Dis-Ease in the Colonial State: Medicine, Society, and Social Change among the Abanyole of Western Kenya

By Osaak A. Olumwullah | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
THE COLONIAL STATE, HEALTH,
AND HEALING IN BUNYORE

Health reform… could never be imposed by fiat from without, but in
this sphere there is little that is African to build on…. Our duty to
apply our Western knowledge to the mitigation of African suffering
and the betterment of African health is perhaps a crucial test for
“trusteeship.”1


INTRODUCTION

North Kavirondo District came under British administration as part of the Eastern Province of the Uganda Protectorate between 1890 and 1895. This was a development that involved, among other things, the institution of completely new ground rules for the political regulation of the hitherto self-governing Abaluyia subethnic groups, the introduction of taxes, and a move toward the commodification of peasant everyday lives. While, on the one hand, taxes were envisaged as a means through which the nascent colonial state could force Africans into wage labor,2 quite ironically, the introduction of peasant commodity production, on the other hand, gained momentum as demands for colonial taxation intensified.3 These processes went hand in hand with the development of communication networks along and through which the Abaluyia both were drawn into the world capitalist nexus and acquired new ideas either from their recently arrived rulers or from fellow Africans whom they met on settler farms, in towns, and at the port city of Mombasa, where they went to look for work as stevedores.4 For example, Slater Road, built for oxcarts, reached Mumias, the British administrative boma in the district, in 1896. In 1901 the Uganda Railway reached Kisumu, its terminus on the Kavirondo Gulf, and, 30 years later, it was extended to Butere.5 In a geopolitical and economic reorganization the district was on April 1, 1902, excised from the Uganda

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