Date of Graduation
This study analyzes the operations of British trusteeship with regard to Luyia land rights in Western Kenya between 1930 and 1952, using the Kakamega gold rush as a case study. It examines the determinant factors and interests, both imperial and local, that influenced and shaped the promulgation and adoption of the Native Land Trust Ordinance, 1930; and details how the gold discovery in North Kavirondo reserve in 1931 led to drastic land policy reversal entailed in the Native Land Trust (Amendment) Ordinance, 1932. The study argues that the imperial government, the colonial state, and all institutions charged with executing the imperial trust including the Kenya Land Commission, flagrantly violated Luyia land rights on account of economic imperatives. This violation of Luyia land rights ignited significant protest, hostility and immense distrust for colonial agrarian initiatives down to the 1950s. Although economic imperatives were central to the violation of the imperial trust, it is shown that the gold mining industry provided minimal benefits to the vast majority of Luyia households. While the gold mining industry provided temporary relief to ex-Kenya settler farmers, the colonial state, and few successful mining concerns, the Luyia endured immense political, economic, and social challenges. Luyia households lost land to miners for meager cash payments. However, colonial legal strictures stifled African entrepreneurship in the gold mining industry. Deep seated land grievances, dangers associated with mine labor, the resiliency of the parallel Luyia peasant economy, and labor migrancy, almost neutralized the contribution of mine wages to Luyia incomes. Moreover, African workers endured deplorable terms and conditions of work, poor housing and numbing mining accidents in the face of sparse and dwindling colonial healthcare provisions. Gold mining posed monumental health challenges by transforming the goldfield into an epidemic zone. Urbanization brought short-lived benefits to a tiny minority of Luyia households. The industry provided short-lived market for low priced Luyia produce while posing important socio-cultural tensions within the Luyia community and between the Luyia and the immigrant mining populations. Thus, although Kakamega had proved a failed Eldorado by 1952, its lasting legacy lay in immense distrust for government agrarian policies by Luyia peasants that outlived colonialism.
Shilaro, Priscilla Muronji, "A failed Eldorado: British trusteeship, Luyia land rights and the Kakamega gold rush, 1930-1952." (2000). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9756.