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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Gender and Land Rights in Murang'a District, Kenya
Author:Mackenzie, A. Fiona D.
Periodical:The Journal of Peasant Studies
Geographic term:Kenya
customary law
land law
History and Exploration
Women's Issues
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Politics and Government
Cultural Roles
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03066159008438437
Abstract:Conceptualizing rights to land in a framework of legal pluralism, this article explores the historical nature of struggles over land by women and men among the Kikuyu in Murang'a District, Central Province, Kenya. The author sketches the situation with respect to land rights in Murang'a in the late 19th century, changes under colonialism (1900-1952), and tenure reform under late colonialism and independence. She argues that the manipulation of customary law is instrumental in increasing gender and more generally social differentiation. Continuing to frame rights to land in relation to the 'mbari' (subclan, the basic kinship and territorial unit of the Kikuyu) and its associated territory, the 'ng'undu', in a situation where 'de jure' freehold rights also pertain, allows individual men to gain access to land from which they would otherwise have been excluded. This strategy becomes part and parcel of the struggle to accumulate land in a context of increasing land scarcity. Manipulating rights to land under both customary law and State law is largely at the expense of women. Yet, women have been able to effect some control over land, either under customary law, or under State law. In conclusion, nine case studies of women are presented to illustrate one of the effects of the operation of statutory land law in Murang'a, namely, that statutory land law has not completely displaced pre-existing rights to land. Rather, two spheres of land rights coexist, and battles over land are fought within and across both. Bibliogr., notes, ref.