By Carolyn Martin Shaw
Booklet through Shaw, Carolyn Martin
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Extra resources for Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya
The noble Maasai, whose faces— much appreciated by the colonialist—presented a classic profile, were protected and left in nature, though this protection required that they be removed from their homes. The darker, flat-featured Kikuyu, whose land was alienated by white settlers, lived among the Europeans, learned their ways, and were reviled for it. The colonial Maasai represented themselves as pragmatic and conservative, while the Kikuyu actively organized against colonialism. " Unlike other British colonies in Africa, Kenya had a wide-ranging white population.
They readily accepted such an invitation because the rutere (frontier) was regarded as the land of opportunity where an industrious person expected, sooner or later, to acquire wealth of his own to enable him to buy his own land. The frontiersman consequently built large ihingo (clusters of homesteads) capable of accommodating hundreds of people, some of whom were warriors under his patronage. (1974: 78, emphasis added) Outside of frontier areas, working parties of young men assisted in clearing land, and could also become tenants-at-will.
He might thus be a very influential person, and also a very wealthy one. (1965: 31) Surely big men or leaders did arise from this process. Before the colonial regime, the Kikuyu did not have chieftainships or any hereditary political positions or titles. The early reports on the Kikuyu abound with accounts of big men and leaders, many of whom were mistaken for chiefs and some of whom later became chiefs within the colonial system. On this point, Middleton and Kershaw make the following observation: Many of the writers on the Kikuyu mention chiefs, and the same names of chiefs occur in many different sources: at the beginning of the century there seem to have been some half dozen leaders who apparently held sway over very considerable areas.
Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya by Carolyn Martin Shaw