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Social-Economic & Political Organisation of Kenyan

Social, Economic and Political organisation of Kenyan Societies in the 19th century

The peoples of Kenya migrated from their original homelands and settled in various parts of Kenya . Use the scroll bar to see peoples' movement from various places.

People and their movements

The Bantu

The term Bantu refers to a group of people who speak related languages. They make up the largest language group in Africa. Use the scroll bar to see Bantus movement from their origin..

Bantu migration and settlement


 

The social political and economic organization of the Ameru in the 19th Century

The Ameru belong the Eastern group of the Bantu. As they migrated, they interacted with various communities. This interaction enabled them to develop a system of government that ensured high standards of morality and stability.There are several sub-tribes of the Ameru.These are;  Igembe, Tigania, Imenti Miitine, Igoji, Mwimbi, Muthambi, Chuka, Tharaka. The map provided in the next page shows the current settlement of the Ameru.


 





 

The current settlement of the Ameru

The Ameru

Lesson

Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

describe the political, social and economic organization of the Ameru in the 19th century

Social organization

There are several aspects of the Ameru social organization.

1. they had councils which ranged from the children councils to the supreme councils.

2. the supreme council was known as Njuri Ncheke. This council made the moral code which was followed by all.

Council of elders, Njuri Ncheke

3. the council ensured a high standard of morality in the society.

4. there were penalties for those who did not adhere to the moral code for example they paid fines like a bundle of miraa, a pot of cowpeas for women and even a bull or goat.
5. marriage was an important social institution. Marriage within the same clan was not allowed

6. the Ameru believed in the existence of a supreme God called Baaba Weetu (our father). They believed that their God was omnipresent and was loving to all.
7. they believed in the existence of spirits who played a significant role in the community.

8. they believed in life after death.

9. they initiated both boys and girls through circumcision

10. initiation was important because it ensured upright behavior, instilled courage and enhanced the devotion of a person to the community.

 

11. there was division of labor among the Ameru for example women built houses while men defended the community.

The movie shows a woman smoothing the wall of her house.

 

 

Social organization

There are several aspects of the Ameru social organization.

1. they had councils which ranged from the children councils to the supreme councils.

2. the supreme council was known as Njuri Ncheke. This council made the moral code which was followed by all.

Council of elders, Njuri Ncheke

 

 

11. there was division of labor among the Ameru for example women built houses while men defended the community. The movie shows a woman smoothing the wall of her house.

 

 

Political Organization

1.The clan formed the basis of the Ameru political system

2.They had a system of councils which was in charge of the day to day running of the community

3.The supreme council of elders was called Njuri Ncheke. This council was responsible for settling disputes. They also presided over religious ceremonies and functions

Njuri Ncheke

 


 

4. The Ameru had an age set system which provided the community with warriors for defense. The warriors were called Nthaka and were isolated from the community for military training

5. They had religious leaders who influenced their political administration, for example Mugwe.

Economic Organization

The Ameru engaged in various economic activities. These included

1. cultivation crops like millet, black beans and miraa

2. kept animals like cattle, sheep and goats

sheep

 

 


 

3.  traded with their neighbors for example the Agikuyu

4.  made iron tools like spears, arrows and knives

5. hunted wild animals and gathered wild fruits and vegetables to supplement their diet

6.  practiced basketry, weaving and pottery

Basket

 

 



 

 

The Social, Political and Economic organization of the Abagusii in the 19th century

The Abagusii belong to the Western Bantu speakers. They settled in the Kisii Highlands in the southern parts of Nyanza.

Current settlement of the Kisii

 

Lesson

Objectives

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

Describe the social, political and economic organisation of the Abagusii in the pre-colonial period.

Social Organization of the Abagusii

1. The clan was the basis of their social organization. Members of the clan shared a common ancestor.

2. They circumcised both boys and girls.

3. During initiation, the initiates were taught community values, customs. Taboos and secrets.

4. The Abagusii believed in the existence of a powerful God called Engoro, who was the overall creator.

5. They believed in ancestral spirits who mediated between God and man.

6.They offered sacrifices to appease the spirits.

7. They had diviners, seers and priests.

8. Priests offered prayers whereas diviners interpreted God's message to the people.

Political Organization of the Abagusii

1. The clan formed the basis of their political setup.

2. Each clan occupied a ridge and was led by a council of Elders. The council of Elders had the following functions:

(i) It solved clan and land disputes

(ii) It maintained law and order

(iii) It disciplined offenders and law breakers

2. The Abagusii had a hereditary clan Chief called Omogambi (plural Abagambi). The Abagambi presided over religious ceremonies.

4. They had age-sets formed after circumcision. These acted as the military wing responsible for the defence of the community.

Economic organization of the Abagusii

They engaged in several economic activities. They;

1. cultivated crops like millet and sorghum.

2. kept animals like cattle, sheep and goats for meat, milk and skins

A goat

 

3. traded with their neighbors, for example the Luo.They exchanged grains, iron tools and soapstone with the Luo for fish.
 

The Cushites

The cushitic speakers are said to have originated from the Ethiopian Highlands. It is from here that they moved to their current homelands. In Kenya they arrived in two groups, the Eastern and southern Cushites

Current settlement of the Cushites

The social political and economic organization of the Somali in the 19th century

The Somali are the largest group of Eastern Cushitic speakers in Kenya. They are believed to have originated from the Northern part of present day Somalia along the Gulf of Eden. The Somali of Kenya speak the same language with their kin in Somalia. The map provided in the next page shows their current settlement.

Current settlement of the Somali

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Lesson

Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

discuss the social, political and economic organization of the Somali in the 19th Century

 

Social Organization

1. Their social setup was based on the clan which consisted of related families

2. They circumcised boys who became members of an age set

3. They believed in the existence of a God called Wak whom they believed was creator and controller of all aspects of their lives

4. They also had people who mediated between them and god in the religious centers

5. In the 16th century, they interacted with Muslims and adopted Islamic culture and religion

6. There was division of labor according to gender, for example men took care of animals while women carried out domestic chores and constructed houses

7. The institution of marriage was highly valued and was polygamous in nature.

8. Marriage within the same clan was not allowed.

 

 

Social Organization

Political Organization of the Somali

1.The Somali had a decentralized system of government

2.It was based on the clan which comprised of related families

3.Due to their pastoralists� way of life, their political organization was not stable

4.The clan was headed by a council of elders which had the following duties:

a) maintaining law and order

b) settling land disputes

 

5.The Somali had the age set system which formed the basis of their military organization. The age sets had a responsibility of defending the community


 

6.Due to Islamic influence, the Somali political set up was changed. They adopted the institution of sheikhs and imams as leaders of the community

An Imam

 

 

7.The political system was based on the Islamic sharia law

 

 

 

 

Economic activities of the Somali

The Somali had several economic activities

1. They were nomadic pastoralists

Herd of camels

 

 

 

 

2. They kept animals like camels, cattle, goats and sheep from which they got milk, blood and meat.

An animation of the animal products

 

 

 

3. They traded with their neighbors. They exchanged their goods with the Pokomo and the MijiKenda

4. A section of the Somali practiced iron working and craft industries for example pottery and weaving.

Pots

 

5. They practiced hunting and gathering

 

 

 

Nilotes

The craddle land of the Nilotic speakers is said to be Bahr el Gaza in Sudan. From these place, they moved and settled in different areas. One group settled along the River Nile region and came to be known as the River Lake Nilotes. Another group moved into the plains and glasslands of the Rift valley and were known as the plain Nilotes. The other group settled around Mount Elgon and came to be known as the the Highlands Nilotes. In this lesson we are going discuss the maasai.

A group of Maasais

The social political and economic organization of the Maasai in the 19th century

The Maasai belong to the plain Nilotic speakers. They expanded as far as Northern Tanzania by the end of the second half of the 18th Century. By 19th Century, they had reached the peak of their power and they developed political, social and economic institutions. The map provided shows their current settlement.

 

Current settlement of the Maasai

 

 

Lesson

Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 Discuss the social, political and economic organization of the Maasai in the 19th Century

Social organization of the maasai

1. Their social organization was based on the clan. Each clan had a particular brand of cattle. There were five clans which were spread throughout Maasai land

2. They circumcised both boys and girls at puberty

Maasai circumcision ceremony

 


 

3. After initiation, the boys joined an age set which they belonged to for the rest of their lives

4. The age set formed a bond that united all the Maasai

5. Boys circumcised together joined the junior warrior class called the Morans

Junior morans

 

 

 

6. The Morans lived in special homesteads called Manyattas

Maasai manyatta

 

7. The Maasai had diviners and medicine men.

8. By the first half of the 19th century, the Purko Maasai created the institution of the Oloibon

9. The Oloibon was a religious leader who presided over religious ceremonies. He was the custodian of rituals. He blessed the warriors before going to war.

10. The Maasai believed in the existence of a God called Enkai

11. They offered prayers and sacrifices to Enkai at the shrines

12. The Maasai had several social ceremonies which marked their rites of passage like birth, circumcision and death

13. The most important of these ceremonies was the Euonoto ceremony that marked the graduation of the Morans into junior elders

Political organization of the Maasai

1. The largest political unit among the Maasai was the tribal section. It was a geographically distinct entity which operated as a nation

2. Their governing system was based on the age set. For example, affairs involving inter clan cooperation were delt with within meetings comprising age set spokesmen

3. After circumcision, the Morans joined the rank of junior warriors whose functions included:

i. defending the community against external attacks

ii. conducting raids for cattle

4. The warriors were led by a military leader called Olaiguani

5. The Maasai had junior elders who formed the political authority. The junior elders had the following functions

i. they evaluated the day to day issues affecting the community

ii. they were the heads of their households

iii. they maintained law and order

A maasai heding cattle

 

6. The junior leaders were allowed to own livestock

7. The junior elders graduated into senior elders. This comprised the senior most age set among the Maasai

8. Senior elders delt with difficult cases and political decisions

 

Junior elders gaduating to seniors elders


 


9. In the 19th century, the maasai adapted the institution of the Oloibon, a religious leader who assumed political powers

10.The Oloibon became a unifying force for example during time of crisis like war

 

 

 

Economic organization of the Maasai

1.The Maasai were mainly pastoralists. They practiced nomadic pastoralism. Cattle provided milk and meat, and were a measure of one's wealth.

2.They raided their neighbors for cattle e.g., they raided the Luo, the Nandi, Agikuyu and Abagusii

Maasai Worriors

3. A section of the Maasai, the Kwavi, practiced cultivation of crops like finger millet and sorghum in addition to pastoralsim

4.They traded with their neighbors for example the Agikuyu, Kalenji, Taita and Abagusii

5.They practiced crafts like basket weaving, making leather items like sandals and necklaces

Maasai ornaments

 

 

6. The Maasai practiced hunting and gathering to supplement their diet

7. They practiced iron-working and they made items like spears, arrowheads, hoes and swords

Some of the iron tools made by the maasai

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