'Paying for the Emergency by displacing the Settlers' : global coffee and rural restructuring in late colonial Kenya.

Article


Hyde, D. 2009. 'Paying for the Emergency by displacing the Settlers' : global coffee and rural restructuring in late colonial Kenya. Journal of Global History. 4 (1), pp. 81-103.
AuthorsHyde, D.
Abstract

Global coffee markets entered into a deep cyclical downturn from the mid 1950s. As producers, notably Brazil and Colombia, continued to increase their output, intense struggles arose among global competitors for larger slices of a contracting market. The prospect of an economic catastrophe, following the release of Brazil's surplus stocks, preoccupied Kenya's colonial government, which was dependent on tax revenues derived from coffee sales, and was less able to support the settler-dominated industry in the face of the increased costs incurred by the Mau Mau Emergency after 1952. This left European settlers exposed, with many barely able to recover their costs of production. What began as a counter-insurgency strategy, by allowing an elite of African farmers to grow Arabica coffee (a privilege formerly reserved to settlers) was enlarged and accelerated in response to unrelenting global market pressures. These compelled the colonial government to beckon low-cost African farmers into coffee production, in a bid to save its tax base and ensure the survival of the coffee sector. Even though the Coffee Marketing Board confiscated much of their income, African farmers proved well able to rally family labour and achieve surpluses. Rationalization of production and the re-organization of the commodity chain to maintain high quality at lower cost were decisive in both reconfiguring the economic and social relationships that underpinned Kenya's independence in 1963 and securing the country's place on the world market. The aim here is to explain the crisis, and its grip on Kenya's economy during the transition to independence and beyond.

KeywordsCoffee; Plantations
JournalJournal of Global History
Journal citation4 (1), pp. 81-103
Year2009
PublisherCambridge University Press
Accepted author manuscript
License
Publisher's version
File Access Level
Repository staff only
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1017/S1740022809002964
Web address (URL)http://doi.org/10.1017/S1740022809002964
http://hdl.handle.net/10552/1208
Publication dates
Print01 Mar 2009
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Apr 2011
Copyright informationCopyright © London School of Economics and Political Science 2009. The definitive version of this article is published by Cambridge University Press at http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1740022809002964
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