The Coming of the Pink Cheeks

Teaching Activity PDF. By Chief Kabongo as told to Richard St. Barb e Baker. 7 pages. Story of what happened to the Kikuyu people of Kenya when Europeans took control of their land.

  • Time Periods: 19th Century, 20th Century | Themes: Imperialism, Racism & Racial Identity, World History/Global Studies | Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free)

Before European colonialism, most Africans made their living from the soil. More importantly, traditional Africans considered land to be a sacred part of nature and a part of the tribe. Land was not a commodity that could be bought and sold; it was a gift from God that belonged to everybody, like the air.

After many generations—and sometimes after many centuries—a tribe became identified with a particular area. The land was their “property,” belonging not only to the living members but also to the ancestors who had worked the land and to the unborn children who would work the land in the future.

When Europeans came and “bought” land, many misunderstandings developed, for the Africans never meant to “sell” what in their eyes couldn’t be sold.

In the following selection, Chief Kabongo, of the Kikuyu tribe of Kenya, describes what happened to his people when the Europeans took control of Kikuyu land. In his lifetime—from the 1870s to the 1950s—Chief Kabongo saw the sharp changes that took place after the coming of the whites, whom he called the “Pink Cheeks.” [Adapted from Leon Clark (Ed.) Through African Eyes, Vol. 1. New York: CITE Books, 1991.]

This lesson was published by Rethinking Schools in Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World. For more readings and source material on critical global issues like “The Coming of the Pink Cheeks,” order Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World with role plays, interviews, poems, stories, background readings, cartoons, and hands-on teaching activities edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. See Table of Contents.

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