How British Government forced Sir Patrick Renison to resign as the Governor of Kenya and replaced him with Malcolm MacDonald.


In Nov,1962 as it became clear that black rule in Kenya was inevitable the British Government forced Sir Patrick Renison to resign as the Governor of Kenya and replaced him with Malcolm MacDonald.

Renison was considered more of a Squire than an astute governor.His stern character and dictatorial tendencies were no longer needed by the British who were looking for a Governor who could engage diplomacy in guarding their interests in the post independence Kenya. Renison’s lack of political foresight meant that’s his three years as Governor were disastrous and his handling of Kenyatta’s release was greatly criticised.

MacDonald on the other hand was a politician-diplomat who had served as a British member of parliament, cabinet secretary, High Commissioner to Canada and Governor-General of Malaya. The British hoped he could use his skills to prepare Kenya for independence in 1964, at the same time foster good relations between African nationalists and Britain.

By then,Kenya was the only country in East Africa which had not achieved independence, and its slow progress towards independence meant a delay in the achievement of an East African Federation. Yet the cry for Uhuru had been supplanted by the demand for an early general election.

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The three East African territories had common services, such as harbour, railways and airways, customs and scientific research organisation. These were managed under the East Africa Common Services Organization (EACSO), an embryonic administrative machine for the projected East Africa Federation matching the common market and customs union.

EACSO’s policy was in turn controlled by an authority made up of the chief ministers of the three countries. Because Kenya was still a British colony and had a coalition government in which Kenyatta and Ngala were uneasy bedfellows, arrangements were made for representation at the authority’s meeting to alternate between Kenyatta and Ngala.

Kawawa and Obote, who were the prime ministers of Tanganyika and Uganda respectively, were so frustrated by this alternation which they felt impeded the work of the Common Services Authority. As a result, a joint Tanganyika-Uganda delegation was sent to London to press for Kenya’s independence.

As Kenya became the object of its neighbors’ attention, the new governor, Malcolm MacDonald, was taking every step to accelerate Kenya towards independence. He increased the number of his weekly meetings of the council of ministers to hasten the completion of the constitution which was being drafted on the framework of regional system accepted by KADU and KANU at Lancaster.


Convinced with the urgency of election which had to take place before Kenya could gain internal self-government and eventually independence, MacDonald worked from breakfast to past dark , and cut out social functions in order to move elections from the anticipated June/July to May, which he did achieve.

Although the British had anticipated independence to come in 1964, MacDonald broke ranks with his country’s Government and sided with the African nationalists in pushing for early independence. This earned him confidence from African leaders who insisted on retaining him as Governor General, a position he held until Kenya became a republic in 1964.

The rapport he had struck with Africans was evident when all KANU ministers and MPs escorted him to the airport as he left Kenya as the last Governor General.

At the insistence of African leaders he returned again in 1965 as the first British High Commissioner to Kenya.

via Levin Opiyo


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