English-speaking countries: a different picture
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CTA. 1993. English-speaking countries: a different picture. Spore 48. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Unlike their French counterparts, English colonialists did not seek to impose the concept of private ownership, and adopted a policy of each individual holding the land where he was. Thus the land was divided between the natives and the...
Unlike their French counterparts, English colonialists did not seek to impose the concept of private ownership, and adopted a policy of each individual holding the land where he was. Thus the land was divided between the natives and the colonialists, with both seeking to get the most out of the land they had, and with little regard to the legal system in force. Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch emphasizes:'...the custom was codified by the great chiefs and the headmen who were on the spot. Despite the fact that they were influenced by their own interests as the ruling class favoured by the colonial status quo, and that their decisions had to be approved by the British governor, they nonetheless had the authority to modify customary usage and thus to give it legal status.' In British colonies, therefore, improved agricultural techniques were much more likely to promote a modernization of the economy than to undermine the social fabric. In Tanganyika the colonial powers were able to declare that 'the introduction of draft power, the intensification of mixed farming and the improvement of the livestock population would stand a much higher chance of success within the common law system making use of the traditional tribal territories.' Although this policy brought about fewer and less acute difficulties in land tenure than in francophone countries, it was not entirely problem-free. In Kenya large areas of pastureland were granted to white settlers. The creation of national parks and the spread of agricultural land have eaten away at the space used by the pastoralists and this is now only half what it was at the beginning of the century. When the authorities tried to establish rights of pasture on Maasai lands the result was disastrous. The herdsmen had to sell the property deeds to private farmers because they were left with so little space they could no longer practice the ancestral pasturage customs which allowed the land to regenerate.
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