In 1945 Kenya was a colony of Great Britain. Workers were paid low wages and a wave of complaints led to threats of a strike. The British created the Phillips Committee to investigate the workers’ complaints. Forming the committee pacified the workers for a time, but by the end of 1946, workers in Mombasa were upset with the lack of change.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the political atmosphere in Kenya was characterized by brutal government repression and terror. Under the single-party rule of President Daniel arap Moi, any form of political dissension was swiftly met with government interrogation, detention, and torture. Many students, journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates were among those imprisoned for perceived anti-government statements, ideas, and actions.