Communal Labor in Colonial Kenya: The Legitimization of by Opolot Okia (auth.)

By Opolot Okia (auth.)

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Extra info for Communal Labor in Colonial Kenya: The Legitimization of Coercion, 1912–1930

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He believed that by inculcating work habits within the reserves, the wants and needs of Africans would rise in support of a market. 82 As we detail in Chapter 4, despite these statements, Ainsworth would come to support forced labor through his association with the first of Northey’s forced labor circulars. ”85 To Ainsworth, “encouragement” of African labor was simply a means for African development through the inculcation of industrious work habits. Regarding the Northey labor circular, which hinted at coercion of African labor by the state for private European interests, Ainsworth would contend that the intent of the labor circular was to encourage Africans to work through lawful means.

In one method, a group of people, usually between four and five men, would get together and weed each other’s shambas on consecutive days until the work was finished. The other method was similar to the arrangements employed by the Mbere. 32 So although there were traditional collective 28 Communal Labor in Colonial Kenya labor practices, the workings of colonial communal labor varied in essence and in form. Until 1920 the main legal means of coercing African labor for government projects, excluding emergencies, was through the communal labor section of the NAO.

In 1915 land leases were extended to 999 years. All African land became Crown land and was slated to become reserves. Between 1906 and 1912, the state demarcated reserve areas for Africans that also hemmed them in as a potential source of labor. In 1906 and 1908, two pledges from the Colonial Office further ensured the exclusivity of this central highland area for European settlers. 14 The state created this appanage for a European population that was less than 1 percent of the total population at the time.

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