Station OR / Colonialism and borders
In order to control the African population, European colonial powers used borders as instruments of power. However, transnational and mobile realities in the Kenyan borderlands contradict a clear separation of tightly connected local societies.
The majority of today’s borders between African countries were established during colonial times. The “Congo Conference”, which took place in Berlin in 1885 – more or less behind closed doors and without African interest groups – is considered a key event.
In colonial Kenya in the 1920s, it became compulsory for all adult males to wear an identification document in a metal case around their neck. The intention was to restrict the movement of the African population, and to make it easier for the colonial government to collect taxes.
Border identity as a security risk: On the contemporary registration of borderland residents in Kenya
The effects of colonial borders continue to have an impact. In the course of independence, the majority of the African Union agreed to maintain the colonial borders – above all in order to prevent territorial wars.
Many people deal with the question “Where do I belong?” in their lives. How we locate ourselves in the world is shaped by social categories that often sort themselves through an either/or logic.
In total, over 70 different population groups live in Kenya. In colonial times, new political borders suddenly ran right through the middle of many such local communities, which nevertheless remained interconnected.