HC Deb 09 July 1923 vol 166 cc940-1W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the serious statement made in the Legislative Council of Kenya Colony that there is more unrest among the natives of that Colony that he had ever known; whether he has official information to the effect that a fine of 10,000 head of cattle had recently been imposed upon the Masai, and that this fine is in process of collection; whether the Secretary of State has asked the Governor for a Report on the question; and if this Report will be laid upon the Table of the House?


I have seen a newspaper report of the statement by an elected member of the Kenya Legislative Council to the effect quoted by the hon. Member, but apart from the Purko Section of the Masai I have no reason to suppose that the position is in any way serious. In consequence of repeated acts of violence, including murder, by young men of the Purko Section who entered the warrior class in 1920, and of the fact that in many instances the offenders could not be brought to justice, the late Governor approved of the imposition on the Section, under the Collective Punishment Ordinance of 1909, of a fine of 10,000 head of cattle, this being about 3 per cent. of the stock belonging to the Section. My right hon. Friend drew the attention of the present Governor to the apparent severity of the punishment, and for this reason, as well as because a general inquiry into the position of the Masai is in prospect, the collection of the fine has been suspended. The inquiry has been postponed because of the absence in England of an unofficial member of the Executive and Legislative Councils whose experience and understanding of the Masai will be of special value. It will cover the causes and circumstances of the recent Masai unrest and the means of promoting the advancement and prosperity of the Masai tribe. Pending this inquiry, it would, I think, be premature to lay Papers.