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When Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of US arrived in Kenya for big game hunting in 1909 , he was advised to use Kiboko (whip) to the maximum since it was the only language Africans understood to stay orderly.
Edgar Beacher Bronson, an American big game hunter who had just finished his safari in Kenya before the arrival of Roosevelt, wrote:
"Roosevelt will have to close his eyes and accustom himself to occasional severe floggings of the African wapagazi (porters), for without it no safari could be held together a fortnight; discipline would soon disappear and that quickly be followed by open revolt,"
Kiboko is a flexible, but stiff straight whip cut out of hippo hide, that when used on human skin it draws blood or raises welts double its own diameter.
To justify its use on Africans Bronson claimed a black man's skin has a far coaser fibre than the white man's, and therefore endures and recovers from punishment and wounds no white man could survive.
He went on to cite his own experience in whipping African porters, claiming that most of them never held a grudge for whipping.
You order him to lie down " he goes without a murmur and uncomplaining until the flogging is finished, and often springs to his feet, draws himself up and salutes his bwana."
While Roosevelt had accepted the services of Somali servants based on Sir William McMillan's farm at Kilimambogo, his chosen head of Safari Mr. J. Cunninghame was greatly opposed to the idea and instead proposed the Waswahili.
His reason being that the Waswahili could easily take in viboko's without complaining unlike the Somali who could not stand a blow, a kick or a Kiboko. Any man who treated them badly was pretty certain to end up with a knife sticking in his ribs sooner or later.
The only person they feared and respected was their employer at Kilimambogo, Sir MacMillan, who had established extraordinary authority and influence over them as a master. But even then, he was none too safe.
Bronson also narrated how one day he punched his Somali askari in the face for passing him the wrong bullets. To his surprise the poor man while grinning in pain drew himself up and gravely said: " You are my Bwana and my father, good!"
Acccording to him he knew the response was not genuine, and it was only a matter of days, weeks or months before he ended up with a knife in his ribs. He only felt safe after his train pulled out of Nairobi on his way to America.
For a very long time physical violence against African servants was an integral and characteristic part of European domination in Kenya, and was part of a peculiar pattern of race relations.