By Attia, A.; Buisson. G. (ed.)
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Initial, unplanned frontier settlements rarely survived because they were often undermined by disease and conflicts. As a result, human habitation was confined to epidemic-free areas. Swampy, mosquito-infested areas along the banks of rivers and shores of lakes were often avoided. In general, migration and settlement were rational economic, political, and health choices undertaken with the intention of finding epidemic-free and agriculturally secure areas. Thus, the settlement of new terrain was undertaken after very careful consideration and with the clear purpose of reducing the risks of disease and the dangers associated with wildlife, drought, and human conflict.
Therefore, the spiraling mortality rates, the forced displacement, and the disregard for societal ways of addressing disasters not surprisingly produced negative attitudes toward the colonial state’s cherished measures. 28 Health, State and Society in Kenya The foremost challenge to the state was its experts’ sparse knowledge of tropical diseases. In fact, the reluctance of local communities to accept the colonial state’s relocation alternative was not simply based on traditional whims, nor was it without scientific foundation.
On this score the Provincial Commissioner wrote: I am convinced that if the government intends doing anything in the way of moving the people as has already been recommended that, at the start, certainly, we shall require to be prepared to compel them to move. 20 The coercion coincided with the high point of imperial conquest and this blurred the distinction between genuine concerns about health and the state’s militaristic enthusiasm for humbling the local communities into submission. 21 The violence and destruction of The Unsettling Contact: Epidemics, Biomedicine, and the Ideology of Order 21 life and property that accompanied such expeditions were excessive, sometimes leading to protests from officials in London.