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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Be Like Firm Soldiers to Develop the Country: Political Imagination and the Geography of Gikuyuland
Author:Peterson, Derek R.ISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic terms:Kenya
Great Britain
colonial policy
customary law
land law
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4129073
Abstract:Toward the end of 1932, Judge Morris Carter's Land Commission began taking testimony to determine how far Africans in the British colony of Kenya were owed compensation for land taken from them by white settlers. In Nyeri district, as many as 129 Gikuyu subclans representing 105,550 people made claims before the commission. It is therefore surprising that one of Nyeri's major parties, the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA), did not pay the commissioners heed. This essay inquires into the history of Gikuyu political thought by exploring why the Kikuyu Central Association's Nyeri branch had so little to say to Judge Carter. Its thesis is that colonial-era political entrepreneurs created a Gikuyu people by reformulating property as territory. The precolonial pioneers of central Kenya and their descendants saw land as a patrimony, an endowment that enabled family members to flourish. Colonial-era politicians asked these independent homesteaders to think about their property as territory, in this way drawing clansmen together as soldiers dedicated to serving their country. Where organizers asked Gikuyu to practise a single-minded discipline, Judge Carter brought clannish local politics to the fore. Carter asked Nyeri people to recount the local histories that divided them. This terrified the unifiers of the KCA. Nyeri's organizers did not pronounce on Gikuyu land because they could not. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]