Social Meanings of the Tea Basket among Tea Pickers: Case of Nandi Hills, Nandi County Kenya
Tea growing was first introduced in Kenya in 1903 by GWL Caine. However the commercialization of tea was introduced in 1924 marked by the introduction of the first commercial estates. Since then tea growing has been subject to a myriad social and economic encounters. In trying to understand these effects efforts have mainly focused on the etic perspectives of the pickers hence making them passive actors. The article therefore investigated the social meanings of the basket among the tea pickers from an emic perspective. In specific the article investigated the social meanings of the basket among the tea pickers, the lived experiences of the tea pickers and their subsequent copying strategies. The study was guided by the social construction theory and the interpretative phenomenological analysis theoretical framework. The study adopted an ethnographic research design in which data was collected from seventeen respondents who were selected through convenience. The study utilized in-depth interviews and FGDS methods of data collection. The data collected was transcribed ad verbatim and thematically analyzed. The study found out that the basket was constructed as a husband, bread winner, lifetime burden, overloaded vehicle and as lifetime companion. The lived experiences centered on spouse separation and single parenthood, school dropout, HIV/AIDS and early marriages. As a consequence the study found out that most to the tea pickers responded to alcoholism, joined into self-help groups while others resorted in normalizing pain and suffering. In this regard the article concluded that in a bid to mitigate the social and economic effects of tea and tea picking it is imperative to primarily focus on the social constructions of the basket among the tea pickers while incorporating their lived experiences as the first step into solution searching.