Our roots lie in the regiments formed in the 1890s by the Imperial British East Africa Company and led by their agents: the Uganda Rifles, the Central African Regiment and the East African Rifles.
The Regiment’s history dates from 1 January 1902, when these regiments were reorganised and renamed to form the six battalions of the King’s African Rifles, as the instrument of civilised authority and defender of Empire in what then the colonies of Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Kenya and Uganda.
Following the demise of German East Africa in 1918, a further battalion was formed in Tanganyika. From its formation to Independence in the early sixties, the Regiment’s officers and some senior NCOs were primarily seconded from the British Army.
The Regiment fought with distinction in both World Wars against the armies of Germany, Italy, Vichy France and Japan, gaining the proud battle honours: British Somaliland, Abyssinia, Madagascar and Burma. It then played a leading role in post war operations against the Communists in Malaya and the Mau Mau in Kenya, before the final chapter in the early sixties, when as each nation achieved Independence, the regiment divided, to re-emerge at the heart of their national armies, where our customs and traditions still flourish.
The King’s African Rifles Officers’ Dinner Club, the forbear of the Association, was formed in 1947 for those who had served in the King’s African Rifles, including the Northern Rhodesia Regiment (NRR), the Somaliland Scouts, the Kenya Regiment (KR), and the arms and services which directly supported them. The Dinner Club changed its constitution in 1999 to become the present Association, broadening its remit slightly to include fund raising for retired askari, and support for regional events, but retaining the London Gathering, now since 2020, a Luncheon with our ladies, as its principal event. The membership, including Family & Friends members, now stands at approximately 300 world wide, which is remarkable, bearing in mind that the Regiments ceased to exist over 60 years ago.
In addition to the website the Association also produces a biannual journal, Rhino Link, which is distributed to subscribing members. In addition to information on forthcoming events and people, it also contains many articles reflecting members’ unique experiences of the life and people of East Africa in the decades prior to Independence. The Journal also includes a healthy exchange of correspondence from a variety of members and friends of the Association with an interest in the KAR. The membership’s collective knowledge of this era represents a unique “living” historical archive, which may prove to be of true value to historians in the future.
Our official historian, Lt Colonel Dr H Moyse-Bartlett, in 1956 wrote of the KAR: “No Regiment has ever been more intimately connected with the territories through which it marched and fought, or with the people from whom it recruited.”
Those who have drunk from the waters of Africa
will have it running through their veins for the rest of their life.