The Giriama and Colonial Resistance in Kenya, 1800-1920


Cynthia Brantley explores the precolonial Giriama’s political and economic system and their dynamic trade relationship with the coast of Kenya in an effort to explain why the Giriama were so determined in their resistance to British pressure. She shows that even when the political and social structures of a people seem weak, it is unlikely that the population will submit to changes that undermine the economy. Moreover, their very lack of a centralized political or religious organization made the imposition of foreign administration extremely difficult. The British won the war, but their victory was hollow.


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