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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Men on the Spot', and Labor Policy in British East Africa: The Mombasa Water Supply, 1911-1917
Author:Willis, JustinISNI
Year:1995
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Volume:28
Issue:1
Pages:25-48
Language:English
Geographic terms:Kenya
Great Britain
Subjects:colonialism
labour recruitment
water supply
Labor and Employment
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/221304
Abstract:Through examination of one particular episode - the 'recruitment' of workers for a public works scheme, the Mombasa water supply works of 1911-1917 in Kenya - this paper suggests a reappraisal of the making of local policy in British East Africa, offering an understanding of how decisions were made through the efforts of both European officials and African accumulators to 'cope with the contradictions' of the early colonial State. The study suggests that although there was a metropolitan hand in the making of local policy, this hand often exercised its power quite unknowingly, unaware of the local detail of policy that metropolitan demands entailed. Actual policy was made by 'men on the spot', not liberally inclined officials, but an uneasy, often friction-laden alliance of European officials and African accumulators, each anxious to maintain the authority that this accommodation offered them. As the study shows, their accommodation could, according to circumstance, lead either to brutal excess or to considerable amelioration of the impact of colonial laws. Notes, ref.
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