Article from ROAPE Volume 8 Number 20
Kenya Peasantry: a Re-assessment
Both Mukaru Ng'ang'a and Anyang 'N'yong'o leave out very important theoretical and historical issues in their discussion of the Kenyan peasantry. The peasantry cannot be seen outside the totality of the social formation in which it is found. The peasantry, further, occupies a critical position in the transition to capitalism, a process which involves an equally transitory class of the peasantry called the middle peasantry. In Kenya, the emergence of this class, and its confusion with a peasant bourgeoisie, has been problematic. As other sections of the peasantry have been impoverished, such categories as large scale/small scale production have not helped in clarifying issues. Instead, statistics have been used blindly to prove that better incomes are trickling down to the peasant producers in the countryside, hence a healthy capitalist development with income re-distribution. This essay argues that no such thing is taking place: there is a differentiation of the peasantry due to capitalist development in agriculture with the majority of the peasantry being reduced to owners of patches of land every day.