Effects of Mau May War on the Agikuyu Women’s Indigenous Knowledge System on Food Crop Production, 1952-1955

Martha Wanjiru Muraya1, Dr. Geofrey King’ori Gathungu2 and Dr. Lazarus Ngari Kinyua3

1Department of Humanities, Chuka University, P.O Box 109-60400, Chuka, Kenya
Email: murayamartha@yahoo.com

2Department of Plant Sciences, Chuka University, P.O Box 109-60400, Chuka, Kenya
E-mail: gkgathungu@yahoo.com

3Department of History, Archaeology and Political Studies, Kenyatta University, P.O Box 43844, Nairobi, Kenya
E-mail: ngari.lazarus@ku.ac.ke

The Mau Mau War was characterized by increased anxiety, anger, and frustration that arose from a continuous feeling of loss of traditional land, land use, labour and freedom to continue with indigenous practices. The Agikuyu people of Kiambu where Mau Mau activities were intensive were mostly affected. Indeed the Agikuyu women strongly supported the Mau Mau war probably out of frustration as they felt oppressed, marginalization and denied access of their traditional land and land use right and resources. This research paper focused on examining the implications of the Mau Mau war on the AWIKS on food crop production. The study employed descriptive research design and historical trend analysis and it was done in three sub-counties of Kiambu West, namely, Limuru, Lari and Kikuyu. Purposive and snowballing technique was used to get the respondents who were the bearers of the most relevant information. The main source of information was the corroboration of oral interviews, in-depth archival records analysis and secondary data. Oral interviews data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and reported using basic simple descriptive statistics. The study used Women and Development (WAD) theory which helped to examine how the activities and the colonial counter- activities of Mau Mau War led to disruption and collapse of indigenous cultural systems especially AWIKS on food crop production hence compromising their very important in agricultural production. The study found out that the Agikuyu women involvement in the Mau Mau war disrupted the indigenous food crop production division of labour through increased forced communal labor and curfews during the Mau Mau war, this limited time for proper utilization of the AWIKS. Moreover, land was alienated and the Agikuyu people were forced into emergency villages where soil degradation, poor soil and overcrowding compromising the effective utilization of AWIKS. The food crops stored and preserved in communal granaries in the colonial emergency villages were destroyed by the many rodents that were breeding in the villages. Furthermore, it was established that the massive loss of lives and withdrawal of energetic Agikuyu men and women from indigenous subsistence agricultural practices, time wastage in war recruitment, in oath taking ceremonies, arresting and repatriation of the Agikuyu women affected the proper utilization of the AWIKS on food crop production. All this implied that the AWIKS on food crop production was destabilized by the political instability that was experienced during the Mau Mau War which may have contributed to a compromised food supply in the household. The study recommended that women should be recognized as important actors in food crop production and in mitigating society’s challenges such as food shortages in their society even during the time of political instability and War. Hence the relevant AWIKS on food crop production could be integrated into the modern food crop production practices with a bit of modification of suit the current circumstances

Cite this article:
Muraya, M.W. Gathungu, G.K. & Kinyua, L.N. (2019). Effects of Mau May War on the Agikuyu Women’s Indigenous Knowledge System on Food Crop Production, 1952-1955. International Journal of Arts and Commerce, 8(6), 21-38.