International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Colonial Capitalism and the Making of Wage Labour in Kimilili, Kenya: 1900-1963
Ndalilah Joseph W

The study investigated the emergence of a wage labour force in response to the economic changes brought about by British annexation and establishment of European farms in Kimilili Division, Kenya. This paper argues that colonial land policies, introduced, nurtured and intensified underdevelopment of Kimilili. The study was based on archival research, oral interviews and an analysis of existing literature on socio-economic history in general and labour history in particular. In 1902, the colonial government in Kenya fixed the boundary between Kenya and Uganda to its present area from Naivasha. This was followed by establishment of European farms in the Kenya highlands. As exclusive owners of the land, European settlers expected, with political backing from the colonial state, to limit Africans’ (in this case the Babukusu) role solely to labour provision. The role of traditional council of elders changed according to the whims and dictates of the colonial state and targeted labour recruitment. The colonial state enacted a series of measures to create and maintain supply of labour including hut and poll taxes in 1902 and 1903; the Masters and Servants and the Resident Native Labour Ordinance (RNLO) in 1918 which defined both the legal status and labour obligations of the squatter. In particular, Kimilili provided the bulk of African labourers on Europeans farms created in adjacent Trans Nzoia district. This paper also examined the creation of African reserves and an analysis of legal and extra legal methods of labour recruitment.

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