Kenya's Constitutional Crisis
March 1957 will live in history as the turning point in Kenya and African politics. In that month the desires and aspirations of some five million Africans were fulfilled as Ghana gained independence, and the hopes for self-government of millions of other Africans in trusteeship and non-self-governing areas were raised. Ghana's independence exploded once and for all the myth of African inferiority to the European. Whilst Ghana celebrated her independence on March 6 Kenya Africans celebrated the first election of Africans to the Legislative Council (Legco) on March 10. Despite the unsatisfactory franchise and the existence of a large body of illiterate voters, the poll averaged 83 percent, and in one constituency it was as high as 96 percent; the lowest was about 70 percent. This made nonsense of persistent European claims that the Afri- can is not yet ready for the vote. Voting qualifications for Africans were based on income, property, education, age, tenure in some offices, and military service. Under the multiple vote system, the Africans' vote could be counted up to three times depending on the number of qualifications he possessed. I make this point because, apart from the fact that this system was deliberately discriminatory in that Europeans and Asians have adult suffrage, the present African Members of the Legco (MLC's) are the products of a system specially designed by the Government to ensure the election of the most responsible and moderate leaders among the Africans!