Impact of economic activities on the ecology of the Isukha and Idakho Areas of Western Kenya C. 1850 to 1945.
Muchanga, Kizito L.
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This study has investigated the impact of economic activities on the ecology of the Isukha and Idakho societies of Western Kenya between 1850-1945. The study focuses on issues of economic exploitation and environmental destruction, belief systems and their eventual breakdown. In the study, however, the economic practices are viewed as the substructure on which other activities or practices in the society depend. Moreover, changes in the socio-political arena of the Isukha and Idakho society had a great impact on the economic system, which simultaneously affected the ecology. The study has demonstrated that the social and political aspects of Abisukha and Abidakho emerged as part of the entire economic organisation structure. Prior to colonialism, the economic history of Isukha and Idakho reveals a socio-economic and political set-up that was in keeping with the ecological system. Economic, religious and political organizations had close interaction. Economic dynamism in relation to innovation and new crops within the ecological milieu is evidenced. During the pre-colonial period, the environment and demographic trends determined the economic activities as people preferred particular ecozones for farming. The sparse population allowed the practice of shifting cultivation and the socio-political and economic operations as intimate friends that ensured good food strategies. Particular attention is paid to the roles of elders in the pre-colonial era and what happened to their roles in due course of societal entrenchment into the capitalist economic system that took place. During the era of 'primitive' accumulation in the early periods of colonial entrenchment and pacification, some pre-colonial practices survived in a distorted form, while those which were inimical to colonial institutionalization were eliminated or relegated to less importance. Thus, the colonial mechanisms brought about a dichotomized society where the Isukha and Idakho were peripheralised, especially during the inter-war period and the World War II. This process of articulation led to the breakdown of some of the belief systems, economic activities and practices such as shifting cultivation and food shortage strategies and mechanisms. Consequently, this process contributed to the outbreak of famines and food shortages, which became rampant in the colonial era. The work is knit into six chapters where the problem is contextualised and the evolution of the socio-political and economic institutions examined. The thesis unravels colonial penetration and its institutionalisation in the precolonial milieu. Famines and food shortages are also investigated. An integrated theoretical framework of environmental-demographic theory and the concept of articulation of modes of production has been employed. Finally the work gives various conclusions and recommendations in the area of study.