Fabian Society

Jomo Kenyatta


Jomo Kenyatta was born in Ngenda around 1895. After moving to Nairobi, he became involved in the political and cultural life. He became general secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) in 1928. In March 1929 he travelled to Britain on behalf of the KCA with Isher Dass, an Indian lawyer living in Nairobi. He had hoped to meet the imperial authorities but only briefly met senior officials at the Colonial Office. However, he established contacts with other anti-colonial activists in London and the Communist Party like George Padmore and Shapurji Saklatvala.

Kenyatta returned to Africa in 1930 but was back in Britain in 1931. He stayed almost continuously until 1946, with the exception of a few trips to Europe. During this period he was admitted to the London School of Economics to study anthropology under Professor Malinowski. Here, he wrote a number of articles that were later published as Facing Mount Kenya (1938). During this time, he also met a small group of black activists and campaigners, including C. L. R. James, Kwame Nkrumah, Peter Abrahams, Eric Williams and Paul Robeson. He also associated with the India League and the League of Coloured Peoples and met Gandhi when he visited London in November 1931. Throughout the 1930s, Kenyatta attended India League meetings and would have come into contact with Krishna Menon. In September 1939, Makhan Singh, the General Secretary of the Labour Trade Union of East Africa, asked Kenyatta and Krishna Menon to represent his organization at a conference planned for the end of September in Brussels. However, because of the outbreak of the Second World War, the conference never took place.

Through his involvement in the Pan-African Federation, Kenyatta would possibly have met Jawaharlal Nehru. Kenyatta knew N. G. Ranga from early on. In 1945, Kenyatta attended the fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester along with Amy Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Ras Makonnen, Surat Alley, and George Padmore among others. He participated in Fabian Society conferences on post-war colonial affairs. Kenyatta returned to Kenya in September 1946 where he assumed leadership of the Kenya African Union. After the Mau Mau uprising in 1952, he was arrested in 1953 and spent the next seven years in prison. In 1962, he returned to London to negotiate the terms of a Kenyan constitution on behalf of the Kenya African National Union before being elected prime minister in June 1963. Kenya became independent in December 1963 and Kenyatta became president the next year. He ruled Kenya until his death on 22 August 1978.

Published works: 

'Kenya', in Nancy Cunard (ed.) Negro: An Anthology (London: Wishart, 1934), pp. 803-7

'Kikuyu Religion, Ancestor-Worship, and Sacrificial Practices', Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 19.3 (1937), pp. 308-28

Facing Mount Kenya: The Tribal Life of the Gikuyu (London: Secker & Warburg, 1938)

My People of Kikuyu, and the Life of Chief Wangombe (London: United Society for Christian Literature, 1942)

Kenya: The Land of Conflict (Manchester: Panaf Service, 1945)

Harambee! The Prime Minister of Kenya's Speeches, 1963-1964 ... The Text Edited and Arranged by Anthony Cullen, etc [With Portraits] (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1964)

Suffering withour Bitterness: The Founding of the Kenya Nation (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1968)

The Challenge of Uhuru: The Progress of Kenya 1968 to 1970: Selected and Prefaced Extracts from the Pubic Speeches of His Excellency Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya (Nairobi: East African Publishing House; Birmingham: Third World Publications, 1971)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1895

Peter Abrahams, Ralph Bunche, Isher Dass (travel companion on Kenyatta's first trip to London), Fenner Brockway, N. G. Ranga, M. K. Gandhi (through the League of Coloured Peoples), C. L. R. James, Alexander Korda (extra in Korda's Sanders of the River),Kingsley Martin, Harold Moody, Kwame Nkrumah, Paul Robeson, George Padmore, Shapurji Saklatvala, Eric Williams.

Contributions to periodicals: 

'Give Back Our Land', Sunday Worker 242 (27 October 1929), p. 3

'An African People Rise in Revolt', Daily Worker 17 (20 January 1930), p. 4

'A General Strike Drowned in Blood', Daily Worker 18 (21 January 1930), p. 10

'Unrest in Kenya', Manchester Guardian (18 March 1930), p. 6

The Times (26 March 1930), p. 12

'The Gold Rush in Kenya', Labour Monthly 15 (1933), pp. 691-5

'Hands off Abyssinia!', Labour Monthly 17 (1935)

Labour Monthly

New Statesman and Nation (27 June 1936)


Precise DOB unknown: 

Barlow, A. R., Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 12.1 (1939), pp. 114-16 (Facing Mount Kenya)

Cullen, Young, Journal of the Royal African Society 37 (1938), pp. 522-3 (Facing Mount Kenya)

Secondary works: 

Adi, Hakim, and Sherwood, Marika, The 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress Revisited (London: New Beacon Books, 1995)

Amin, Mohamed, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta: A Photobiography (Nairobi: Marketing & Publishing, 1978)

Archer, Jules, African Firebrand: Kenyatta of Kenya (New York: J. Messner, 1969)

Arnold, Guy, Kenyatta and the Politics of Kenya (London: Dent, 1974)

Assensoh, A. B., African Political Leadership: Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, and Julias K. Nyerere (Malabar, FL: Krieger Publications, 1998)

Beck, Ann, 'Some Observations on Jomo Kenyatta in Britain, 1929-1930', Cahiers d'Études Africaines 6 (1966), pp. 308-29.

Bennett, George, Kenya: A Political History: The Colonial Period (London: Oxford University Press, 1963)

Berman, Bruce, Control and Crisis in Colonial Kenya: The Dialectic of Domination (London: James Currey, 1990)

Berman, Bruce J., 'Kenyatta, Jomo (c. 1895-1978)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/31305]

Berman, Bruce, and Lonsdale, John, Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya and Africa (London: Currey, 1992)

Chege, Michael, 'Africans of European Descent', Transition 73 (1997), pp. 74-86.

Cuthbert, Valerie, Jomo Kenyatta: The Burning Spear (Harlow: Longman, 1982)

Delf, George, Jomo Kenyatta: Towards Truth About 'The Light of Kenya' (London: Victor Gollancz, 1961)

Friedmann, Julian, Jomo Kenyatta (London: Wayland, 1975)

Fryer, Peter, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto, 1984)

Good, Kenneth, 'Kenyatta and the Organization of KANU', Canadian Journal of African Studies/Revue Canadienne des Études Africaines 2.2 (1968), pp. 115-36.

Howarth, Anthony, Kenyatta: A Photographic Biography (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1967)

Knauss, Peter, 'From Devil to Father Figure: The Transformation of Jomo Kenyatta by Kenya Whites', Journal of Modern African Studies 9.1 (1971), pp. 131-7.

Makonnen, Ras, and King, Kenneth, Pan-Africanism from Within (Nairobi; London: Oxford University Press, 1973)

Malhotra, Veena, Kenya under Kenyatta (Delhi: Kalinga Publications, 1990)

McClellan, Woodford, 'Africans and Black Americans in the Comintern Schools, 1925-1934', International Journal of African Historical Studies 26 (1993), pp. 371-90

Murray-Brown, Jeremy, Kenyatta (London: Allen and Unwin, 1972)

Ng'weno, Hilary, The Day Kenyatta Died (Nairobi: Longman Kenya, 1978)

Pegushev, A., 'The Unknown Jomo Kenyatta', Edgerton Journal 1/2 (1996), pp. 173-98

Savage, D., 'Jomo Kenyatta, Malcolm Macdonald and the Colonial Office, 1938-9', Canadian Journal of African Studies 3 (1970), pp. 315-32

Slater, Montagu, The Trial of Jomo Kenyatta (London: Secker & Warburg, 1955)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Wepman, Dennis, Jomo Kenyatta (New York: Chelsea House, 1985)

Archive source: 

PRO CO 533/384/9, fols. 86-7, Scotland Yard report, 18 June 1929, National Archives, Kew, UK

PRO CO 533/501/11, Scotland Yard report, National Archives, Kew, UK

Documentary footage, National Film and Television Archive, British Film Institute, London

News footage in the National Film and Television Archive, British Film Institute, London

Documentary footage, Film and Video Archive, Imperial War Museum, London

News footage, Film and Video Archive, Imperial War Museum, London

Oral history interview, Sound Archive, Imperial War Museum, London

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
British East Africa
Current name country of birth: 
Other names: 

Kamau wa Ngengi, Johnstone Kamau, Johnstone Kenyatta

Date of death: 
22 Aug 1978
Location of death: 
Mombasa, Kenya
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
08 Mar 1929
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

8 March 1929 - September 1930; 22 May 1931 - 5 September 1946


57 Castletown Road, London W14 (Boarded with Ladipo Solanke, leader of the West African Students' Union)

23 Cambridge Street, London

95 Cambridge Street, London

Quaker Woodbrook College, Selly Oak, Birmingham

University College, London

London School of Economics, London

Storington, Sussex

Emmeline Pankhurst


Emmeline Pankhurst was one of the foremost suffragettes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century period in Britain, whose tireless campaigning in the face of family tragedy, police brutality and failing personal health has made her an icon of British politics. She was born on either 14 or 15 July 1858 (see Purvis p. 9 for discussion of this matter).

Emmeline married the barrister and political activist Richard Pankhurst in 1879. The Pankhursts were close friends of Keir Hardie, founder of the Labour Party. They were also early members of the Fabian Society following their move to London in 1886. In the spring of 1900 (two years after Richard’s death), Pankhurst left the Fabian Society on account of its refusal to oppose the Boer War, which she interpreted as an act of imperial aggression.

Visitors to the Pankhursts' Russell Square home in the 1880s included Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian to become an MP. Later Indian connections included Emmeline’s work with the prominent suffragettes Princesses Sophia and Catherine Duleep Singh, daughters of Maharaja Duleep Singh (last Maharaja of the Sikh empire in Punjab) and his first wife Bamba Müller. Sophia was also the god-daughter of Queen Victoria, and marched with Pankhurst to Parliament on 'Black Friday' in 1910.

During the First World War, opposing two of her daughters, Sylvia and Adela, Pankhurst campaigned with her eldest daughter Christabel for the war effort. In 1916 and again in 1920, Pankhurst addressed the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, a Canadian society initially founded in 1900 to promote patriotism for those leaving to fight in South Africa. In 1920 Pankhurst spoke of the need for women to be loyal to the Empire in order to aid recovery in the aftermath of the war. By 1925, Pankhurst espoused a ‘maternal, imperial feminism that gave high priority to women’s role in raising the moral tone of the nation and Empire’ (Purvis, p. 338).

Emmeline Pankhurst unsuccessfully stood as Conservative candidate for Whitechapel and St George’s in 1926. The Conservative Party was then under the leadership of Stanley Baldwin, for whom Pankhurst proposed a vote of thanks at a large Conservative Party meeting in the Albert Hall, London. The revelation in the press that her estranged daughter Sylvia had had a child out of wedlock horrified Emmeline, and curtailed her campaign. She died two years later, the same year as equal voting rights were extended to women in Britain.

Published works: 

My Own Story (London: Eveleigh Nash, 1914)

Date of birth: 
14 Jul 1858

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Stanley Baldwin, Lord Curzon, Charlotte Despard, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Mohandas K. Gandhi, David Lloyd George, Keir HardieDadabhai Naoroji, Sylvia Pankhurst, Catherine Duleep Singh, Sophia Duleep Singh.

Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, Independent Labour Party (joined 1893, left in 1903 on account of the hall dedicated to her husband not admitting women), Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage (joined 1880), Women’s Franchise League, Women’s Liberal Association (left 1893), Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Suffragette (aka Britannia)

Votes for Women

Secondary works: 

Bartley, Paula, Emmeline Pankhurst (London: Routledge, 2002)

Chaudhuri, Nupur, and Strobel, Margaret, (eds.), Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and resistance (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1992)

Grewal, Inderpal, Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel (London: Leicester University Press, 1996)

MacKenzie, Norman and Jeanne, The Fabians (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1977)

Pankhurst, Christabel, Unshackled: The Story of How We Won the vote (London: Hutchinson, 1959)

Pankhurst, E[stelle] Sylvia, The Life of Emmeline Pankhurst: The Suffragette Struggle for Women’s Citizenship (London: T. Werner Laurie, 1935)

Pankhurst, E[stelle] Sylvia, India and the Earthly Paradise (Bombay: Sunshine Publishing House, 1926)

Purvis, Jane and Holton, Sandra Stanley (eds), Votes for Women (London: Routledge, 2000)

Purvis, Jane, Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography (London: Routledge, 2002)

Archive source: 

Letters and papers, Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam

Manuscripts, Suffragette Fellowship Collection, Museum of London

Correspondence with the Independent Labour Party, British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics

Correspondence, Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University, London

Letters to C. P. Scott, John Rylands University Library of Manchester

Correspondence with Adelaide Johnson, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

City of birth: 
Hulme, Lancashire
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Emmeline Goulden

Date of death: 
14 Jun 1928
Location of death: 
Tags for Making Britain: 

Edward Carpenter


Edward Carpenter was an English poet, social theorist and campaigner, and has been described as an early gay activist. As a proponent of an alternative, anti-industrial mode of life and an advocate of sexual freedom, he exercised a significant influence on progressive social thought at the turn of the century.

Born in Hove in 1844, he was educated at Brighton College before going up to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the scene of his homosexual awakening accompanied by romantic rejection. After leaving university, he visited male prostitutes in libertine Paris before entering the Church of England as a Christian socialist curate. Heavily influenced by the poetry of Walt Whitman and increasingly wearied by the hypocrisy of Victorian society, he soon left the Church and travelled to Yorkshire with the intention of educating workingmen, settling in Sheffield in 1882. Here he became increasingly politically engaged, joining the Socialist League in 1884. Like Gandhi, with whom he later corresponded, he was moved by Ruskin to reject the system of industrial capitalism, and advocated the back-to-the-earth Communist society idealized in Morris’ News from Nowhere. Inheriting his father’s fortune, he purchased a home at Millthorpe, Derbyshire, in 1882 and there began his soon-to-be iconic life of market gardening, poetry and hand-crafting the footwear he is credited with introducing from India: sandals.

Drawn increasingly to Hindu philosophy, he travelled to India and Ceylon in 1890. He stayed at the home of a college friend Ponnambalam Arunachalam and climbed Adam’s Peak in the company of Kalua, a lascar whom he had met on the steamer to Colombo. Following conversations with the guru Ramaswamy (known as the Gnani), he developed the conviction that socialism would bring about a revolution in human consciousness as well as of economic conditions. After returning to England, a chance meeting in a railway carriage led to his lifelong romance with George Merrill, a Sheffield workingman who joined him at Millthorpe in 1898. Undeterred by Wilde’s conviction in 1895, Carpenter insisted that ‘Uranian’ relationships could bring about a social levelling, and a stay at Millthorpe in 1912 gave E. M. Forster the outline of Maurice. From the cottage, now a social hub for radicals, he campaigned for environmentalism, animal rights, sexual freedom, pacifism and the Women’s Movement, while in London he encountered a lifelong friend and influence in Rabindranath Tagore. Although he did not travel again to India, friends such as Charlotte Despard, James and Margaret Cousins, Sarojini Naidu, Romain Rolland and Henry Salt continued to connect him to the subcontinent and its freedom struggle. A significant figure in the Fabian Society, he was in 1893 a founder member of the Independent Labour Party. He died in 1929 and was buried with Merrill at Mount Cemetery in Guildford, Surrey.

Published works: 

‘Narcissus’ and Other Poems (1873)

Towards Democracy (1883)

Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure (1889)

From Adam's Peak to Elephanta: Sketches in Ceylon and India (1892)

Homogenic Love and its Place in a Free Society (1894)

Love's Coming of Age (1896)

Angels' Wings: Essays on Art and its Relation to Life (1898)

Iolaus - Anthology of Friendship (1908)

The Intermediate Sex (1912)

The Healing of Nations (1915)

My Days and Dreams (1916)

Towards Industrial Freedom (1917)

Pagan and Christian Creeds (1920)

Friends of Walt Whitman (1923)

Date of birth: 
29 Aug 1844

Annie Besant, Charlotte Despard, G. Lowes Dickinson, Havelock Ellis, E. M. Forster, M. K. Gandhi, Keir Hardie, Henry Hyndman, Frank Maurice, George Merrill, William Morris, Sarojini Naidu, Henry S. Salt, Olive Schreiner, G. B. Shaw, John Addington Symonds, Rabindranath Tagore, Walt Whitman.

Christian Socialists, Independent Labour Party, Social Democratic Federation, Socialist League.

Secondary works: 

Brown, Tony and Corns, Thomas N., Edward Carpenter and Late Victorian Radicalism (London: Routledge, 1990)

Ellis, Edith Mary, Three Modern Seers: James Hinton, Nietzsche and Edward Carpenter (London: 1910)

Lewis, Edward, Edward Carpenter: An Exposition And An Appreciation (London: Methuen, 1915)

Rowbotham, Sheila, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty of Love (London: Verso, 2009)

Tsuzuki, Chushichi, Edward Carpenter 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980)

Archive source: 

Carpenter Archive, Sheffield

Involved in events: 

Foundation of the Independent Labour Party, 1893

City of birth: 
Hove, Sussex
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
28 Jun 1929
Location of death: 
Guildford, Surrey
Tags for Making Britain: 
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