Kenya That was Never Kenyan:

The Shifta War & The North Eastern Kenya

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“the Special District Ordinance of 1934, was meant to hinder social interaction between different groups in the NFD. It demarcated the area into tribal zones in order to prevent Islam from galvanizing the people in the NFD against the colonial administration...”

Despite these draconian policies that the colonial administration effected to control people in the NFD, winds of political activity were certainly blowing, especially from Mogadishu. In 1943, the Somali Youth League was formed representing the interests of different Somali clans and espousing a Pan-Somalism ideal of uniting all the Somali under one country. The SYL, even as the 1950–60 Italian trusteeship administration tried to muzzle it, spread its influence across the entire Somali-inhabited region including the NFD, where it even had offices and support from clan elders, thus raising the urge of the NFD Somali to join their fellow tribesmen and women in Somalia. The British government attempted to curtail these political developments by proscribing the SYL in the “closed district” and limiting Somali representation in national politics. For instance, the residents of the NFD were not allowed to vote in the 1957 national elections and in 1959, just a single Somali member was nominated to the legislature to “look after their interests.” Under pressure, the British administration lifted its ban on political parties in 1960. This move consequently ushered in the formation of political parties such as the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) and the Northern Province People’s Progressive Party (NPPPP). While KANU and KADU had more nationalistic goals, the NPPPP, given the separatist feelings that the British isolationist policy in the NFD had created, proclaimed its intention of seeking self-determination independently from the rest of Kenya and instead joining the Somali Republic. As the NPPPP was formed, simultaneously, the merger between the Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland was crystallizing. This integration of the two Somali Lands could only fuel the pan-Somalism feelings in the NFD. The new unity government in the Somali Republic under the leadership of Dr Ali Shirmarke proclaimed vehemently, even under its constitution, its desire to pursue the dream of bringing the remaining three Somali-inhabited territories-the NFD, the Ogaden and the French Somaliland- into the fold to create a Greater Somalia. The symbolic Somali flag at independence in 1960, with its five-pointed star against a sky-blue background, served as a reminder to the irredentist ambitions of the Somali Republic. The NFD was the fourth point on the star on the flag.Therefore, even as Kenya prepared for her impending independence, the battle lines for the NFD were starting to emerge, with the Somali Republic and the NPPPP on one side and the Kenyan nationalists on the other, and with the British as an important player too.

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