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Title: The soldier settlement scheme of 1919 in Kenya
Author: Duder, C. J. D.
ISNI:       0000 0000 6618 0500
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1978
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Soldier settlement, the placing of ex-service men on the land, was a widespread response by the Governments of the british empire to the problems of reconstruction after World War I. The schemes, undertaken for reasons of economic growth, social stability and the 'debt of honour' owed to ex-soldiers, soon proved to be either failures or expensive successes. In Kenya, soldier settlement was initially envisaged as a means of strengthening the local white community in the face of an African population which had lost its aawe of Europeans as a result of the War, but it quickly became an attempt to both promote economic development by new settlement and to care for potential 'poor whites' within Kenya. Three lotteries in London and Nairobi distributed more than a thousand farms to existing residents and to new settlers, but the scheme was basically a re-affirmation of existing land policy in that emphasis was strongly placed on the allotment of large area of land to those with the capital to devfelop it. Keya's 'small men' gained little from the scheme and it acquired a justified reputation for allowing an unfair distribution of land, widespread speculation and evasion of regulations governing the development and sale of the farms. As an exercise in land settlement, however, the scheme was not a failure and when considered in the context of other Imperial land settlement schemes at the time, it can be counted a success. The scheme and its aftermath, however, also illustrated the contrants on any attempt to make Kenya another Australia. Kenya was a rich white man's country for economic and geographical reasons. The settlers who were attracted to Kenya by the scheme amply justified the country's reputation in this respect. Their financial social, educational and military backgrounds corresponded to those of the upper and professional classes in british society. They were members of an elite before coming to Kenya and their main reason for participation in the scheme was to preserve that status from the threat of post-war inflation. The soldier settlers possessed political. And economic skills which, in the year following 1919, they used to overcome the problems involved in land settlement in Kenya and to construct an economic system which showed both their weakness as agriculturalists and their strength as "British subjects of purely European origin". The soldier settlers also brought a number of new influences to bear on the political life, society and racial attitudes of settler Kenya. The most important of these influences was experience of British India. "Anglo-Indian" soldier settlers provided much of the impetus for settler resistance in the post-war India Question. The society and way of life of the soldier settlers, while reflecting the model of upper class life in Britain was often patterned on india hill stations. The racial attitudes of the settlers were frequently buttressed by Indian Examples. The basic foundations of settler Kenya, however reained unaltered by the new arrivals. The main source of conflict in settler politics remained the division between urban merchants and rural producers. The society and way of life of settler Kenya and its attitudes to other races and to the Imperial power were determined by the settler position as a small minority Dependent on Britain for survival. The effect of the scheme and the new settlers on the other races of Kenya was chiefly visible in land questions. The scheme represented and curtailment of Asian and African frontiers and the actual alienation of African land for white settlement. The scheme caused caused much disquiet among the Kikuyu, culminating in the formation of the Kikuyu Association, but it was the Nandi tribe which suffered most from the scheme as a substantial portion of their land wa taken for it. Isolated from nationalist political activity, the Nandi used both their traditional leadership and, more importantly, the image which they held as "good" Africans to reverse the tide of the settler frontier. The development was symptomatic of the retreat of the soldier settler frontier as a whole, as age and the rise of African nationalism ended the role which the soldier settlers had played in Kenya. They and contributed much to settler Kenya, but their numbers had been insufficient to make their influence permanent. aKenya's Asian population ensured that urban whites were fundamentally expatriate managers and land settlement, the primary aim of settler immigration policy, was incapable of of creating a European population which could maintain itself without British support. Geography and the possession of a white skin in an African country, which had given the settlers their place in Kenya, were also to bring them down.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available