Kipande: A colonial instrument of power

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. Women were excluded from this obligation, which had far-reaching consequences for local gender relations, for example within the Maasai group. Women’s economic returns were not considered relevant in the colonial tax system. Thus, the commercial livestock trade of the Maasai community was increasingly concentrated on the male members of the community, and to this day women are largely excluded from this source of income.

The “Kipande” exemplifies that European colonialism aimed at violent domination and exploitation. Its introduction was accompanied by strong protests in the country, led by Harry Thuku and the East African Association.