Changes in Trade Practices among the Luo of Alego Usonga, Siaya County Kenya; 1850 - 1999
Okello, Okal Elias
MetadataShow full item record
The Luo of Alego Usonga, like any other African traditional society in the world, depended on trade and exchange as one of the ways of earning their livelihood. This study is an analytical product of archival, oral and library research focussing on changes in trade practices among the Luo of Alego Usonga.The study examines the trade practices among the Luo of Alego Usonga between 1850 and 1999. It assesses the nature and impact of British colonial rule on trade practices among the Luo of Alego Usonga and interrogates how Africanization of the economy policy changed their trade practices. The study revolves around three fundamental questions. First, how was trade practised among the Luo of Alego Usonga from 1850 to 1899? Secondly, what was the nature and impact of British colonial rule on trade practices among the Luo of Alego Usonga between 1900 and 1963? And thirdly, how did the Africanization of the economy policy change the trade practices among the Luo of Alego Usonga between 1964 and 1999? The study argues that during the pre-colonial period the Luo of Alego Usonga had a regular intra and inter-community trade network with their neighbours involving exchange of different items of trade in various designated places. The mode of exchange was mainly barter. However, the advent of colonialism and the inauguration of economic structures affected the nature of trade by restructuring and modifying the pre-existing trade patterns and exchange to align with the new mode. New needs especially European merchandise was created as new market systems based on monetarised exchange modes were brought forth. Trading centres therefore became the nodal points of trading activities among the Luo of Alego Usonga. The study also highlighted the role of European and Indian merchants in the post 1900 history of the Alego Usonga which gradually affected the realm of trade and exchange. Although some earlier forms of traditional economy were witnessed at the onset colonialism, a fresh orientation towards the market emerged and this acted as a turning point for the economy of the Luo of Alego Usonga leading to the monetization of trade and exchange. After independence new economic policies such as Africanization of the economy were introduced to enhance economic equilibrium in Kenya. This enabled the local traders from Alego Usonga to take advantage of the existing trading opportunities as they started to operate businesses which were initially controlled by non-Africans. To deeply interrogate the integration of the traditional and capitalist economy of the Luo of Alego Usonga, this study employed Articulation of Modes of Production theory as a major tool of inquiry. The pre-capitalist mode of production of Alego Usonga was articulated and modified to capitalist mode of production forcing it to align with the colonial economy. The two modes of production continued to co-exist even during the independence period. Target population was 2240 people of the Luo residing in Alego Usonga. Key informants especially those who were above seventy years were identified through purposeful non-random and snowballing sampling techniques. Both Primary and Secondary data employed provided epistemological and empirical evidence to support the dicussions. Descriptive and historical design was used. This enabled the researcher to reach out for more key informants. Qualitative approach of synchronizing, analysing and interpreting historical data was adopted. The study concluded that the penetration of colonial rule in Alego Usonga had a great impact in changing the trade practices among the Luo of Alego Usonga. The main contribution of this study is two-fold. First, it provides overdue analysis of the significant changes in trade practices which took place among the Luo of Alego Usonga over a period of time. Second, it has disclosed information about the economic aspects of the Luo of Alego Usonga and their reaction towards colonial economic policies during the colonial period. This study recommends that changes in trade practices among other communities in Kenya need to be conducted to build on the socio-economic history.