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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Northey forced labor crisis, 1920-1921: a symptomatic reading
Author:Okia, OpolotISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:forced labour
colonial policy
labour policy
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40282490
Abstract:In 1920 the issue of forced labour in colonial Kenya erupted into a public controversy among various humanitarian groups in London. At issue was a labour circular that was written in 1919 by the governor of the East Africa Protectorate, Sir Edward Northey. This infamous labour circular explicitly stated that 'All government officials in charge of native areas must exercise every possible lawful influence to induce able-bodied male natives to go into the labour field'. Although the wording was seemingly innocuous, the emphasis on pushing Africans into the labour market hinted at State coercion of African labour for private European interests. A later dispatch by Secretary of State Winston Churchill, in 1921, forbade forced labour for private individuals, but the State continued to extract communal forced labour from African peasants under the ark of customary law. Ultimately, the Northey circular controversy represented more than just a labour crisis. It was the embodiment of a struggle over competing ideas about African development in Kenya Colony. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]