Control & Crisis in Colonial Kenya: The Dialectic of Domination

By Bruce Berman | Go to book overview

Seven
Political Struggle and the Crisis
of the Colonial State
1945-52

The social forces that undermined the material basis of the colonial order in the African reserves in the late 1930s (analysed in Chapter 5), remained unresolved in the succeeding decade. Colonial wartime production demands had accelerated the physical deterioration of the reserves, making it increasingly difficult for subsistence forms of production to reproduce themselves, and bringing to the surface the contradictions in the articulation of settler estate production with the precolonial structures of African societies. The state, however, was unable to supply new institutional or material bases for reforging the terms of African cooptation and collaboration. The 'development' policies formulated to halt the threat to the foundation of the colony's political economy exacerbated the contradictions by thwarting both the further development of capitalist production by the emergent African bourgeoisie and the wider spread of commodity relations among the mass of middle peasants. This accentuated the widening gap between Africans and the increasingly prosperous sectors of the economy controlled by Europeans and Asians, and intensified the competition and growing class struggles in the declining reserves, the 'White' Highlands and the urban areas. Furthermore, the massive expansion of state intervention in African social and economic life that accompanied the 'development' programmes, aptly termed the 'second colonial occupation' by Anthony Low and John Lonsdale, 1 politicized the struggles and focused them squarely on the state. A mass base for African political activity began to emerge. A policy of 'political development' based on district-level local government institutions proved incapable of containing the spread of African political organization on a colony-wide basis.

Within the state apparatus, the constraints on the development of African production and trade were related to the decline of the Provincial Administration and the increasing conflict between it and the technical departments, Secretariat and emerging ministerial organizations. The

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