Movement, Settlement and Land-use by the Akamba of Machakos County up to c.1895 in Kenya.
This article is an introduction to the environmental history of Machakos County. It creates a background to an investigation of the impact of colonial rule on the County’s environmental history. The theoretical perspective of political ecology was applied in the understanding of the relationship between the Machakos Akamba and their environment in the pre-colonial period in this article. Political institutions developed by the Akamba were patterned according to land-use systems. Data for the article was drawn from both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources included archival records at the Kenya National Archives and oral interviews. Secondary data was collected using both unpublished and published works. Descriptive data analysis using qualitative methods of content analysis was applied. In analysing the pre-colonial history of the Akamba the study concluded that the community remained in contact with other communities, especially the Maasai and Kikuyu and later with the Swahili and Arab traders. The entry of colonial rule altered these relations. This led to changes in the social organisation and adaptation to environmental conditions through the acceleration of trade, migration and raiding activities. As the community was still adapting, colonial rule halted the re-organisation process of the community’s socio-political and economic systems. The study’s recommendations are directed to an examination of the establishment of colonial rule in Machakos County and its impact on environmental change and adaptation.