Decolonising white Africa : examining the experiences of Kenyans

  • Richard Stuart Daglish

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


Legitimised during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through racial views based upon pseudo-scientific rhetoric, and routinely simplified in the present, historical literature about white colonial communities in Africa has struggled to offer a detailed analysis of the realities of day-to-day life. By contrast, those that remained in African colonies post-independence represent a group about which even less is known. This project adds to our understanding of British colonial history by offering a detailed analysis of the white Kenyan community, examining their experiences from the dawn of independence in 1963 through to the present. Based on more than fifty thematic interviews used to offer a reconstructive analysis, as well as field and archival work within East Africa, this project presents a nuanced qualitative study of cultural mobility and social identity in relation to Kenya’s white population. By scrutinising how the white Kenyan community fared through events such as the Mau Mau Emergency (1952-60), the independence period, the administration of Daniel Arap Moi (1978-2002), and the lingering influence of colonial memory in the present, original insights into the mentality of the former colonial community have been revealed. Far from the homogenous unit that jingoistic publications from the colonial period claimed, the white Kenyan community is shown to be a deeply fragmented and dynamic group. The success that the white Kenyan community has enjoyed post-independence, namely in the sense that they have not followed similar communities in Rhodesia and Algeria, is shown to be due to their ability to quickly and effectively react to emerging political and social trends. However, as those with any memory of the colonial period succumb to old age, the future of white Kenyan identity is made uncertain, with a new community developing in the present that is wholly separate from the group’s imperial past.
Date of Award22 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorStephen Robert Tyre (Supervisor)

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 18 February 2030

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