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Title: Unfinished business : the implementation of Land Titles Ordinance in coastal Kenya, 1908-1940's
Author: Hamidin, Abd. Hamid
ISNI:       0000 0004 2686 0834
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2000
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The thesis examines the history of colonial land administration in the coastal region of Kenya between the 1890s and 1940s. Prior to the coming of British colonialism, customary law and Islamic law had governed land disputes in the region. Colonial intervention brought a new concept of land ownership and a new structure for the registration of titles and ownership. The Land Titles Ordinance of 1908 (LTO) was introduced to solve the conflict between Islamic law and customary practice. The L TO was implemented with an eye towards other government policies, notably the creation of designated Native Reserves for the African population and the provision of adequate labour supply for colonial commercial activities. The operation of the L TO was therefore complicated by a number of competing interests. Initial attempts to implement the L TO were only partly successful, and proved to be very costly. As a consequence, government ceased to actively apply the Ordinance in 1922. The thesis will assess the outcome of these early phases of this land reform. By the early 1920s, the colonial government had defined the legal boundaries between different categories of land. However, the LTO had undermined and further complicated existing understanding of Islamic law and customary practice as these related to land. It will be shown that the terms of the LTO in adjudicating ownership contradicted the prevailing local understanding in several important ways. As a result, some Africans found themselves to be denied access to land they believed to be rightfully theirs, while other groups, most notably among the elite were able to exploit the new circumstances to enlarge their personal land holding. One feature of these changes was that ethnicity became an increasingly important determinant of access to land. During the early 1930s, the government sought to again resolve outstanding land questions with the appointment of the Land Commission. This commission concentrated on the White Highlands of central Kenya but also collected a vast amount of data on land problems at the coast. Chapter Five of the thesis examines this material in detail, in particular the special report of Sir Ernest Dowson. Dowson's study emphasized the need to complete the unfinished business of the L TO and provided a scheme for accomplishing this. Over the next decades, however, government showed lack of will to tackle the problems. As a result, land issues in the coastal region remain unresolved. The thesis concludes with some comments on the continuing importance of land litigation at the coast in the 1950s and beyond.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available