Early Land Adjudication and its Effects in Kenya

Shortly After the World Wars

The Marshall plan was the recovery plan for the European governments. The plan was to rehabilitate the economies of 17 European countries, which were severely affected by the world war.

The After world war II European governments under the Marshall plan wanted to rehabilitate their economies. Britains political predominance was greatly threatened by the USA. Britain was embarking on a strategic reconstruction plan. Therefore she had to use the vast resources in her African colonies and control the raw materials and the export market. The audacity smh!!!

The continued alienation of the African land for European settlement and confinement into African reserves resulted in land shortage and insufficiency food supply. This situation soon precipitated discontent among the African communities. My professor says our people where populating, and the land was not growing. I bet you get the humour!. The colonial government realized that the European settlers would not continue to enjoy political peace unless some stable property arrangements were provided for the Africans land.

Tenure Individualization

Tenure individualisation was believed to promote economic advancement as opposed to our customary tenure systems. This can be explained by the “Tragedy of Commons” theory. They believed that customary tenure led to tenure insecurity and could only promote subsistence farming. Tenure individualisation was to stimulate more efficient use of land because it would increase tenure security and remove disincentives to invest in the long-term management and productivity of the land. Secondly, it would create vibrant land markets which encouraged potential buyers to acquire more land and consolidate it. Thirdly land would be used as collateral in lending institutions.

To display the Tragedy of the commons Theory
Credits : https://www.sustainable-environment.org.uk/Earth/Commons.php

This ushered in the first agricultural reform in Kenya under the Swynerton plan (https://www.scribd.com/doc/315450594/Swynnerton-Plan-1954) .For the first time, Africans could grow cash crops. This was the inception of Land adjudication, consolidation and registrations of individual rights.

Kericho Tea Farms

The settlers decided to decolonize the white highlands and introduce the  African elites to their economy. This was a negotiation tactic by the Britons as they believed the Africans were going to protect the agricultural economy and ensure the continuation of the colonial laws. Introduction of the ruling African elites into the settler economy ensured that the machinery of the state would continue to flow towards the settler agricultural economy. Who played who here?

Honestly, I still think these are still the political ruling class of today.

1952 State of Emergency

Some freedom fighters lost land during the process because they were either in the forests fighting or in prison. A major historical injustice. I wonder if a wife was permitted to represent a husband?

My humble opinion on the reform is that it saved us political tension that would have occurred during independence and its transition. Of course, I was born yet.

What happened  next

Africans had its own land governance system. Though a communist one it ensured land rights to everyone. The customary land tenure system is dominant across African communities. In Kenya, some families still hold land in customary as the grandparents died intestate after the adjudication. Succession processes are lengthy and costly. Pastoral communities practice Communal landholding.Community land act was enacted to protect their rights.Pastoralists Land Tenure System

In some regions, land adjudication process was incomplete. Original landowners were unfairly dispossessed of their land in some districts. Consequently, these subjects them constant land and generational succession conflicts. The stay of suit they bars them fromchallenging such historical atrocities. It’s ironical that vast lands still have absentee landlords with squatters on them.

Land consolidation and adjudication were major reforms in Kenya’s land administration. The capitalist economy entices everyone to want a piece encouraging the sale of small affordable pieces. Land subdivision is a crisis in today’s land markets and land use. Ploti maguta maguta.Some of the portions are too small for any economic activities. Urbanisation has triggered such activities with devolution fueling further. Informal land markets are vibrant in the peri-urban presently.

Fencing of subdivided plots

Maybe these are signs for the need for new land reform. While we are at it we hope it’s Gender and youth responsive

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top