Angaine the Harvester who planted seeds of conflict

Minister for Lands and Settlement Jackson Angaine (in glasses) addressing a baraza in Meru town where he urged Mau Mau freedom fighters to surrender and come out of the forest in May 1964 [Courtesy]

The emotive land issues in Kenya can be traced back to post-independence when the elite in government scrambled for prime land left by white settlers.

All one needed to do was sweet talk Lands and Settlement minister Jackson Harvester Angaine to become the proud owner of prime land.

Perhaps this explains why senior government officials, using their proximity to Angaine, got land at the expense of the poor.

The government was initially supposed to settle the landless on parcels bought with loans from Britain and banks. But the implementers, under the watch of Angaine, did the opposite by allocating land to the rich.

Under the dubious Plot Z scheme, the King of Meru as he was fondly known, Angaine sowed the seeds of conflict through his skewed distribution that favoured the rich.

And because of Angaine’s dubious policy, land ownership remains contentious among several communities, five decades later.

Under the scheme, powerful individuals in Jomo Kenyatta’s administration benefited from 100 acres and a colonial house all for a song.  

Incensed, the British government appointed a commission in July 1966 to investigate the Z Plot scheme. The commission led by B. Van Arkadie established that even after being allocated large swathes, their owners did not occupy them.

Kenyatta was annoyed that the Britain was interfering with the scheme, which he insisted must continue under the watchful eye of Angaine who served as Lands and Settlement minister.

Angaine was a Mau Mau veteran who led the war in Meru. It is because of his association with Mau Mau that he became a close friend of Kenyatta who appointed him to the crucial docket upon Kenya attaining independence.

He started as an accountant before plunging into active politics. He was secretary for the Meru Local Native Council and later became chairman of Kenya African Union (KAU) Meru branch.

Considered, the least effective minister, Angaine rarely attended Parliament but Kenyatta had full trust in him on land matters. However, the man had a huge influence and grip of the grassroots back home in Meru.


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