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Chapter 8 “They Give Me Fever” East Coast Fever and Other Environmental Impacts of the Maasai Moves Lotte Hughes It is widely acknowledged that the Maasai of British East Africa (BEA, later renamed Kenya) were relieved of the best part of their territory in the 1900s and moved at gunpoint into reserves, in order to free up the highlands for white settlement.1 European financial interests, suggest G. H. Mungeam, M. P. K. Sorrenson, Diana Wylie, and others, were the main driver behind moves in the period 1904–5 and from 1911 to 1913, involving upward of twenty thousand people and at least 2.5 million livestock.2 But by the time of the second move, from Laikipia in the highlands to what is now western Narok District, was there a related but less obvious motive, linked to settler pressure on government to take action on East Coast fever (ECF) and grant white farmers more land in ECF-free areas? My research indicates that ECF was a key factor in the second move, which is barely mentioned in the written literature but is foregrounded in Maasai oral testimony. It was my elderly informants’ insistence on linking ECF to the moves and land losses, within minutes of beginning to talk about them, that alerted me to this possibility. Oral claims, albeit problematic, can in part be verified in veterinary and other archival sources. “They Give Me Fever” |  The existing historical literature on the moves does not cover the disease angle or the environmental impacts. Neither does it include Maasai oral testimony on this or any other aspect of the moves and related events, which is revelatory. Mungeam, Sorrenson, and T. H. R. Cashmore focus largely on official policy toward the Maasai, settler influence upon it, the differences and strained relations between the protectorate government and the Colonial Office (CO), and what happened as a result. R. L. Tignor covers these issues in less detail,mentioning in passing the incidence of ECF in the Southern Maasai Reserve.3 Wylie’s interest is in the renegade British civil servants who challenged this policy and the wider human rights networks to which they belonged. Richard Waller has produced rich histories of the Maasai but has not researched the moves themselves.4 Colonial civil servant George Sandford, author of an official history of the Maasai reserves, described the diseases that afflicted Maasai livestock before and after the moves, but his account cannot be considered scholarly or independent , even though it is a valuable source. Polemical books published in the 1920s by Dr. Norman Leys and his friend William McGregor Ross (Wylie’s subjects) are also important contemporary sources, not scholarly histories.5 Therefore, my analysis fills a gap, while also complementing— and casting new light upon—existing material. Initially called African Coast fever, ECF was first diagnosed in the protectorate in 1904, in a herd of cattle brought from the Kilimanjaro area of German East Africa to Nairobi.6 A disease of cattle caused by the protozoan parasite Theileria parva, carried by the brown ear tick, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus , it hampered early European settlers’ attempts to establish dairy and beef ranches.7 Lord Delamere, who settled in the protectorate in 1903, lost nearly all his young stock to it at Njoro in the Rift Valley. Settlers were panicked by news of the devastation being caused by ECF in Rhodesia and the Transvaal.8 Winston Churchill was briefed about ECF when he visited BEA in 1907 as a Colonial Office minister and suggested remedies—wire fencing and quarantine—in his account of that journey.9 By 1909–10, ECF was seriously worrying settlers, who lobbied the new governor, Percy Girouard . He wired the CO on behalf of farmers who were demanding more land in so-called clean areas.10 Later, the CO discovered that Girouard had promised land on Laikipia to settlers before the Maasai had “agreed” to vacate it and lied to the CO about these pledges—a deception that led to his downfall. According to official correspondence between London and BEA, the highlands were free of ECF at this stage. In February 1910, Girouard begged the CO for more money to prevent ECF’s spreading to the highlands. A  | Lotte Hughes year later, Laikipia was apparently still free of the disease when Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Francis Brandt visited the Northern Reserve to investigate an outbreak of bovine pleuropneumonia (BPP) in Maasai herds and to find out whether ECF was known there. Maasai told him...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821443101
Related ISBN
9780821418857
MARC Record
OCLC
681350866
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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