Skip to main content

Pastoral Production in Colonial Kenya: Lessons from the Past?


This article examines the troubled course of attempts to modernize and control pastoral production in Kenya over the last hundred years. It begins with an overview of changes in pastoralism to provide context and then gives more detailed consideration to the failure of colonial attempts to manage livestock resources. Finally, it discusses recent developments in relation to the past. It argues that study of pastoralism's past offers valuable lessons and provides insights into its present and possible future.


Cet article examine les difficultés rencontrées au cours des tentatives de modernisation et de contrôle de la production pastorale au Kenya au cours des cent dernières années. Il commence par une vue d'ensemble sur les transformations progressives des pratiques pastorales pour fournir un contexte historique, et se penche ensuite sur des considérations plus détaillées concernant les échecs des tentatives coloniales de gestion des ressources en bétail. Pour finir, cet article évalue les développements récents en comparaison avec les pratiques du passé. Il soutient que l'étude de l'histoire du pastoralisme offre des leçons utiles ainsi qu'un aperçu de son évolution présente et de son potentiel futur.

Hide All
Anderson David. 1986. “Stock Theft and Moral Economy in Colonial Kenya.” Africa 56: 399416.
Anderson David. 2002. Eroding the Commons. Oxford: James Currey.
Anderson David. 2010. “Kenya's Cattle Trade and the Economics of Empire.” In Healing the Herds, edited by Brown Karen and Gilfoyle Daniel, 250–68. Athens: Ohio University Press.
Anderson David, and Broche-Due Vigdis. 1999. “Poverty and the Pastoralist: Deconstructing Myths, Reconstructing Realities.” In The Poor Are Not Us, edited by Anderson David and Broche-Due Vigdis, 319. Oxford: James Currey.
Barrett Christopher, et al. 2003. “Livestock Pricing in the Northern Kenyan Range-lands.” Journal of African Economies 12: 127–55.
Baxter Paul. 1993. “The ‘New’ East African Pastoralist: An Overview.” In Conflict and the Decline of Pasloralism in the Horn of Africa, edited by Markakis John, 143–62. Basingstoke, U. K.: Macmillan.
Behnke Roy, et al. 1993. Range Ecology at Disequilibrium. London: Overseas Development Institute.
Bollig Michael. 2006. Risk Management in a Hazardous Environment. New York: Springer.
Cowen Michael. 1974. “Patterns of Cattle Ownership and Dairy Production: 1900–1965.” Nairobi: Institute of Development Studies.
Dahl Gudrun, and Hjort Anders. 1976. Having Herds. Stockholm: University of Stockholm, Department of Social Anthropology.
Dalleo Peter. 1975. “Trade and Pastoralism: Economic Factors in the History of the Somali of Northeastern Kenya, 1890–1948.” Ph.D. diss., Syracuse University.
Ellis James, and Swift David. 1988. “Stability of African Pastoral Ecosystems: Alternative Paradigms and Implications for Development.” Journal of Range Management 41: 450–59.
Ensminger Jean. 1992. Making a Market. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Evangelou Phylo. 1984. Livestock Development in Kenya's Maasailand. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Faulkner D. 1948. The Development of the Livestock Industry in the Native Areas of Kenya. Nairobi: Dept. of Veterinary Services.
Fratkin Elliot. 1991. Surviving Drought and Development. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Fratkin Elliot, and Roth Eric, eds. 2005. As Pastoralists Settle. New York: Kluwer.
Galaty John. 1994. “Rangeland Tenure and Pastoralism in Africa.” In African Pastoralist Systems, edited by Fratkin Elliot et al., 185204. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.
Galaty John. 1999. “Grounding Pastoralists: Law, Politics and Dispossession in East Africa.” Nomadic Peoples 3: 5673.
Hardin Garett. 1968. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science 162: 1243–8.
Heady H. 1960. Range Management in East Africa. Nairobi: Kenya Ministry of Agriculture.
Herskovits Melvin. 1926. “The Cattle Complex in East Africa. American Anthropologist 28: 230–72, 361–88, 494–528, 633–44.
Hodge Joseph. 2007. Triumph of the Expert. Athens: Ohio University Press.
Hodgson Dorothy. 2001. Once Intrepid Warriors. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Hodgson Dorothy. 2011. Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Hogg Richard. 1986. “The New Pastoralism: Poverty and Dependency in Northern Kenya.” Africa, 56: 317–33
Homewood Katherine. 2008. Ecology of African Pastoralist Societies. Oxford: James Currey.
Homewood Katherine, et al. 2004. “In-Migrants and Exclusion in East African Rangelands: Access, Tenure and Conflict.” Africa 74: 567610.
Homewood Katherine, eds. 2009. Staying Maasai? New York: Springer.
Huxley Elspeth. 1960. A New Earth. London: Chatto & Windus.
Kanogo Tabitha. 1987. Squatters and the Roots ofMau Mau. London: James Currey.
Kenya Meat and Live Stock Inquiry Committee. 1937. Report. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Kenya Land Comission (KLC). 1934. Report. Cmd 4556. London: HM Stationary Office.
Kenya Ministry of Agriculture. 1962. African Land Development in Kenya, 1946–1962. Nairobi: English Press.
Kerven Carol. 1992. Customary Commerce: A Historical Reassessment of Pastoral Livestock Marketing in Africa. London: Overseas Development Institute.
Kitching Gavin. 1980. Class and Economic Change in Kenya. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Lamphear John. 1988. “The People of the Grey Bull: The Origin and Expansion of the Turkana.” Journal of African History 29: 2739.
Lamphear John. 1992. The Scattering Time: Turkana Responses to Colonial Rule. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Leach Melissa, and Mearns Robin. 1996. “Challenging Received Wisdom in Africa.” In The Lie of the Land, edited by Leach Melissa and Mearns Robin, 133. Oxford: James Currey.
Little Peter. 1992. The Elusive Granary: Herder, Farmer and State in Northern Kenya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Little Peter. 2003. “Rethinking Interdisciplinary Paradigms and the Political Ecology of Pastoralism in East Africa.” In African Savannas, edited by Bassett Thomas and Crummey Donald, 161–77. Oxford: James Currey.
Little Peter, et al. 2001. “Avoiding Disaster: Diversification and Risk Management among East African Herders.” Development and Change 32: 401–33.
Lonsdale John. 1986. “The Depression and the Second World War in the Transformation of Kenya.” In Africa and the Second World War, edited by Rath-bone Richard and Killingray David, 97142. London: Macmillan.
Lonsdale John. 1989. “The Conquest State, 1895–1904.” In A Modem History of Kenya, edited by Ochieng William, 634. London: Evans Brothers.
McCabe Terrence. 2004. Cattle Bring Us to Our Enemies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
McPeak John. 2003. “Analyzing and Addressing Local Degradation in the Commons.” Land Economics 79: 515–36.
John McPeak, and Little Peter, eds. 2006. Pastoral Livestock Marketing in Eastern Africa. Rugby: Intermediate Technology Publications.
Munro Forbes. 1975. Colonial Rule and the Kamba. Oxford: Clarendon.
Munro William. 2003. “Ecological Crisis and Resource Management Policy in Zimbabwe's Communal Lands.” In African Savannas, edited by Bassett Thomas and Crummey Donald, 178204. Oxford: James Currey.
Nevile C. 1957.Report of Enquiry into the Kenya Meat Industry, 1956. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Parsons Timothy. 2011. “Local Responses to the Ethnic Geography of Colonialism in the Gusii Highlands of British-Ruled Kenya.” Ethnohistory 58: 491523.
Pratt D., and Gywnne M.. 1977. Rangeland Management and Ecology in East Africa. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Raikes Philip. 1981. Livestock Development and Policy in East Africa. Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies.
Rutten Marcel. 1992. Selling Wealth to Buy Poverty. Saarbrucken: Breitenbach.
Schlee Gunter. 1989. Identities on the Move: Clanship and Pastoralism in Northern Kenya. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Smith Kevin, et al. 2001. “Not Necessarily in the Same Boat: Heterogeneous Risk Assessment among East African Pastoralists.” Journal of Development Studies 37: 130.
Sobania Neal. 1979. Background History of the Mt. Kulal Region of Kenya. IPAL Technical Report A2. Nairobi: UNESCO & UNEP.
Sobania Neal. 1988. “Pastoralists, Migration and Colonial Policy: A Case Study from Northern Kenya.” In The Ecology of Survival, edited by Johnson Douglas and Anderson David, 219–39. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Sobania Neal. 1991. “Feasts, Famines and Friends: Nineteenth Century Exchange and Ethnicity in the Eastern Lake Turkana Region.” In Herders, Warriors and Traders, edited by Galaty John and Bonte Pierre, 118–42. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Sorrenson Keith. 1968. Origins of European Settlement in Kenya. Nairobi: Oxford University Press.
Spear Thomas. 1993. “Introduction.” In BeingMaasai, edited by Spear Thomas and Waller Richard, 124. London: James Currey
Spear Thomas. 1997. Mountain Farmers. Oxford: James Currey.
Spencer Ian. 1983. “Pastoralism and Colonial Policy in Kenya, 1895–1929.” In Imperialism, Colonialism and Hunger, edited by Rotberg Robert, 113–40. New York: Lexington Books.
Spencer Paul. 1973. Nomads in Alliance. London: Oxford University Press.
Spencer Paul. 1997. The Pastoral Continuum. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Spinage C. 2003. Cattle Plague: A History. New York: Kluwer.
Tiki W., and Oba G.. 2009. “Ciinna—the Borana Oromo Narration of the 1890s Great Rinderpest Epizootic in North Eastern Africa.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 3: 479508.
Tilley Helen. 2003. “African Environments and Environmental Sciences: The African Research Survey, Ecological Paradigms and British Colonial Development, 1920–1940.” In Social History and African Environments, edited by Beinart William and McGregor Joann, 109–30. Oxford: James Currey.
Tilley Helen. 2011. Africa as a Living Laboratory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Vetter S. 2005. “Rangelands at Equilibrium and Non-equilibrium: Recent Developments in the Debate.” Journal of Arid Environments 62: 321–41.
Waller Richard. 1984. “Interaction and Identity on the Periphery: The Trans-Mara Maasai.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 17: 243–84.
Waller Richard. 1985a. “Ecology, Migration and Expansion in East Africa.” African Affairs 84: 347–70.
Waller Richard. 1985b. “Economic and Social Relations in the Central Rift Valley: The Maa- Speakers and Their Neighbours in the Nineteenth Century.” In Kenya in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Ogot B. A., 83151. Nairobi: Bookwise.
Waller Richard. 1988. “Emutai: Crisis and Response in Maasailand, 1883–1902.” In The Ecology of Survival, edited by Johnson Douglas and Anderson David, 73112. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Waller Richard. 1999. “Pastoral Poverty in Historical Perspective.” In The Poor Are Not Us, edited by Anderson David and Broche-Due Vigdis, 2049. Oxford: James Currey.
Waller Richard. 2004. “‘Clean’ and ‘Dirty’: Cattle Disease and Control Policy in Colonial Kenya, 1900–1940.” Journal of African History 45: 4580.
Waller Richard, and Homewood Katherine. 1997. “Elders and Experts: Contesting Veterinary Knowledge in a Pastoral Community.” In Western Medicine as Contested Knowledge, edited by Cunningham Andrew and Andrews Bridie, 6993. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press.
Waller Richard, and Sobania Neal. 1994. “Pastoralism in Historical Perspective.” In African Pastoralist Systems, edited by Fratkin Elliot et al., 4568. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Reinner.
Youe Christopher. 1988. “Settler Capital and the Assault on the Squatter Peasantry in Kenya's Uasin Gishu District, 1942–63.” African Affairs? 87: 393418.
Zaal Fred, and Dietz Ton, 1999. “Of Markets, Meat, Maize and Milk: Pastoral Commoditization in Kenya.” In The Poor Are Not Us, edited by Anderson David and Broche-Due Vigdis, 163–98. Oxford: James Currey.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 15 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 117 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 11th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.