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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Integrating African traditions in environmental control in western Kenya: contradictions and failure in colonial policy, 1920-1963
Author:Shanguhyia, Martin S.
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Geographic term:Kenya
land degradation
traditional society
colonial administration
social change
Abstract:This article examines the efforts of British colonial officers to reinstate traditional leadership structures in the abaLuhya communities in Vihiga (North Kavironda, Kenya) in order to combat land degradation. Since the mid-thirties, land degradation had become a major problem, undermining agricultural development. In order to preserve rural areas for agriculture, colonial officers turned to members of the abaLuhya community to discuss the potential of the 'maguru': the traditional elders of the community. However, from the onset of colonial rule in 1900 onwards the 'maguru' had deliberately been rendered defunct by the colonial administration through the creation of new institutions and the appointment of new African leaders. By 1935, the 'maguru' were invisible in colonial society. Attempts to reinstate them, in order for them to come to the aid of the colonial officers in enforcing soil conservation initiatives, were unsuccessfull. The author contends that in colonial western Kenya, the ideology implied in Indirect Rule of cultivating African traditional institutions proved an elusive idea for the restoration of ecological order. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]