Saturday, June 13, 2009
Students, MACODEF, Western Kenya, 2007
According to MACODEF:
The rapid pace of change over the past century has produced many problems in the Maragoli region. The shift from pastoralism and horticulture to partial reliance on the capitalist economy has not been easy, and the unemployment rate stands at over 70% in Western Province. Malaria and HIV/AIDS have hit this area so hard that life expectancy has fallen to 55 years, yet access toclean water and affordable health care is beyond the reach of most. Roughly a third of the population live hand-to-mouth, and half of all families cannot afford to send their children to secondary school. The daily need for firewood has had devasting effects on the local environment.
Some of these problems were inherited from a brutal colonial regime in which British rulers systematically took the best land for themselves, taxed the local people beyond their means and ridiculed "native" customs as barbaric. Many people in Maragoli still remember how certain areas in the nearby city of Kisumu were designated off-limits to non-whites, how they were not allowed to drink European beer, or how they had to stand at attention when a white man drove past them on the road. Many of the current inequities in landholdings and in access to education, health care and wage labor stem from the colonial period and from the favoritism shown by missionaries and colonial administrators to certain groups and individuals at the expense of others.