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Why colonial settlers named cows after Kenyan MPs

 Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Bruce McKenzie. [File, Standard]

In the fog of colonial rule's end in Kenya, some white supremacists protested in a unique way. A group of settlers, who could still not fathom the idea of an African government ruling, created their mock parliament and named some of their cows after prominent leaders in the government of Jomo Kenyatta.

Vice President Daniel Moi told Parliament in 1965: "…the immigrant communities… must not adopt a racist attitude and they must respect the African people...  in one or two instances some farmers are known to have held mock parliaments... they have given their cattle names of prominent leaders in the House in Kenya.”

The government acted swiftly against the supremacists who it unceremoniously bundled out of Kenya. When one of them was informed that he was being deported, Moi told Parliament: "This person ... when approached by officials informing him of his deportation, made remarks that he can employ the whole of our General Service Unit.”

News that Wing Commander Gerald Alfred Wellesley Saunders, the prominent Molo farmer who had been on the Settlement Board and four other hawkish settlers had been deported rocked London.

Saunders, a decorated World War II veteran, was banished from Kenya alongside Golding, who, on one occasion, shot an African woman and was fined Sh600. Rowbotham and Breckenbridge had all along been anti-African.

At the heart of these deportations which Kenya’s High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Josephat Karanja, explained was not an affront to white farmers, was the controversial 400,000 acres purchase scheme.

The purchase which was to be executed in phases over a four-year period was to be funded by a £‎6.3 million (about Sh951.3 million) interest-free loan, unlike the 1 million acre scheme where Britain had given £18 million.

Under this 400,000-acre scheme, the Kenyan government was to purchase 100,000 acres of mixed farms every year. Although the purchase was to be on a willing buyer willing seller, some white settlers rejected government valuation reports.

In a bid to pressurise the Kenya government to buy the farms at premium rates, some settlers contracted private valuers to hike the prices of their land.

It is against this background that the 400,000-acre land purchase programme was described by some opposition leaders in London as a spectacular failure.

Moi summed up the situation when he explained, "The deportations are being made on an individual basis... Of the five Europeans being deported today, these represent a hardcore element which is not reflective of those who live here in peace."

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