Waah - Mzungu complaints about African farm labour in Kenya in 1930

I came across this article written in the 1930s about the problems white farmers were facing with african labour.

cc: @Ndindu @FieldMarshal CouchP






Ame sema madame wa nandi walikuwa ma kunguru !

The ghaseer wonders why people aren’t enthusiastic about working, then solves the mystery by admitting they’re paid peanuts.

This is too complex a topic. Mtu hana degree hawes toboa. You too cannot grasp the main themes in the article. You need to be specially thick to make any reference to work ethic after reading such.

Hehehe. He should’ve signed it , “Yours truly, an ignorant whiny bitch.”

Jamaa haoni ako kwa shamba ya wenyewe by force anashindwa why the owner doesn’t want to work for the person who displaced him from his own land.

It must have been very tough during colonial times coz you either work on the mzungu farms or you go back to the congested native reserves. You needed a visa/pass to move out of your village. And yet you see kina @Ndindu saying that we should have been colonised for another 50yrs.



Given those two unpalatable options, most would have chosen the discomfort of the reserves to the pseudo-slavery on Bwana’s farm. That’s why they had to introduce the hut tax, which one had to pay with cash. The only way to get that cash would be to work for the beberu. We had no need or use for money before the white devils showed up.

Which book is this from?

500 acre Mzungu Pyrethrum farm 1930s. @Ndindu 's grandpa ameinama hapo mbele amechapa job kweli kweli. Interesting there were no trees on farms then unlike today.



Being invaded then forced to work for others in your own land doesn’t make for a motivated workforce.

The mzungu shows his lack of reasoning capacity by comparing the situation with nordic farms.

Forgetting that a few centuries back in Europe they were in a similar place.

True… hio ksh 15 per month ni kama 9k sikuizi


From the paragraphs below written in the 1930s, the price of a goat/sheep then was about Sh 40. So the monthly pay of Sh 15 was less than half a goat, and is the equivalent to about 3,500 bob today assuming a goat is 9k today.


Funny thing, despite the change we have in Kenya, that energy is the same up to now. @Ndindu amelia hapa mambo ya excellence na hardwork hadi amechoka.

But me thinks it was just the social nature of africans that no one should be higher than another. Mwenye ako juu anasaidia hao wengine by apende asipende. Apeane ama aibiwe.

Haha, na bado alikufa ama akarudi kwao mahali life ilikuwa imemshinda in the first place ghaseer.

The concept of being employed by someone or working for someone was alien to africans. Among the agikuyu when someone became of age (marrying and starting own family) he was shown a piece of land by the family or clan to cultivate and raise his animals to fend for his family. The farm produce and animals would be exchanged for whatever goods the individual wanted. Hii maneno ya kufanyia mzungu or mwafrika mwenzako kazi was unheard of. Infact if an individual required extra labour for eg construction a house or clearing land for cultivation, the villagers provided free labour as long as you cooked food and muratina for them.

Isnt this the same as kufanyia kazi mtu and being paid? Only difference is the medium of exchange. Instead of cash, ni muratina na mbuzi

still going on in 2023 with employers calling graduands “half baked”

No. The food and beer was to appreciate the help. When a villager needed to build a house or clear land, fellow villagers were required/obliged to go and help, and the activity would be finished in one day. However if you wanted to cultivate more land, you had to marry more wives since the help was only for clearing new land/virgin land.

Even grazing was done communally with stock from different families mixed and grazed together and the different families alternating to provide young men to take care of the stock for different days. All livestock had markings on the ears so an individual could identify their livestock.

In other words, there was no paid work.

This all sounds very altruistic and romanticised. And by the way, work is paid whether it was cash or mbuzi.

Even the example of taking care of the stock is paid back by others taking care of the same. Its the same “I’ll scratch your back and you mine” kind of mentality. Its there fore not free

However, i find it interesting how Kyuks took to the cash economy so wholeheartedly after all this utopian behaviour in the past