Representing the Kikuyu
Kenyatta had achieved a goal with the move to independent African educational institutions, although they were still opposed by the colonial authorities. He had also set in motion the pattern for his future opposition to colonialism.
A Move to the UK
In May 1931 Kenyatta once again left Kenya for London, to represent the Kikuyu Central Association, KCA, before a Parliamentary Commission on the 'Closer Union of East Africa', and once again he was ignored, this time despite the backing of Liberals in the House of Commons. (In the end the British government abandoned its plan for such a union.) Kenyatta headed north, to Birmingham, and enrolled at one of the Selly Oaks colleges for a year.
Kenyatta would stay away from Kenya for the next 15 years.
Having completed his course in Birmingham, Kenyatta returned to London and, in June 1932, he testified to the Morris Carter Kenya Land Commission on behalf of Kikuyu land claims -- the report which was not published until 1934, resulted in some of the appropriated territories being returned to the Kikuyu, but in general the 'White Highlands' policy of the colonial administration was maintained, restricting the Kikuyu to reservations.
Study in the Soviet Union
In August 1932 Kenyatta (who had joined the Communist Party) traveled to Moscow to study economics at the Moscow State University, under the sponsorship of Caribbean Pan-Africanist George Padmore. His sojourn came to an end when Padmore fell out of favor with the Soviets. Back in London he met up with other Black nationalists and Pan-Africanists, and even protested against the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1936.
University in London
In 1934 Kenyatta began his studies at University College, London, working on Arthur Ruffell Barlow's English-Kikuyu Dictionary. The following year he transferred to the London School of Economics, to study social anthropology under the renown Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski. Malinowski was a significant influence in Kenyatta's life -- as world leading ethnographer, and the creator of the social anthropological field known as functionalism (that a culture's ceremonies and rituals have a logic and function within the culture), Malinowski steered Kenyatta in his thesis on Kikuyu culture and tradition. Kenyatta published a revised version of his thesis as Facing Mount Kenya in 1938.
Facing Mount Kenya remains an important (even classic) work for its insights into the traditions of Kikuyu culture, written in a form which proved accessible to readers in the West. Kenyatta's assertion of the strong values inherent in Kikuyu society is not, however, without its controversies -- in particular Kenyatta's firm approval for the practice of Female Circumcision, which he claimed was so fundamental to Kikuyu culture that to end it, as colonial authorities and missionaries back in Kenya wished to do, would damage the culture as a whole. Facing Mount Kenya is still in print today.
In Britain During World War II
Effectively cut off in Britain from the KCA (which had been banned back in Kenya) by World War II, Kenyatta continued to campaign for Kikuyu rights -- publishing several books and pamphlets, including a study of the Kikuyu language. Kenyatta supported himself, and avoided being conscripted, by working as a farm laborer and lecturing for the Workers' Educational Association. He was even an extra in Alexander Korda film Sanders of the River (1943). In May 1942 he married for the second time, to an English governess, Edna Clark. Kenyatta's second son, Peter Magana, was born in August '42.
Pan-Africanism in London and Manchester
As the war progressed, Kenyatta became involved with a group of anti-colonial and African nationalists from around the African continent and the Diaspora. Dr Hastings Banda, the future president of Malawi, was stranded in London by World War II, and his house became a regular meeting place for Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), novelist Peter Abrahams (South African), journalist Isaac Wallace-Johnson (Sierra Leone), Harry Mawaanga Nkubula (Northern Rhodesia), as well as George Padmore and CLR James from the Caribbean. Together they formed the Pan-African Federation.
Fifth Pan-African Congress
WEB Du Bois had organized the first Pan-African Congress held in Paris in 1919 (an earlier congress in London in 1900 did not use the title 'Pan-African'), and further congresses were held in 1921, 1923, and 1927. In London, in October 1945, Padmore and Nkrumah arranged for the fifth (and final) congress to be held in Manchester (they also formally created the Pan-African Federation the following year). Attended by 90 delegates, roughly a third from Africa, a third from the West Indies, and a third from British institutions and organizations. WEB Du Bois, at the grand age of 77, was the chair. The congress discussed plans for nationalist movements across the continent of Africa, demanded independence from colonial rule, and end to racial discrimination, and set the ground work for African unity. It was all but completely ignored by the international press.
Return to Kenya
Kenyatta returned to Kenya in September 1946, abandoning his British wife Edna. Kenyatta was soon married once more, to Grace Wanjiku (who died in childbirth in 1950), and he took up the post of principal at the Kenya Teachers College in Githunguri. He was also invited to lead the newly formed Kenya African Union, KAU, of which he became president in 1947. Over the next few years Kenyatta traveled around Kenya giving lectures and campaigning for independence. In September 1951 he married his forth wife, Ngina Muhoho.
Mau Mau Rebellion
The Kenyan Crown Colony was still dominated by white settler interests, and the dangerous explosion he had predicted in The Times in 1930 became a reality -- the Mau Mau Rebellion. Seen as a subversive from his call for independence and support for nationalism, Kenyatta was implicated in the Mau Mau movement by the British authorities, and on 21 October 1952 he was arrested.