The Migrant Labour System in the Asian-Owned Sugar Plantations in Kisumu County, Kenya, 1940 –1963
Osamba, Joshia Otieno
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This paper examines the contribution of the African migrant labour to the expansion of Asian sugar plantation industry in Kisumu County of Kenya. These factors included government policies and the availability of cheap African labour. The article is informed by the underdevelopment theory. Using the perspective, the paper demonstrates how colonial land and labour policies led to the underdevelopment of the peasant sector in Kisumu County. It was through the establishment of colonial rule that the County was incorporated into the World Capitalist System. Asian capitalist farming was concentrated in few areas such as the Kibos-Muhoroni Settlement, leaving the rest in pre-capitalist state which could be exploited as low cost labour reservoir. Thus, the Asian settlement area served as an "export enclave" to which the African reserves provided cheap labour. The growth of such "export enclaves" contributed to the underdevelopment and impoverishment of the peasant sector. The article contends that colonial capitalism had numerous negative effects on the African peasants in Kisumu County. It concludes that colonialism in its manifold forms intensified the underdevelopment in Kisumu County. Material for the article is derived from archival research, oral interviews and analysis of existing works on socio-economic history in general and agriculture in particular. The study contributes to the Asian historiography in Kenya.