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Kenya: Independence Day/Republic Day

Kenya holds a double celebration each year on 12 December: it’s the anniversary of the country’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, and the declaration of a republic in 1964.

Kenya effectively became a British colony in 1895 (although officially declared to be one only in 1920), as the result of an agreement between the United Kingdom and Germany under which Tanganyika (the mainland part of modern-day Tanzania) became a German colony. Colonisation by large numbers of British settlers in the first half of the twentieth century increasingly deprived native Kenyans of land, particularly the Kikuyu tribe. With no political means of seeking redress, in 1952 large numbers of the Kikuyu and other Kenyans launched an armed uprising – known as the Mau Mau rebellion – which lasted until 1959, with brutality and atrocities on both sides.

Although the rebellion failed, the pressure to give increased political power to the Kenyans proved irresistible. Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya African Union (renamed Kenya African National Union) rapidly established itself as the dominant Kenyan party and he became the first Prime Minister of autonomous Kenya in 1963, becoming President when the link to the British Crown was severed the following year.

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