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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Becoming a Child of the House: Incorporation, Authority and Resistance in Giryama Society
Authors:Willis, Justin
Miers, Suzanne
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Kenya
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:This article investigates the changing ways in which slaves and other marginal people were incorporated by the Giryama (or Giriama) of the coastal hinterland of Kenya in the 19th century. In Giryama society a person bought as a slave became 'a child of the house' and the marginality of slaves was institutionalized through structures of kinship. Giryama accumulators were able to reinterpret the kinds of obligation and claim imposed by kinship. They built up homesteads composed in large degree of outsiders who were under their control. In doing so, they undermined former structures of ritual and political authority, and made possible a rapid growth in the number of people who were called Giryama. The presence of a ready supply of slaves at the coast was fundamental to the ability of the powerful to transform relationships with the incorporated. At the beginning of the colonial period, an accommodation developed between the 'new men' of Giryama society and administrators; but these 'new men' soon found that the abolition of slavery and other changes had drastically reduced their ability to control negotiations over status with dependants. With their ability to accumulate dwindling, the accumulators lost their authority. The article is based on oral historical interviews conducted between 1972 and 1974, and in the early 1990s. Notes, ref., sum.