Get premium membership and access questions with answers, video lessons as well as revision papers.

Land in Pre Colonial Kenya


Date Posted: 3/1/2013 9:40:24 AM

Posted By: Brendah Aroko  Membership Level: Gold  Total Points: 3317

Land tenure system in Kenya started during the independence period. Land is capable of having various rights, interests and obligations coexisting . Land falls within a species of property that cannot be neglected. It is a valuable asset that no one would wish to part with and in Kenya, the government retains the ultimate title to land. This means that the government can at any time repossess land which it needs for example the land claimed by the government for the construction of the Thika superhighway.

This doctrine of repossessions has its origin in the English feudal system. Protectorates cannot alienate property and this is because a protectorate does not establish territory and so the result is lack of a king or a sovereign established as a protectorate and the Sultans were the administrators within the coastal strip. Tanganyika was also a territory of Germany.

Unoccupied land in a protectorate was considered wasteland and the crown would declare ownership over it. In the colonial period, the use and control of land was on the basis of communal ownership and on the people's claim as community members. Every member of the community would freely use land for his benefit by virtue of them being born into that community. Strangers were not allowed to claim ownership over land that belonged to another community for example a Maasai would not go to luo land and claim ownership on land.

Non homogeneous communities had their own system of land ownership whereby one had to put his effort over land in order to secure title over it. They had to develop land by either constructing buildings or by cultivating it so that that piece of land would by virtue of their efforts become their property.

Due to the ownership system that wasn't uniform, there was need for dispute

resolution mechanisms to be put in place. The chiefs acted as trustees of land and so their task was to resolve disputes. Each member of the community also had a duty to protect the interests and property belonging to the community such that they would drive away strangers who came to their land. The tenure system was on a community basis hence each community had its own area of occupation.

There were areas that were shared by the entire community like in the pastoralist communities they had a communal grazing land. The entire community could also benefit from the entitlements over those common areas like the salt leeks for their animals and water points too. Fishing communities had the right to fish in the water bodies. No member could prevent others from using the water bodies for fishing.

The community figure heads like chiefs and kings acted for the benefit of the community. Some communities occupied land through conquest where they would attack another community and if they overpowered them, they would drive them away and take occupation of their land. The defeated community would concede and find another land to occupy.

Colonies had to be self sustaining, productive, and rich in order to be able to produce enough food for their consumption as well as surplus to export . Members were encouraged to occupy land and they were motivated with promises of security and protection in order to make them productive.

Next: Cord coalition promises to address unemployment
Previous: Is total peace really possible?

More Resources
Quick Links
Kenyaplex On Facebook

Kenyaplex Learning