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Kenya (British Colony)

Last modified: 2003-04-12 by
Keywords: kenya | red lion |
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Kenya Governor's flag

[Governor's flag] by António Martins, 28 November 1999 See also:

Blue Ensign

[Kenya blue ensign] by António Martins, 28 Nov 1999

The flag of British East Africa is the national banner of the Empire, bearing upon the intersection of the crosses a red lion, rampant, or aggressively walking forward on his hind legs...encircled by a wreath. No explanation why British East Africa doesn't follow the badge-ensign model.
Josh Fruhlinger, 13 Feb 1996

The Blue Ensign of Kenya, used until 1963 was a traditional blue ensign with the Union Jack in the upper left corner and a blue background. It had a white disk on the fly, which contained a red lion standing on its hind legs.
James Alcock, 12 Oct 1999


Governor-General's flag (1963-1964)

[Governor-General's flag] by Zeljko Heimer, 22 Mar 2003

We have no info on this briefly (if ever) used flag. From Flags of The World' by Bill Yenne, Published by Bison Books, 1993.
Zeljko Heimer, 22 Mar 2003


Badge

[Kenya badge] scan by Jarig Bakker, 13 October 1999

I found three flags and a badge of the Kenya colony without much explanation in Kannik's 'Vlaggen, Standaarden en Wapens' (n.d.): The blue ensign has the red lion without the white disk. The lion is "red ensign red":The other two flags are: Governor of Kenya and the Merchant flag of Kenya - red ensign with lion in the fly in a white disk:
Jarig Bakker, 13 October 1999


Red Ensign


[Kenya merchant flag] by António Martins, 28 November 1999


The Use of the Badge

It seems that the "Red Lion badge" was never warranted for use on the Red Ensign, and is an error. The earliest book that I have found, that shows the "red lion badge" on a Red Ensign is the NGM of 1917 in which it is the only colonial (as opposed to Dominion) badge that is shown in place on all three flags, the UJ, the Blue Ensign and the Red Ensign. This has been copied by Kannik in the Flag Book/Handbook of Flags of the 1950's.

Hulme in "Flags of the World", published in about 1895 wrote, "British East Africa has the crown and beneath it the golden sun shooting forth its rays, one of the simplest, most appropriate, and most pleasing of all the colonial devices; when placed in the centre of the Governor's flag it is upon a white disc, and the sun has eight principal rays. When for use on the red or blue ensigns, the sun has twelve principle rays and both golden sun and crown are placed directly upon the field of the flag."
David Prothero, 1 Dec 1999


Uncertainty about the Red Lion badge

It seems that the "Red Lion badge" was never warranted for use on the Red Ensign, and is an error. There was an earlier badge for British East Africa, that of the Imperial British East Africa Company. Hulme in "FOTW", published in about 1895 wrote: "British East Africa has the crown and beneath it the golden sun shooting forth its rays, one of the simplest, most appropriate, and most pleasing of all the colonial devices; when placed in the centre of the Governor's flag it is upon a white disc, and the sun has eight principal rays. When for use on the red or blue ensigns, the sun has twelve principle rays and both golden sun and crown are placed directly upon the field of the flag." The Admiralty Warrant of 6th March 1890 for a defaced Red Ensign is for this badge. The protectorate was proclaimed in 1890 and administered by the Company until 1895. This suggests that the badge, as a flag defacement, went out of use in 1895. The date of the amendment which inserts the "red lion badge" into the Admiralty Flag Book (June 1896) then makes more sense. Thus the "red lion badge" was never warranted. It didn't need a warrant for the Union Jack or Blue Ensign, but it would have needed one for the Red Ensign. The earliest book that I have found, that shows the "red lion badge" on a Red Ensign is the NGM of 1917 in which it is the only colonial (as opposed to Dominion) badge that is shown in place on all three flags, the UJ, the Blue Ensign and the Red Ensign. This has been copied by Kannik in the Flag Book/Handbook of Flags of the 1950's. The 1934 National Geographic Magazine shows only the badge with the text: "Kenya displays a red lion rampant guardant on its badge. It is used as illustrated on the Blue Ensign, and on the Union Flag it is displayed on a circular white disk and surrounded with the regulation laurel wreath."  Wheeler-Holohan in FOTW 1939 wrote: "Whoever designed the badge of Kenya was no heraldic artist, for it is a very poor specimen of a lion rampant guardant in red. On the Blue Ensign it has no white background, but when shown on the Union Flag the background is encircled with the garland." This is repeated word for word in the 1953 edition by Gresham Carr.

Letters of the early 1920's in the Public Record Office, about whether or not colonial badges were displayed in a white circle, make no mention of a Red Ensign for Kenya. However they indicate that the "red lion badge" was displayed on a white circle on the Blue Ensign until 1921.

The sequence of badges/flags seems to have been:-

David Prothero, 30 Nov 1999

A brief history of Kenya

1890: Kenya became a British territory as the East African Protectorate.
1891: It was administered by the Imperial British East Africa Company.
1895: Put under the control of the Foreign Office which appointed a Commissioner.
1905: Control of the territory was transferred to the Colonial Office.
1906: A Governor was appointed.
1920: Part of the mainland territories of the Sultan of Zanzibar became the Protectorate of Kenya, and the remainder became Kenya Colony. Known officially as the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya; in brief as Kenya.

David Prothero, 29 November 1999 


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