Aspects of Continuity and Change in Leatherwork Indigenous Industry among the Tugen of Baringo County in 1895-1963 in Kenya.

  • Sarah J. Kiptala; Dr Paul Opondo; Prof John Changach. (1)School of Education, History Department, Kabarak University, Kenya. (2)Department of History, Political Science and Public Administration, Moi University, Kenya. (3)Department of Education Foundations, Moi University, Kenya.
Keywords: Indigenous industry, indigenous knowledge, leatherwork, colonialism, independence.


The study examined the approaches that were employed by the Tugen in their knowledge, skills and attitudes acquisition before and during the colonial period of Kenya. The study examined two distinctive epochs from which the understanding of how leatherwork in Tugen land was conducted. The work relied on oral traditions as a primary source. Secondary sources were utilised, such as unpublished works like articles, books, and thesis. Archival sources from Kenya National Archives were extensively used to supplement the sources from primary and secondary. The study described the distribution, methods, techniques, and procedures used in leatherwork. It further assessed the types and uses of leather products. This study established the forces that led to the dismantling of the industry during the early periods of colonial rules, such as taxation, forced labour, settler farming, and western education. Leatherwork in the 1930s underwent re-organisations in the form of labour innovativeness, cultural transformation, marketing strategies etc. These were analysed to ascertain the forces behind the persistence of the industry. The Tugen devised ways of survival to compete favourably with the British colonisers, which led to the Tugen transformation of the leather industry from 1945. The main problem that this study advanced is that Tugenland, like other African societies, is regarded by some people as having not had any form of industry or organisation before the arrival of the colonialists. This paper raised an argument against this position. The study has recorded the Tugen leather industry for posterity purposes.