The role of indigenous knowledge on the development of iron industry among the Tugen of Baringo County in 1895-1963 in Kenya

  • Sarah J Kiptala School of Education, History Department, Kabarak University, Kenya
  • John Changach Moi University, Kenya
  • Paul Opondo Moi University, Kenya
Keywords: indigenous industry, indigenous knowledge, iron making


The role of indigenous knowledge on the development of iron industry among the Tugen of Baringo County; Kenya. The study examined two distinctive epochs from which the understanding of how ironwork in Tugen land was conducted. They learnt the skill through their interaction with their physical environments to cope with the changing climatic conditions by making suitable artefacts for the varied demands in all sectors. The study relied on oral traditions and archival sources as primary sources. Secondary sources were utilised, such as unpublished works like articles, books, and thesis. The study described the distribution, methods and techniques and the procedure used in ironwork. It further assessed the types and uses of iron products. This study established the forces that led to the dismantling of the industry during the early periods of colonial rule, such as taxation, forced labour, settler farming, and western education. Ironwork 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 and resilience of the industry. The Tugen devised ways of survival to compete favourably with the British colonisers, which led to the Tugen transformation of the iron industry from 1945. This paper raised an argument against this position. The study has recorded the Tugen iron industry for posterity purposes. The study recommends the inclusion of indigenous knowledge to any industrial development and innovation in the country.