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THE ROLE OF POST COLONIAL MEDIA IN THE CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS IN KENYA

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THE ROLE OF POST COLONIAL MEDIA IN THE CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS IN KENYA

ABSTRACT

This paper is about the role that media in Kenya has played in the development of the country especially with regards to the constitution making process.

The history of Kenya and roots of media in colonialism set the stage for the first constitution which is heavily derived from the British constitution.

Colonial media is discussed especially print and radio in post independence Kenya , their use and their effects on the Kenyan political situation . The role of political songs , art and literature in shaping the socio political landscape of Kenya is discussed.

Most importantly, the specific role that the media plays in the constitution making process and the development of Kenya .

BACKGROUND

Colonial Era Kenya:

The colonial history of Kenya dates from the Berlin Conference of 1885, when the European powers first partitioned East Africa into spheres of influence. In 1895, the U.K. Government established the East African Protectorate and, soon after, opened the fertile highlands to white settlers. The settlers were allowed a voice in government even before it was officially made a U.K. colony in 1920, but Africans were prohibited from direct political participation until 1944.

Resistance to Colonialism - the Mau Mau:

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule. During this period, African participation in the political process increased rapidly.

The History of the Kenyan Constitution

The first constitution was made in Lancaster Britain after a series of meetings and negotiations between the settlers , the colonial government and Kenya's founding fathers led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta , Ronald G. Ngala, Mr. L.R.M. Welwood; the Mwambao United Front, led by Mr. O. Basaddiq; and the Kenya Cross Benchers. In addition, the conference created two special Representative Groups to discuss matters relating to the Maasai Agreements of 1904 and 1911 and matters relating to the Northern Frontier District. This constitution heavily borrowed from the Westminster model. Making Kenya's first constitution a reflection of the colonialists principles .

Madaraka Day

Final constitutional review and consultations were held in Nairobi in February 1963 at which agreement was reached for an Internal Self Government to assume office on June 01, 1963 , and full independence six months later. Since then, June 01, 1963 is remembered and celebrated as Madaraka Day. A general election was held in the period May 18-25, 1963 ; out of which the Kenya African National Union led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta won an overall majority against the Kenya Democratic Union led by Mr. Ronald Gideon Ngala and the African People's Party led by Mr. Paul Joseph Ngei.

Jamuhuri Day

The constitutional provisions finalized in February, 1963 remained virtually the same.At midnight on December 11, 1963 , Kenya regained Independence from the United Kingdom.

Kenya remained a dominion within the British Commonwealth , with a Governor-General representing Her Majesty locally and a Government headed by a Prime Minister. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, leader of the majority party in Parliament, became the first Prime Minister, heading a cabinet of fifteen Ministers and thirteen Parliamentary Secretaries. The late Ronald Gideon Ngala, leader of K.A.D.U. and Mr. Paul Joseph Ngei, leader of A. P. P. formed a Coalition Opposition under leadership of the former.

Kenya's constitution at independence guaranteed a wide range of rights as well as a system of checks and balances on central power. However, ‘thirty-four years and nearly as many constitutional amendments later, that constitution has been changed so radically that much of its former character is mere palimpsest' (IEA 2002).

Most of the checks and balances have gone as power has been centralized in the role of the president; derogation from the bill of rights is allowed as long as the Preservation of Public Security Act remains in place, as it has since 1978 (ibid).

Constitution Making Process In Kenya

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