By Anne King
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Additional resources for An Economic History of Kenya and Uganda 1800–1970
The restriction of the indigenous peoples to 'Reserves' was not made law until 1926. Until then, African rights under Kenya's colonial law were defined by occupation, cultivation and grazing, so that only when land was left unused did it become Crown Land. The demarcation of 'Native Reserves' was strongly recommended in 1909 but little was done except in the Maasai areas. The land, to use the legal jargon of the time, was 'reserved for the use of the native tribes in the Crown' - the people of Kenya were tenants of the English Crown.
The London officials hoped to prevent land speculation such as had been experienced in other areas of white settlement, but failed to do so. In the first decade of this century there was a great deal of argument, between London on one side and the officials on the spot on the other. By 1915 it was the settlers who won all the points; large concessions of high-quality land on 999-year leases with little obligation to the colonial authorities to develop the land had been made. By 1915, 8242 square miles of land had been alienated on behalf of about one thousand white settlers, but it was very unevenly divided; 20 per cent was held by five individuals or groups, Delamere, the two Coles, Grogan and the East African Syndicate.
In the sense used here, short supply means that an individual or clan became conscious that land was not available for expansion as it had been previously. The Reserve boundaries stopped all migratory movement which had occurred in pre-colonial Kenya and set up some new ones. For instance, the Kikuyu were halted in their southward movement, and because some of the earliest land alienation occurred on land to which they considered they had a right, they rapidly became fearful of the 'ahoi'. The ahoi are people with traditional rights of occupation of land according to relationships of friendship rather than blood ties.