British East African Protectorate

British East African Protectorate
   The territory that became Kenya colony in 1920. British East Africa was originally acquired by the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC), a chartered company under the control of the self-made shipping magnate Sir William Mackinnon. The IBEAC was chartered in 1888, with many prominent Britons, including Sir T. F. Buxton of the Aborigines’ Protection Society among its shareholders. It promised to abolish slavery and establish free trade within its territories; Mackinnon himself told shareholders to expect their returns in philanthropy.
   The East Africa Company secured a coastal territory around the port of Mombasa, and attempted to build a railway inland to Lake Victoria. Lord Salisbury proposed to subsidize the railway on the grounds that it would solidify Britain’s control of the headwaters of the Nile and assist in putting down slavery, but Parliament would not go along. The company rapidly ran out of money and had to go back to its shareholders for additional funds on several occasions. It sold its claims in East Africa to the British government in 1895. A railway from Mombasa to Uganda - often then called Buganda - was begun in 1895 and completed in 1902. The railway was built in large part by Indian labor. The opening up of the fertile and temperate regions of what became Kenya attracted British immigrants looking for farmland, leading many to describe British East Africa as “a white man’s country.” Racial tensions between white immigrants, Africans moved off the land and compelled to work for wages by taxes designed to that end, and Indians demanding equal status with whites characterized politics in the protectorate and eventually led to its reconstitution as Kenya.
   See also <>; <>.
    Galbraith, John S. Mackinnon and East Africa, 1878-1895. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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