'... the day Kenya achieved independence, 12th December 1963'

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'... the day Kenya achieved independence, 12th December 1963'


Frank remembers Kenya achieving independence.


Frank Gaynor


Trinity College Dublin




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Frank Gaynor

Is Part Of

Adolescence and Early Adulthood


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Kenya, Africa

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


On the day Kenya achieved independence, 12th December 1963, with Jomo Kenyatta as its first President, some local women did an impromptu traditional dance in front of Matunda church. Across the country the relatively low key celebrations passed off peacefully. For the most part life continued as before. That's the way Kenyatta wanted it to be. In that cold war period Kenyatta was pro - western and pro - capitalist. After independence incentives were offered to encourage the remaining Mau Mau fighters to come out of their hiding places and hand over their weapons. The cook at Kiminini Mission took three days leave of absence. While watching the news on television the parish priest was somewhat surprised to see his cook emerge from the Aberdare Mountains and surrender his weapons. Two days later he was back working in the kitchen in Kiminini. The first sign of real change that we noticed was when the government began to gradually take over some white - owned farms. A young Swiss farmer, who had a good dairy herd and excellent fruit and vegetable gardens, was one of the first to be taken over. His compensation was calculated on the number of acres that he had; no allowance was made for the dairy herd or the fruit and vegetable business. During the Tokyo Olympics he had positioned televisions in his garden for his workers to watch some of the events, and had distributed blankets to help keep the viewers warm. One white farmer told me that his father had arrived in Kitale in the 1920s and borrowed from the bank in order to clear and develop 1,500 acres of bush - land. I understood that his father had been given the land as a kind of severance pay by the British army. Up to that point the Eldoret Plateau was sparsely populated. In 1958, when the farm was showing a profit for the first time and the bank loan was almost cleared, the Lancaster House talks started. These talks, which resulted in independence for Kenya in 1963, marked the beginning of the end for white farmers in western Kenya. Bob Day, manager of Matunda sisal estate, invited Fintan and me to his house to watch some of the Tokyo Olympics on Kenya Television. We sat in a large sitting room with a wide open fireplace. Bob talked about his time in the British army hunting for communists in the Burmese jungle. One day as Bob returned from a tour of the estate he informed us that he had found an additional 500 acres where they could grow sisal. By 1972, when I passed through Kenya, Matunda sisal estate had been divided into a large number of small farms, all growing maize. There seemed to be a number of families sharing the former manager's house.




Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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