citizen Handbook

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010: The People’s Power

The History of Constitutional Reform in Kenya

1895 – 1962: The Colonial Period

Great Britain’s control of our country began in 1895. What are today the boundaries of our country were formerly a portion of the British East Africa Protectorate, which stretched into Uganda. The British claimed this area largely due to its attractive arable land. Under the protectorate, the British ruled the East African Protectorate as a foreign territory. It was not until 1920 that the British named our country a “Crown Colony.” In doing so, British settlers confirmed full control over our country and officially established Kenya as part of the British Empire. Regional authority over our country was vested in a Commissioner of the East African Protectorate; as a colony, our country was vested in a Governor of Kenya – the British Crown appointed both positions. A Council of Ministers assisted the Executive and Legislative Council and formal courts were established.

The Lyttleton Constitution of 1954

The Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 introduced the concept of a Council of Ministers, comprised of European, Asian, and African members. The British appointed a Commission of Inquiry in 1955 due to growing frustrations expressed by Kenyans unable to elect their own representatives. Consequently, the first African members of the Executive and Legislative Council gained their seats in 1957.

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