Karatina: economic changes and their impact on the economic activities of Mathira Division, Nyeri District, Kenya, 1902-1963
Wanyoike, Mary W
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This study 5hows that the growth of Karatina was due to two main factors - its location in an agriculturally productive area as well as on the Thika-Nanyuki railway line. In addition, it illustrates that, during the pre-colonial era Karatina was established and organized to cater for economic and 50cio- political functions. But although there is continuity, colonialism significantly altered the role of Karatina which - became an administrative centre at the onset of British administration. In view of this the thesis examines the economic changes that were brought about by the British colonialism in Mathira. It demonstrates that, henceforth, the multi-functional characteristics of Karatina were maintained but within the framework of the colonial system. Equally, Karatina now became a settlement centre for Inqian traders who were largely instrumental in the introduction of a cash economy and subsequent commercialization of agriculture especially during the first two and a half decades of colonial rule. Furt~er, the activities of the Indians at Karatina are shown to have contributed to the decline of some pre-colonial economic activities in Mathira. The significance of the building of the Thika-Nanyuki railway line and the establishment of ~ railway station at Karatina are also examined. The study shows that the railway line stimulated and accelerated the commercialization of agriculture, which contributed to the decline of the importance of traditional food crops. Mor.over, the railway line facilitated the ~xploitation of Kikuyu land and labour. This climaxed during the Second World War when a Dri~d Vegetable Factory was built at Karatina. Above all, physical, the railway lin~ is shown to have contributed to the commercial and demographic growth of Karatina. Significantly, ~ulking and bulk-breaking activities as well as consignment trade were encouraged. These, in turn, are shown to have contributed to th~ prosperity of some Kikuyu traders. Nevertheless, the growth of Karatina was also accompanied by changes in the overall organization of the m~rket place. Similarly, the thesis demonstrates that the attitude of the Kikuyu towards the Indian traders changed. The study also illustrates that the urban c~ntre became increasingly dependent on Mathira for its development and vice versa. Finally, the study concludes that the process of urbanization at Karatina has roots in the pre-colonial period. The major changes that have taken place as well as the contributory factors that have shaped her growth are taken into account. Th~se, in turn, are shown to have affected the economic activities in Mathira Division as a whole. In snort, a symbiotic-cum-parasitic relationship has developed between the two.