Quick reference

General issues: Independent state within the British Commonwealth 1963-1964, Republic 1964-Present

Country name on general issues: Kenya

Related issues: East African Community and predecessors 1922-1977

Currency: 1 (Kenya) Shilling = 100 Cent 1963-Present

Population: 8 855 000 in 1963, 44 350 000 in 2013

Political history Kenya

From British East Africa to independent Kenya

Postal history Kenya

Please click on the image to enlarge

Kenya is located in eastern Africa. Kenya, until 1963, is a British colony. The British have established a presence in eastern Africa from 1888 through the British East Africa Company. The rights of the British East Africa Company are, in 1895, transferred to the British government that, subsequently, establishes the protectorate of British East Africa. British East Africa becomes the colony of Kenya in 1920. From 1890, a strip of land along the coast that de jure is part of the sultanate of Zanzibar is administered as a de facto part of British East Africa and later Kenya. De jure the strip is put under British protection as the protectorate of Kenya when Zanzibar, in 1890, becomes a British protectorate.

In 1963, Kenya gains independence within the British Commonwealth to become the republic of Kenya in 1964. Upon independence in 1963, the Kenya protectorate is de jure transferred to the independent Kenya.

Changing borders

The borders of British East Africa, and later Kenya, have been adjusted several times. In 1902, a large part of Uganda, east of Lake Victoria, is transferred to Kenya to bring the construction of the railway from Mombasa to Lake Victoria under the administration of Kenya only. Further parts of Uganda are transferred to Kenya in 1914 and 1926. In 1925, Jubaland is ceded to Italy as a compensation for Italy joining the Allies in WWI. Jubaland will be annexed to Italian Somaliland in 1926. A special political arrangement has applied to the Karasuk area that, from 1930 until 1970, has been – although part of Kenya – administered by Uganda. The Suk are a people that, for a large part, live in Uganda and as, a small minority in Kenya, felt threatened. Disputed until today is the Ilemi triangle – administered by Kenya and claimed by Sudan – currently South Sudan.

The savannah

The savannah

East African Community

Kenya and Uganda – once both administered by the British East Africa Company – have long cooperated in several ways. A postal union is formed in 1901. The cooperation is extended to include Tanganyika in 1930 and Zanzibar in 1964, when it joins with Tanganyika in the federation of Tanganyika & Zanzibar that will eventually become Tanzania. The cooperation through the years goes by different names, from 1967 by that of the East African Community. The East African Community is dissolved in 1977.

Political and economic development

Kenya is, from 1964, de facto and from 1982 de jure ruled by one party. The first democratic multi party elections are held in 1992. The population of Kenya consists of a range of Bantu, Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic peoples – the most important population group being the Kikuyu in central Kenya. The economy is largely driven by agriculture – tea – and tourism.

Postal history Kenya

Postal history Kenya

1966 – The African elephant. A stamp from a set on Kenyan wildlife.

The first post office in the future Kenya is opened by the Germans in Lamu. At this office, stamps of Germany are used  which can be recognized by the cancels. The German office in Lamu closed in 1891. The first British post offices are opened in 1890 in Lamu and Mombasa, run by and using the stamps of British India. The British East Africa Company will issue stamps from 1895, these to be superseded by the issues for British East Africa from 1895.

The issues of British East Africa are superseded by the joint issues of British East Africa & Uganda from 1902. Joint issues will continue to be issued until the East African Community is dissolved in 1977: from 1922 as Kenya & Uganda, from 1935 as Kenya, Uganda & Tanganyika, from 1964 as Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika & Zanzibar and from 1965 until 1977 as Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania.

Kenya issues its first stamps as an individual country after it has gained independence in 1963. The Kenya issues are, until 1977, used concurrent with the joint issues of Kenya, Uganda & Tanganyika – later Tanzania. Tanganyika and Uganda will also issue stamps from 1961 and 1962 respectively. The issues of the individual countries are valid for use in all cooperating countries and even available in the other countries the first two weeks after they had been issued.

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