Beyond cattle and communal land: how the Maasai accommodate privatisation in Kenya

W.W. Wairimu, P.G.M. Hebinck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses the dynamics brought about by privatising land ownership. Changes in land tenure are analysed here from a socio-relational perspective. Changes in land tenure do not just concern ownership but also transform the properties of land space as a result of which new forms of land use emerge. Moreover, this chapter argues that the Maasai are not passive receivers of new land tenure policies enacted by the Kenyan state. They accommodate land tenure changes in many different and unexpected ways. The case discussed here involves the (further) space subdivision of once communal land to group ranches and to individual Maasai families. The further subdivision of land creates space for new practices such as cultivation of crops, notably by women. Men on the other hand build alliances to aggregate smaller pieces of land to allow continuation of a pastoral lifestyle. The chapter also draws attention to land leasing which initiated unsustainable land use practices
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLand Law and Governance
Subtitle of host publicationAfrican Perspectives on Land Tenure and Title
EditorsH. Mostert, L.C.A. Verstappen, J. Zevenbergen
Place of PublicationCape Town
ISBN (Print)9781485120063
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameContemporary Studies in Legal and Applied Research series

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