Alienation of Abashitaho’s Land Rights, 1920-1963
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This study interrogates the effect of European colonialism on traditional land ownership, access and use. The exposure of European capitalism on traditional land ownership, access and use abolished the land rights of Abashitaho between 1920 and 1963. The precolonial land ownership, accessibility and user rights had made the community stable and peaceful. It also investigated European colonial land policies and its pitfalls on the community leading to legacy of land right question after independence of 1963.This study is necessary because a lot of studies by scholars have focused on large general areas and communities to the exclusion of minority but important communities in the locality. While those studies were important, there is need to explore issues in such isolated localities which dominated outcomes that impacted on large communities during colonial period. The study narrowed down the unit of focus to that of Abashitaho land rights to help provide a more detailed account. The overall objective of the study was to demonstrate factors that have undermined land rights among Abashitaho despite Kenya having attained independence. The study employed a descriptive research design and applied the purposive and simple random sampling techniques. The study focused on Abashitaho knowledgeable elders and any other persons within Kakamega County to obtain information. A total of 40 respondents were sampled for oral interviews, focus group discussions and some filled questionnaires. Analysis of library and archival sources was also used to obtain information. The study used a systems approach and dependency and underdevelopment theories to interrogate traditional system of land rights and capitalist system as they clashed to analyze the outcomes of problems of land rights within an African community. These theories helped provide an avenue for understanding reasons why land rights and the land question was still a major problem in independent Kenya in 1963. The study was premised on argument that colonialism introduced changes in land ownership accessibility and use that removed the community‟s base of wealth accumulation. Colonialism also brought in new methods of land ownership with title which ignored traditional rights to access and use land which weakened African modes of production and created class differences in society .The study revealed that due to differences in ownership, accessibility and use of land some people grew richer as others became progressively poor due to policies institutionalized. The study therefore exposed the challenge of land question that endures and undermines wealth accumulation and stability of society at independence.