Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya by Carolyn Martin Shaw

By Carolyn Martin Shaw

Publication through Shaw, Carolyn Martin

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Culture and Colonialism in Kenya: The Book Beginning in chapter 2, I focus on history to capture the understandings and conventions that emerged from everyday practices, and to underscore the constructed and negotiated quality of social and cultural life for late-nineteenth to early-twentieth-century Kikuyu. My research shows how women participated in the political economy and their roles in generating and decreasing inequality in local groups. Europeans in the colonies and at home debated the topic of African sexual morality and the position of women.

If, however, the "serf was adopted by the landowner or through his own industry provided the bridewealdi for the marriage, he could claim the children for his own patrilineal family. The followers who were seeking opportunities for expansion and diversification of land were called ahoi, tenants. They were generally warriors recruited through work parties, some of whom went to the frontier of Kikuyu territory to claim prized new land. Many of these men had the resources necessary to negotiate their own marriages and claim the children for their families.

1933: 50) Though their husbands did not have absolute power, wives and mothers in Father Cagnolo's representations are heavily taxed by burdensome domestic labor and often emotionally alienated from their husbands. Women in the Italian missionary's ethnography are in need of rescue from their hardships, but also from the freedoms they enjoy, which threaten Christian decency. Father Cagnolo finds the Kikuyu so corrupt as to openly institutionalize immoral practices. An instance of this is that "polygamy of the rich old men is nothing but a polyandry generally accepted by the persons concerned" (1933: 257).

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