HISTORY OF THE KENYA ARMY
The origin of the present day Kenya Army may be traced from the King’s African Rifles. The reasons that necessitated the recruitment and formation of troops that preceded the King’s African Rifles and in essence the Kenya Army are as many as they are varied. It will be difficult to analyze them without tracing the events that were unfolding in the East African region during the last quarter of the 19 th Century.
This period was characterized by active involvement of the British in the enforcement of abolition of slave trade in East Africa . In this effort they had the support of the Sultan of Zanzibar. The Sultan was under increasing pressure not only from independent minded subjects like the Mazrui family, but also from his own troops who like the Mazrui family didn’t believe in the abolition of slave trade. The slave trade was one of the major sources of income during the material time.
During the same period other European nations were also developing an interest in acquiring spheres of influence in Africa . In this rivalry the British established the Imperial British East Africa Company to take care of its interests. As these interests developed and expanded, there was need to create a more formidable force to safeguard these interests and expansion. It is out of this that the first indigenous land forces in Kenya can be traced.
In 1873 the Sultan of Zanzibar, Seyyid Barghash signed the final treaty to abolish slave trade in all his dominions. The task of enforcing the abolition was vested on the British Royal Navy Fleet under Admiral Freeman Tie. The British Resident Consul Sir John Kirk and the Sultan realized that this could only be achieved through the establishment of a reliable Land Force, which could be used in the hinterland as opposed to the British Patrol boats whose operations were limited to the coastal region.