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The new pastoralism: poverty and dependency in northern Kenya

  • Richard Hogg

Recent studies of African pastoralism have come more and more to concentrate on its political economy and to note the increasing social and economic differentiation occurring within pastoral societies. As Swift and Maliki write of West Africa: ‘Since the 1973 drought, there has been an increasing process of proletarianization in the countryside which has particularly affected herders, who are in many places being transformed from independent rural producers into cowboys herding other people's animals on land they no longer control’ (1984: 2). In Kenya this process has become increasingly apparent since independence, as pastoralism has become dominated by a town-based elite (see Dahl, 1979a; Little, 1983, 1985a and b; Ensminger, 1984). In this article I trace the origins of a new kind of pastoralism in northern Kenya, and argue that poverty and dependence is becoming a permanent way of life to many pastoralists.

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