The Impact of Colonial Policies on the Waata People of Kilifi County, Kenya, 1895-1963
The Waata community is among the indigenous Kenyan communities whose social, political, and economic organization has not been adequately studied. The objective of the study was to examine the impact of colonial policies on the history of the Waata people of Kilifi County in the period 1895-1963. The study was guided by the cultural interaction and identity formation theory. The study was conducted using the descriptive research design which offered a chronology of events as they unfolded over time. A qualitative approach was significant because it allowed an in-depth collection of data to ascertain the attitudes, feelings, and opinions concerning the theme under study. The study site was Kilifi County. The study targeted both males and females above 18 years within Kilifi County who were knowledgeable about the existence of the Waata people. Purposive and snowballing sampling techniques were used to select the sample for the study. One hundred and twenty-two participants were interviewed. The study used both primary and secondary data. Primary data was derived from the one-on-one interaction with participants using interview schedules and Key Informant Interviews, oral interviews, and focus group discussions. Question guides and questionnaires with open-ended responses were also used. Secondary data was obtained from critical analysis of books, articles, papers, thesis, and dissertations. Additionally, archival sources, particularly colonial documents, annual reports, correspondents, letters, diaries, and political record books related to the area under study were consulted. The findings of the study revealed that colonial policies impacted significantly on the history of the Waata forcing them to adapt to different lifestyles in order to survive cultural extinction. This adaptation was informed by the colonial labelling of traditional hunting communities like the Waata as poachers and the progressive government efforts to stop them from their traditional source of livelihood as well as their eviction from their indigenous habitats and creation of National Parks.
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