Profile picture
H i s t o r yK E @HistoryKE
, 60 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
1/60 #HistoryKeThread: The Army Mutiny Of 1964 - During the last week of January of 1964, the armies of Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya staged mutinies as if in synchronized succession.
2/60 The three armies had one thing in common. They had all emerged from the King’s African Rifles.
3/60 But they also had grievances in common. Soldiers demanded higher pay, and the removal of expatriate British officers from their ranks.
4/60 In Kenya, members of Lanet-based 11th Battalion of the Kenya Rifles broke into the armoury. They demanded to air their grievances through Prime Minister Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in person.
5/60 Although the armies made no real attempt to seize power, the three East African governments required British assistance to help quell the mutinies. In Uganda and Tanzania, matters were handled smoothly. Pay was increased and grievances addressed quickly.
6/60 It was in Kenya where things were a bit dicey. Troops had laid a siege on the armoury. Of the three EA countries, the Kenyans staged a mutiny last, and did not want to be the only ones in East Africa left with their grievances unaddressed.
7/60 Anyway, let’s look at the situation in the country and armed forces at the time when the mutiny took place.
8/60 By early 1964, a vast majority of the troops in Kenya had received no further than a primary school education. About 75% of the entire military comprised of servicemen drawn from minority tribes, viz. the Kalenjin, Kamba, Samburu, Maasai and Northern...
9/60 ...Frontier pastoral communities.
10/60 It was not easy to rise to officer ranks if one did not have a secondary school education. Moreover, KANU politicians, a majority of whom were themselves considered to hail from “non-martial” ethnic groups, pressed the army to broaden its recruiting base...
11/60 reflect more accurately the ethnic makeup of Kenya.
12/60 Unlike Nyerere and Obote of Tanzania and Uganda respectively, Mzee Kenyatta knew that he was dealing with a mutiny staged by soldiers from minority communities. Yet one of Mzee’s stated priorities was to build a strong, cohesive state.
13/60 Just before the mutiny, some media reports said that Mzee had been advised that troops had faith in neither the British military officers, nor in the army’s new civilian masters.
14/60 What was the beef that African troops had with white officers serving in the nascent army? They were perceived to stand in the way of promotions for the African soldiers.
15/60 Meanwhile, early 1964 was also the time around when disillusioned ex-Mau Mau fighters, who felt they were not granted their “share of the spoils of independence”, were threatening to return to the forests.
16/60 The economic inflation and introduction of graduated poll tax in Kenya wasn’t helpful either. The African troops expected that the new regime would be sympathetic to their plight and raise wages. A pay raise had been granted in 1962. But rising inflation...
17/60 ...and the graduated poll tax had wiped out much of the increment.
18/60 Morale in the military was low.
19/60 As Prime Minister of a newly independent republic, Mzee Kenyatta was finding it tough to navigate the country through the various storms. And now he faced mutineers who had much expectation, considering that their counterparts from Uganda and Tanzania...
20/60 ...had been granted handsome wishes after staging sit-ins.
21/60 In fact, it can be stated that the mutiny by members of the 11th battalion of the Kenya Rifles had been inspired by the mutinies in Uganda and Tanzania.
22/60 In these two other countries, their armies threatened violence, in effect holding their political leaders hostage. Improved pay was granted immediately. Expatriate British military officers were also quickly dismissed. All eyes were now on Kenya, which...
23/60 ...put all its three battalions on emergency alert.
24/60 The Commanding Officer of the 11th Kenya Rifles was Lt. Col. G.W. Stead. When his troops started lamenting about their work conditions, he moved in quickly to cool down tempers. He opted for open, baraza-like discussions.
25/60 Instead, he found himself drawn into talks about how well soldiers in Uganda and Tanzania had been rewarded. The KAR's old radio network was still intact, and members of the 11th battalion had monitored the events in Uganda and Tanganyika with great...
26/60 ...interest.
27/60 Soon afterwards, British intelligence warned Lt. Col. Stead that things were not well. It was then that he decided to call on members of the 3rd regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA), part of Britain’s remaining strategic military reserve in Kenya,...
28/60 keep watch on the Lanet armoury.
29/60 On the evening of Friday, 24th January 1964, a number of askaris gathered at Lanet to listen to Mzee Kenyatta’s speech on the radio. They hoped the Prime Minister would address the matter of their wages. He did not. In fact, he made absolutely no...
30/60 ...reference to the military.
31/60 Angered, the askaris turned rebellious and insubordinate. That very evening, a group of them broke into the Lanet armory and dragged the rest of the battalion out of bed to join the protest.
32/60 Alerted by sentries posted in the camp, the RHA quickly surrounded the Lanet Barracks while other British units secured strategic points in and around far away Nairobi.
33/60 By early morning, 25th January 1964, the RHA had captured the outer sections of Lanet and isolated the rebellious soldiers. Any askari who attempted to slip through his lines was fired upon by RHA gunners. One of them, who turned out to be the only...
34/60 ...casualty of the mutiny, attempted to make a dash to join his colleagues at the armoury. His name was Private Simon Kiprop, an army pay clerk. He was shot dead.
35/60 Elsewhere, British and loyalist African officers drove around in Land Rovers, warning askaris through loudspeakers that the Royal Horse Artillery would sweep the camp with "maximum force" unless they put down their arms. Throughout the episode, Mzee...
36/60 ...Kenyatta was kept abreast of goings-on.
37/60 But unlike his counterparts in Uganda and Tanzania, he refused to negotiate with the mutineers. He issued the following statement to the media that very Saturday.
38/60 “Those who took part in the Lanet incident have gravely broken military discipline and must be dealt with firmly. They will be dealt with according to military law. There will be no compromise on this, and I do not intend to meet them or to allow any of...
39/60 Ministers to negotiate with them.... I must warn all our people most firmly whether they be in the Army, Police, youth wing. Members of Parliament, or just members of the public, that the Government will deal most severely with any breaches of the...
40/60 ...peace or acts of disloyalty and destruction....”
41/60 Mzee was also concerned that some politicians would take advantage of the disturbances to make political capital. So he refused to acknowledge - publicly, at least, that the soldiers had genuine grievances. Bizarrely, Home Affairs Minister Oginga Odinga...
42/60 ...thought that Mzee’s Statement to the media was partially meant for him. Why? Because, by Odinga’s account, Mzee had called him and asked him to stay home.
43/60 So Oginga denied he had anything to do with the Lanet incident, instead blaming “malicious” British intelligence for creating a wedge between him and the Prime Minister.
44/60 As it turned out, Mzee’s statement to the media took the wind out of the sails of the mutiny. Fearing that they would be shot, most askaris offered to lay down their arms on condition that the British soldiers withdraw from the camp.
45/60 A few, numbering about twenty, however threatened to shoot their way out of the armoury, by which time reinforcements had arrived from Nairobi. They surrendered after RHA stormed the camp in ferret armored cars. The media reported that Mzee had...
46/60 ...personally authorized “extreme actions” by the British Army if the situation warranted it.
47/60 As calm slowly returned, Oginga sensationally claimed that expatriate British officers had deliberately provoked the mutiny to create an opportunity for British forces to intervene, thereby strengthening their influence and involvement in the Kenyan Army.
48/60The British charged back, suggesting to Mzee Kenyatta that Oginga and leftists in KANU were part of the conspiracy to topple the government.
49/60 This event alone, I have to say, somewhat created suspicions between Mzee Kenyatta and Mr. Oginga.
50/60 And although the Prime Minister downplayed the disturbances at Lanet, military investigators moved in to probe the mutiny. Men of the battalion were placed under one of three categories, depending on the extent to which they were involved.
51/60 The investigators classified 99 servicemen in the “red” category, whilst 158 were included in the “yellow” category. Those in the “green” category numbered 340, and they were all absorbed into the brand new 1st Kenya Rifles, the battalion that was...
52/60 ...created after the mutiny to replace the disbanded 11th KR.
53/60 These pioneer “green” soldiers are perhaps the reason, as I understand it, the motto of 1KR is “green fire”.
54/60 Anyway, of the 99 servicemen in the “red” category (76 of these were privates, the lowest rank in the military), about a third of them were convicted in court martials held in April and May of that year.
55/60 The soldiers were represented by the late lawyer Byron Georgiadis, a Kenyan of Greek extraction, and one of Kenya’s most respected legal minds. Faced with the problem that there were no African commanders to preside over a court martial, Prime Minister...
56/60 ...Mzee Kenyatta promoted Joe Ndolo to serve as President of the Court.
57/60 Interestingly, Ndolo (pictured atop Land Rover with Mzee), who later rose to be Army commander, would himself be dishonorably discharged from the military years later after being implicated in a failed 1971 coup plot.
58/60 I cannot conclude without pointing out something: that whereas Mzee Kenyatta refused to give in to the whims of the mutineers, Uganda readmitted nearly all mutineers into the army. Some military scholars aver that this imprudent move helped cement...
59/60 ...involvement of the Ugandan army into the country’s politics, and attribute Uganda’s tumultuous Idi Amin and military rule days to that blunder.
60/60 Green night, everyone.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to H i s t o r yK E
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!