Tabitha Kanogo

Tabitha Kanogo is an associate professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley.

Listed in: African Studies · Gender Studies · History · Sociology · Women’s Studies · Women’s History · African History

This book explores the history of African womanhood in colonial Kenya. By focussing on key sociocultural institutions and practices around which the lives of women were organized, and on the protracted debates that surrounded these institutions and practices during the colonial period, it investigates the nature of indigenous, mission, and colonial control of African women.

“This is the most interesting general Kenyan social history that I have had the pleasure to read for many years. It fills a large gap in the colonial history of Kenyan women as they negotiated changes in the most domestic areas of their experience. Within a broad analysis of colonial opportunities for physical, social and educational mobility, Kanogo shows how African and British male authorities tried, with uncertain opinions and from different perspectives, to control female initiatives, and how, to varying degrees, women managed to achieve increasing measures of control over their own lives.”

John Lonsdale, Trinity College, Cambridge

This is a study of the genesis, evolution, adaptation and subordination of the Kikuyu squatter labourers, who comprised the majority of resident labourers on settler plantations and estates in the Rift Valley Province of the White Highlands. These squatters played a crucial role in the initial build-up of the events that led to the outbreak of the Mau Mau war.

“Dr Kanogo has followed the fortunes of these squatters. It is an amazing story. At first, when white settlement was in its infancy, the squatters lived in a ‘heaven.’ They prospered greatly by utilizing the vast and virgin lands which the Europeans could not at first put under production.

“This ‘heaven’ lasted only until around 1923. Then the white settlers began to assert themselves, by demanding more labour hours from the squatters. By using the colonial state, they initiated laws to restrict squatter cultivation and animal husbandry and, by the early 1940s, the vast quantity of the squatter livestock had been got rid of. The squatters became poorer and poorer, disillusioned and angry.

“Dr. Kanogo proceeds to narrate the story of squatter involvement in the Mau Mau movement—in particular female participation—the first time a Kenyan historian has actually done field work on Mau Mau instead of simply mouthing propaganda.”

William R. Ochieng, Professor and chairman of the history department, Kenyatta University