The politics of food

Continuing from where we left yesterday, it is interesting to note that the settlers sought protection from the colonial government against the African peasants. In Siaya, we read

[ ]The new market position these farmers achieved in the 20s and early 1930s was feared by the European settlers in Kenya, who sought the protection provided by stiff competition and marketing regulations to maintain their domination of these markets.

Free market anyone?

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On the politics of food

Or maize.

Today we take a break from that strand of critique of capitalism and politicians to talk about something that is close to your stomachs or mine in this particular case.

I am presently reading Siaya: the historical anthropology of an African Landscape by Cohen and Atieno Odhiambo and in a chapter on hunger, they make some very interesting comments, to wit

The consumption of white maize meal has been associated in Siaya with the process referred to as ‘westernization’. Maize first entered the local economy through the intervention of the colonial government, an intervention that involved pressure.

But you all, by now, know that’s not all why I am writing this post.

They say

For the people of Siaya, maize is both a part of what is viewed as progress and a part of what they term disaster.

Why disaster?

[ ]The adoption of maize as a cash crop also involved a new cultivation practice: planting in rows, with a second weeding to remove the undergrowth. These practices caused soil erosion which by 1930s resulted in continuous famine that has plagued Uyoma and lower Asembo people for decades.

Had the introduction of maize been beneficial to the people of Siaya, there would be no concern. But our authors note

Within the households it has long been recognised that whatever the claims for maize, the actual yields per hectare relative to sorghum and millet on a cultivated plot are not in fact superior, particularly when nutritional value is taken into account.

They continue to note

Despite this evidence, for eight decades now, the official voice has not relented in its sponsorship of maize as the preferred food crop in Siaya.

One should note here that by introducing a crop as a cash crop, the goal was not food sufficiency for the locals but for export. In the end we have manufactured famine and food shortages since local foods, that are nutritious, are relegated to the back burner without funds for improving their varieties.

They write

For the authorities, maize has virtues as a national grain, as a potential export crop, and as an agent of of the commodification of agriculture and the expansion of a regulated cash economy into the countryside. But for recent and present Siaya, maize means hunger.

It is unfortunate this circumstance has not changed many years later.

Happy Saturday friends.

How Europe/America underdeveloped Africa

Is a book by the late Walter Rodney. It’s one of those books that everyone should read. It’s not written, for lack of a better term, to seek sympathy but as things stood then( maybe even now). And it is in this respect that I find it quite powerful.

The liberation of the European or American workers is tied to the liberation of the black body. And the same argument has been made about feminism. The American and European worker however has been bamboozled by the capitalist who has made some luxury goods available to them at a small price or accessible loans and has therefore co-opted them in maintaining a border regime that is antithetical to their interests and liberation from a system of exploitation.

In fact, the case of the American worker is worse. They celebrate Labour Day in September! A plot by the capitalists to fight an international workers movement.

But I digress.

You must be asking how the current border regime is antithetical to the interests of the American or European worker. Your capitalists have somehow convinced you brown people are taking your jobs, creating insecurity and so the government is justified in militarizing your societies. What this does is to force other workers elsewhere, whom you should be in solidarity with, to work in less than inhumane environments. It means Amazon can be valued at a trillion dollars but have workers who can’t take health breaks. If workers can move freely, no one will take a shitty job. Capitalists everywhere will be forced to pay a decent wage or shut down. Everyone benefits.

You must be wondering what this has to do with the title of the post. Well, Rodney wrote, and I quote at length

European workers have paid a great price for the few material benefits which accrued to them as crumbs from the colonial table. The class in power controls the dissemination of information. The capitalists misinformed and miseducated workers in the metropoles to the point where they became allies in colonial exploitation. In accepting to be led like sheep, European workers were perpetuating their own enslavement to the capitalists. They ceased to seek political power and contented themselves with bargaining for small wage increases, which were usually counterbalanced by increased cost of living. They ceased to be creative and allowed bourgeois cultural decadence to overtake them all. They failed to exercise any independent judgement on the great issues of war and peace, and therefore ended up by slaughtering not only colonial peoples but also themselves.

And this my friends, is the reason why those who have been more articulate than yours truly have argued that the liberation of the world depends on the liberation of the black body, but especially of women and children wherever they are to be found.

ignorance

In the dear white people post I wrote a while back, there is this ignorant fellow who has written

You seem to have forgotten the endless flow of medical aid, vaccines, humanitarian volunteers, and tax deducted donations given to many countries.

When you look at natural population levels before and after European colonization, you’ll find increases of 400% in some cases. Almost as if our agricultural and technological advancements make it easier for people to live.

Yes, some European advancement was made easier by enslaving others. But, we also lead the charge in fighting slavery and are the most effective abolitionists. In contrast, Africa is still a hotbed of slavery, human trafficking, disease and ethnic cleansing.

We can withdraw our aid, our companies, our colonists, our technology and trade. If you want.

On diseases, I suspect Gentleman’s foundry hasn’t read any historical works that show many of the diseases for which Africans have needed vaccinations originated from Europe?

What quality of life are these large populations enjoying? I would rather a population of 200 well fed idiots than 80000 emaciated sick idiots, but that’s me.

Europeans did not lead the fight against slavery. That’s revising history. It’s only after the first successful black revolt against slavery in Haiti did some Europeans find the courage to join the fight. So please, shut the fuck up. You talk of ethnic cleansing as if that’s not what world wars were? Your ignorance and bias is showing but carry on. Human trafficking of Africans to Europe and Arabia. Maybe you should get a mirror.

By all means withdraw your aid, and stop the theft, we will do just fine.

Boundary changes and the invention of *tribes*

This is part of a summary of specific chapters of the book by Bethwell A. Ogot: History as destiny and history as knowledge.

For most of the travellers who end up here and are not familiar with the problems of ethnicity in Kenya, you can skip this post since what I talk about may sound all Greek.

In this chapter, the author discusses three boundaries

  1. inter-territorial boundaries which were arbitrarily determined in foreign capitals by foreign diplomats
  2. colonial boundaries or better still segregation boundaries: white highlands, native reserves, outlying districts and closed districts
  3. administrative boundaries

These different boundaries froze, in time and space, movements by individuals and groups from one cultural zone to another. Tribes, whatever it means, is a consequence of these administrative boundaries. Evidence for this can be found, for example, in the researches that show that 40% of Baluyia clans were originally Kalenjin. There are also to be found several Luyia clans of Maasai origin.

The author notes that the claim by the colonialists of perpetual inter-clan and inter-ethnic rivalry and fighting is undermined by consideration of the political, economic and cultural situations in different regions of Kenya during the second half of the C19. He says researches show for example Wayaiki Wa Hinga, a Maasai emerged as a eminent Kikuyu leader. The relationships can be seen too in language where the Kikuyu borrowed from the Maasai such words as Ngai, initiation rituals and military tactics. Similar reciprocal relationships existed between the Kikuyu- Akamba, the coastal nations and even in the north between the Samburu and the Rendile.

The effect of these arbitrary boundaries can be seen in how they separated several ethnic groups with one landing across an imaginary border. Examples include Abakusu/ Abagisu, Saboat/ Sabey and the Luo who would be living together with their cousins the Padhola, Acholi, Lango, Alur and Atwot instead of being isolated in Kenya.

In 1895, the East Africa Protectorate created four provinces; Coast (Syyidieh), Ukamba, Tanaland and JUbaland administered respectively from Mombasa, Machakos, Lamu and Kismayu.

What is tribe? No one knows. The colonial administration referred to the Luo as a collection of twenty tribes. The classification into tribe attempted unsuccessfully to combine linguistic, cultural, ethnic and geographical elements to create homogeneous administrative and political units. Further it can be said the definition of ethnic groups as tribes was both racist and ahistorical to the extent that it regarded the various nationality groups as being static, exclusive and homogeneous. In this sense, therefore, the concept tribe was an intellectual abstraction, a mental invention to portray the picture of a people without rulers, without government, without culture, without history to justify colonialism.

These boundaries, he writes, froze historical processes whereby dynamic interactions among the constituent elements had constantly produced either new synthesis or cultural differentiations.

It is however interesting to note, the Africans themselves, dissatisfied with the colonial tribes decided to invent their own for political purposes. The Kalenjin transformed and combined the Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen, Pokot, Marakwet, Elgeyo into a bigger Kalenjin tribe, the different Luyia ethnic groups to one Luyia tribe, GEMA and attempts by Maasai and Samburu forming a Maa tribe.

He concludes by noting that the decision of the post colonial government to retain the colonial district boundaries is making it difficult if not impossible, for Kenyans to live in a multicultural and multi-ethnic societies that would encourage diversity and interaction, promote the coexistence of communities with multiple identities, protect minorities and emphasize intercultural dialogue and tolerance.

Colonialism was good. WTF

Kevin, tells us

-I am against simplistic moral equivalence (that is, “denying that a moral hierarchy can be assessed of two sides in a conflict”). Colonialism had its positive side: roads, agriculture, sanitation, hospitals, orphanages, democracy, schools, and, the Bible. Were these not the will of God?

-Regarding Iraq, please see, “OBAMA’S RETREAT FROM WAR MADE MATTERS WORSE,” at [link ignored]

Those preliminary concerns being addressed, I believe God loves everyone as much as He loves Jesus. God is love. He sent Jesus to die for all, because He has predestined all for life.

As to the question of war, the greater reality must eclipse the lesser. Please also see,

“A Christian Response To North Korea,” at [link ignored]

And for lack of a better word, FUCK you Kevin. You are as immoral as the god you worship.