Mau Mau Rebellion And The British Response History Essay

In this essay I intend to explicate the rise of the Mau Mau and the ensuing British response from a socio political base point. I will demo that in response to the originating the Colonial governments perpetuated the ‘myth of the Mau Mau ‘ in order to function their ain involvements and supply international justification for their actions. In consequence the ‘myth ‘ was a merchandise of willful credence to prominent racial and ethnocentric positions of the clip. The British in fact went on to perpetuate these already outstanding positions imbedded in the western societal consciousness and in making so provided justification for the barbarian actions to follow, every bit good as lighting already outstanding divides among the native people throughout the settlement. This prevalent attitude spread amongst the caputs of the colonial undertaking and even to local stalwart people making a damaging societal consciousness and ironically this myth did non decrease the cause of the Mau Mau combatants as intended, but it antagonised both sides of the divide, the myth took on a life of its ain culminating in damaging effects to both sides ; in consequence this turned into a war fuelled by bitterness and retaliation.

To demo this I will foremost, give a brief overview of the political background of the Kikuyu people during colonial times. Second, I will analyze the development of the ‘myth of Mau Mau ‘ looking to its beginnings, academic justification and response to it. Third, I will work through the resulting struggle demoing how the myth contributed to the already battalion of divides and societal misconceptions as drama within the struggle ; with mention to the Lari slaughter and Project Anvil. Finally, to reason I will give reference to recent events and challenges to the British tribunals from aged Mau Mau combatants and show that if it was non for racial attitudes and stereotypes and with a little more intelligent idea and credence this violent oppressive war could and should hold ne’er happened.

Origins political background

Over three decennaries taking up to the ‘Mau Mau ‘ rebellion, Africans voiced plangent political concerns despite the obstructor of an unsympathetic colonial province.[ 1 ]Four issues of contention arose to be the chief issues of political argument. Two of these were: low degree African rewards and the abolishment of the kipande. European colonists wished to stay competitory in their agricultural production, which was instead less profitable than the extraction of natural resources, this meant tightening of rewards for the local Kikuyu people. The kipande was an individuality card enforced by the British ; basically it was used for wholly oppressive agencies associating to mobilisation and employment. Two farther deep-seated issues arose from mid-1930 onwards. First, the demand to procure effectual, elective African representation ; antecedently attempts to pull off political relations had been utilised by manner of, nominated and salaried heads who were efficaciously under the influence of European missionaries, who were by manner of the heads efficaciously the voice of the Kenyan people.[ 2 ]Second, the issue of land appropriation and distribution, this had in fact been a bone of contention since the beginning of colonial regulation, nevertheless, this was exacerbated by restricted migration of peoples and enforcement of land segregation due to fastening economic restraints on the European powers in the post-WWII period, doing this the most contested statement and division in Kenya, particularly amongst the Kikuyu people.

By 1950 these political contentions had evolved into three distinguishable political motions: Conservatives, Moderate Nationalists and Militant Nationalists. The Conservative block, comprising of: Chiefs, headsmans, and senior Christian seniors, their authorization had been built up and greatly consolidated through association with the colonial undertaking. These people were a merchandise of Social conditioning ; western instruction carried out by Christian missionaries, dogmatizing a new strain of Kenyans.[ 3 ]The Moderate Patriots emerged from the early 1920 ‘s, antecedently educated ‘mission male childs ‘ , developed westernised attitudes and predominating Christian beliefs once more by manner of colonial conditioning. The old conservative heads were viewed as a barrier to advancement and modernization, a measure off from traditional values and cultural political relations.[ 4 ]A materialist competition fuelled and intensified their political battles ; in a conflict for power the difference in dockets at foremost was non wholly clear.

Koinange Wa Mbiya, ‘the most distinguished head of the colonial epoch, ‘ became disillusioned with the colonial government, originally a stanch conservative protagonist his positions shifted dramatically over the issue of land appropriation.[ 5 ]The land militias were decreasing and population was turning quickly, people succumbed to hunger and even famishment, which spread quickly amongst the native people. In a passionate address Koinange appealed to the colonial land committee for the return of his people ‘s ‘lost lands ‘ , his entreaty fell on decease ears, the colonial powers had another docket and his entreaty was rejected.[ 6 ]Consequently, he joined the Kikuyu Central Association ( KCA ) an administration he was antecedently vehemently opposed to. He even went every bit far as donating his ain land and giving fiscal support to the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association, successfully disputing the Christian mission ‘s monopoly of primary instruction for the kids of Kenya ; an of import factor in raising ‘free believing ‘ Kenyan ‘s free of bigotry and colonial conditioning, these freshly educated kids would travel on to fuel the rise of patriotism.[ 7 ]

The British idea that they had drawn a line under the issue, demanding conformity organize their colonial topics. However, this was merely the beginning of the job ; as the white colonist population grew and mechanization aided the efficiency of the production, less and less workers were needed ensuing in more repatriation to the militias. This was exacerbated farther by the Chieftains, with western political orientations of their ain, believing in advancement and modernness, they developed their ain aspirations for wealth and power, farther estranging the local Kikuyu population.

Beginnings of Mau Mau and creative activity of a myth

The beginnings of the Mau Mau reverse to the beliefs of the West and colonial authoritiess within Kenya were heralded on really much peaceable beginnings, this can be view in contrast to Britain ‘s greater colonial imperium peculiarly, India, the ‘jewel in the Crown ‘ , where Gandhi ‘s vision of non-violence had now seemed to offend continents ; for it was so this stance that the Rebel Mau Mau administration began. The first marks of integrating or the population to Mau Mau understandings arose, as we have seen, out of resistance of their ain self-mastery. This pick foremost entailed a rejection of the leading of many frequenters, peculiarly the heads who, as one slang newspaper article argued in January 1948, ‘should cognize that to be respected through fright is non every bit good as regard through love ‘ . Initial protests were deliberately carried out and take by educated Africans with accent on strong subject and integrity.[ 8 ]Even moral hiking vocals proclaimed, ‘we do n’t desire war we want justness ‘ . The newspaper Mumenyereri observed, ‘Africans have no arms ‘ , ‘but their arm is to talk the truth and to be honest ‘ .[ 9 ]

The United Kingdom, conversely, sought to popularize a really different reading, and mostly succeeded. This was that the problems were a little unpopular, easy governable, barbarous tribal rebellion, possibly the symptom of some signifier of mass psychosis, the consequence of the Kikuyu folk ‘s inability to get by with the modern universe.[ 10 ]The British word picture and the official colonial/western position of Mau Mau were of a barbarian, violent, and depraved tribal cult, who expressed unrestrained emotion instead than ground. It sought to turn the Kikuyu people back to ‘the bad old yearss ‘ before enlightened British regulation had brought the approvals of modern civilisation and development.[ 11 ]Government intelligence studies dwelt on the ‘insane craze ‘ and ‘fanatical subject ‘ of Mau Mau disciples.[ 12 ]It had been intentionally organized, harmonizing to the authorities, by misanthropic and unprincipled leaders, seeking merely to fulfill their ain lecherousness for power. Depraved, homicidal, and entirely evil, Mau Mau had to be wholly destroyed ; this position was backed up by taking faculty members of the clip.[ 13 ]This is non to state that a superb ‘lie ‘ was devised, but simply that one peculiar version of events ( which was possibly no further from the truth than many of the other readings ) was publicised because it cause the British less jobs when seeking to warrant their African policies to those international neighbors to whom they had to pay attentiveness, above all Americans. It blunted unfavorable judgments, smothered argument, and exonerated the British response.[ 14 ]In world, the ‘myth ‘ was more sophisticated and wider and served more touchable intent than this would propose. It must be recognised that non all was myth, and that Mau Mau was far from a ‘standard ‘ anti-colonial rebellion, if such a animal so exists.[ 15 ]

By the Mid-1960 ‘s this reading began to be challenged by a revisionist version of Mau Mau which depicted it as an indispensable, if extremist, constituent of patriotism in Kenya. First, memoirs of the Emergency by some of those active in Mau Mau began to be published, notably by J. M. Kariuki and Waruhiu Itote:[ 16 ]both who insisted that Mau Mau was a modern, rational, and nationalist political motion, non tribalist reaction. These publications set the manner for two enormously influential plants which would reshape academic sentiment ; the first, Mau Mau from Within by Karari Njama ;[ 17 ]the 2nd, the Myth of “ Mau Mau ” : Patriotism in Kenya by John Nottingham and Carl Rosberg.[ 18 ]Nottingham and Rosberg concluded that readings of Mau Mau as barbarian and throwback tribalism is capable to perforating analysis as a “ myth of the Mau Mau ” grounded in European racism and ethnocentrism.[ 19 ]

This willful propagating and demonizing antagonised an already deeper job of racial and ethnocentric societal positions. The cultural misconceptions already prelevant in the societal consciousness of Europeans were apparent with racial and barbaric attitudes shown towards Africans, it was this that the British authorities could act upon, the myth they propagated further cemented these misconceptions, the colonial disposal seeking advantage to prosecute its ain terminals at province degree. This attitude is clearly seen in a book by Christopher Wilson, Kenya ‘s Warning ; throughout the book he writes clearly engulfed by a misconceived societal consciousness. In a chapter on the Mau Mau leaders he goes on to discredit the causes of support for the Mau Mau. He tackles the legitimacy of exasperations caused by deficiency of land for cultivation, deficiency of money on history of low rewards, and denial of legitimate political claims ; siding in each instance with the colonial undertaking.[ 20 ]He demeans the purposes of the Mau Mau leaders as ‘acting in their ain involvements ‘ , ‘having no involvement in the public assistance of the multitudes ‘ , ‘deluding them with promises [ the multitudes ] ‘ . Basically the non-conformity with western thoughts is seen as backward, crude and uneducated.[ 21 ]Mau Mau protagonists were belittled by stalwarts as destitute condemnable delinquents and so, it was believed, morally ill-equipped to take political action or take part in argument: ‘When you kill your fellow work forces because of folly, I tell you that you are far from going a leader of any kind. ‘ ( Letter E. Munene to editor, 30th Jan 1954 )[ 22 ]Mau Mau forest combatants were often derided by stalwarts as ‘wild animate beings ‘ and in peculiar ‘hyenas ‘ .[ 23 ]

The British response-

In October 1952w, the new colonial decision maker took an wholly more decisive attack to the state of affairs in manus ; choosing for a more heavy handed attack and military response the Mau Mau rebellion, to be implemented instantly. A State of Emergency was declared and the British colonial authorities of Kenya waged a violent counter-insurgency run against the Mau Mau Rebels. In this attempt the government was assisted by confederates, known as stalwarts, drawn from the same communities as the insurrectionists. This created an “ ambiguity of commitments ” of which were influenced by propaganda and events on both sides of the divide ; loyalism in fact seems to hold been a merchandise of the same rational arguments that had spanned the Mau Mau insurgence itself.[ 24 ]Francis Gatheru was a stanch protagonist of the stalwart and colonial cause during the province of exigency, his concluding for standing opposed to his chap was ironically deduced for the really same grounds from which the Mau Mau sought revolution. Gatheru dismissed the thought that curses of commitment to the Mau Mau were taken by manner of ritualistic nature, and it was the menace of supernatural penalty that compelled most to plight their support to the insurrectionists. Admiting this this was a factor, but exaggerated by the British ; who propagated this demonised dark nature of the local people. Alternatively Gatheru points to the Mau Mau ‘s promise to present ‘freedom, land and every good thing we wished to hold ‘ that chiefly won over the Black Marias and heads of the local people. This suggests that contrary to the British claims that the bulk of people were oathed voluntarily. Proclaiming ‘ithaka na wiathi ‘ intending ‘self-mastery through land ‘ , it is clear that the hawkish Mau Mau leaders had utilised the primary contention that could unify the people against the colonial government.[ 25 ]What followed was in consequence a civil war, more than 90 per cent of the 13,000 officially acknowledged casualties of the anti-colonial and internecine force were Kikuyu, Embu or Meru ; most of which were killed by their fellow dwellers of Kenya ‘s Central Highlands. Gatheru now disillusioned and horrified by the struggle, saw his people no closer to ‘self-mastery ‘ , they were contending an unwinnable war ; up against the full force and technological promotion of the British Empire. What Gatheru realised as did much of the native population that ‘we are non to acquire any ware by protracting the state of affairs ‘ , ‘if we are acquiring the antonym of what the Mau Mau promised us when we were taking the curse, why so aˆ¦ should n’t we make the reverse of what we promised? ‘

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The divide was widening, the British played the indigens against one another ; in an already divided population with a immense figure of grudges and contentions it was easy to mobilise support on either side. On the loyalist side: demonising propaganda, colonial education/westernisation, Christian indoctrination, material high quality, non-violence, political terminals and even pecuniary inducement and payoffs. On the Mau Mau side: land contentions, living/working conditions, land hungriness, pay degrees, stuff divides every bit good as traditional and cultural issues all played apart. Most strikingly as the contention between the sides intensified retaliation was a clear motivation on both sides in the ambiguity of commitments. Fuelled by rules of modernization, advancement and Westernization, old moderate leaders now in control of the Mau Mau administration, looked to throw out non merely the colonial powers but besides the flunky heads, who harmonizing to them were keeping back the state and non extremist plenty in their western attitudes. These leaders utilised the grudges of the provincials, chiefly issues associating to set down appropriation, to add to the Numberss of the Mau Mau fighters/militants. Other kikuyu people saw the war as unwinnable and tended towards loyalist persuasion along with other colonists who had ‘benefited ‘ from colonial education/conditioning and Christian dogmatising ; their political attitude to the war was one of non-violence. When the force necessarily did get down propaganda farther divided the two cantonments, the freedom battle became embroiled in a battle between Kikuyu involvements and developed into a blood feud of retaliation non freedom.

Lari massacare

The Lari slaughter was the war ‘s iconographic minute. The onslaught on Lari had been carefully planned and was non every bit reported an indiscriminate act of force, the homesteads attacked had in fact been really carefully chosen. All of the victims were the households of local heads, ex-chiefs, headsmans, council members and outstanding Home Guard. What followed was non planned or strategic in any mode whatsoever, strictly an act of angered retaliation ; a 2nd slaughter took topographic point at Lari that dark. It was perpetuated by the Home Guard, subsequently joined by other elements of the security services, who took retaliation on any individuals in the location they could put their custodies on whom they suspected of Mau Mau understandings. Propaganda and spin followed the inevitable screen up, ‘mopping-up operations ‘ .[ 26 ]This calamity non merely was a accelerator for events to come but epitomised the war, Kikuyu contending Kikuyu, in kernel a civil war perpetuated by myth blazing cultural misinterpretation every bit good as outstanding racial and ethnocentric attitudes.

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Project Anvil

When morning broke on the forenoon of 24 April 1954, Nairobi ‘s citizens woke to happen their metropolis under besieging. Over the old four months an luxuriant strategy had been worked out to consistently seek the metropolis and to ‘screen ‘ every African.[ 27 ]This strict procedure left nil unturned all certification had to be present and right, with even the slightest disagreement cause for intuition. African were hustled out of their houses and herded into barbed-wire compounds, where they waited for the cogs of colonial bureaucratism to turn. A petroleum system of categorization was put in topographic point, foregrounding the racial jobs stirringly, of the Africans screened they were classified as ‘white ‘ , ‘grey ‘ or ‘black ‘ ; black used to imply danger and commitments to Mau Mau ; and white used to imply non a menace to society and to be repatriated ; foregrounding the outstanding racial attitudes of the clip. The legal footing of the showing and detainment cantonments was set up by a Delegated Detention Order, where by under the exigency jurisprudence, suspects could be detained without test merely by a signature of any officer of the rank territory officer or above. Nothing more was needed to reprobate a adult male to incarceration for two old ages or more. Intuition that adult male had taken an curse, or even that he was thought to be in understanding of the Mau Mau, was sufficient for detainment without test. Accusations made by others, such as the hooded stalwart sources ( gikunia ) used at Langata, needed no documentation ; their silent and anon. testimonies would reprobate many work forces to the detainment cantonments. The usage of seniors brought from the modesty in the showing of work forces was intended at act as a cheque against any possible victimization, but it was impossible to forestall score-settling or personal blood feuds.[ 28 ]In the mire of Operation Anvil, there were multitudes of instances of misguided individuality, and one time labelled it was extremely hard to dispute a detainment order, bureaucratic process had taken over from common sense: with these Numberss, what did it affair if one more kikuyu was detained? And if in any uncertainty, it was certainly better to confine the adult male than allow him travel? By 26 May, when Anvil eventually came to an terminal, the Numberss screened had climbed about 50,000 ; about half the entire figure Kikuyu in the metropolis and been imprisoned, by the terminal of 1954 tierce of all Kikuyu work forces were said to be in prison, these detainees had non been convicted of any offense and were all held without test.[ 29 ]Particular Branch reckoned that 700 of these were ‘hard-core ‘ Mau Mau, a measly 3 per cent of the entire detainees ; with the grounds against the bulk being nil more than reasonably little, but no 1 seemed concerned by this dismaying statistic, to occupation had been done.[ 30 ]

By late June, Morrison, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Kenya, wrote to the governor, Sir Frederick Crawford, approximately more than 60 Kikuyu Christians who had been rounded up in Operation Anvil. The trueness of these work forces was above inquiry ; yet it appeared they had been swept off into the detainment cantonments as Mau Mau suspects. Effort were made to turn up the work forces, nevertheless, Morrison studies, ‘We are informed either that individuals can non be traced, or that they must be re-screened, or that they can non return to Nairobi because they were freelance, or some other ground is given which prevents or holds release. ‘ The authorities was in danger of estranging the one group among the Kikuyu on whose support they must finally trust as a karyon for act uponing the remainder.[ 31 ]

Archdeacon Peter Bostock, of the Anglican Church, visited Langata in individual twice during the June in an attempt to place the ‘missing ‘ work forces. He was shocked and disturbed by the experience. He described the conditions as ‘grossly overcrowded ‘ and stated that the place guard were merely ‘barely in control ‘ , it seemed as is the cantonments were ‘a jurisprudence unto themselves ‘ .[ 32 ]

In January 1955 the Church of Scotland moderator in Kenya, David Steel, startled his Presbyterian fold with an ardent onslaught from the dais against the arbitrary unfeelingness of authorities policies, taking Operation Anvil as his rule instance. Steel described how the authorities had alienated Christian support through its heavy-handedness, summarily throwing the inexperienced person into detainment, where they were contaminated by the wicked, and neglecting to protect nice people from the maltreatment of those whom the authorities armed as their defenders, the Home Guard. Carelessness, an arrant neglect for the rights of Africans had resulted in many honest, observant citizens existences incarcerated during anvil. Steel besides referred to ‘more sinister forces ‘ at work ; mentioning ‘false accusals ‘ that had been ‘deliberate and calculated ‘ , to a great extent knocking the system of sources branding it ‘far from infallible ‘ and proposing that this had happened more often than the security forces were prepared to profess.[ 33 ]

The ground forces fought against Mau Mau ‘s military confusions. These were really different from those which haunted the broad myth of modernisation ; a contrast between modernization, advancement and capitalist attitudes with an eerie regard to the shared experience of war, based on scheme, regard, trueness, and baronial attitudes.[ 34 ]They rose above the outstanding racial attitudes, contending together, side by side with Africans during the war had instilled regard and honor amongst the military personnels and even the generals. General Erskine, commanding officer during the critical first portion of the war, took a simple soldierlike position of the curses which so disturbed the apprehension of most perceivers. He recognised that Mau Mau had grudges and an purpose, to chuck out Europeans. The connection between strategic terminal and nauseating agencies was crisply rational.[ 35 ]The colonial secretary, Oliver Lyttelton, was struck by a nobler similitude between forest combatant and British soldier. A veteran of the Great War, he respected work forces who, contrary to their ‘tribal repute ‘ , had ‘more than one time pressed place onslaughts against wire, and in the face of hot fire, and heavy casualties. ‘ He had asked no more of his Grenadiers. If Mau Mau heroism was explained by ‘dutch bravery aˆ¦ doped with hemp ‘ , had he non excessively, like others in this war, braced himself with rum before conflict? Such acknowledgment of equality, so contrary both to the racism which denied a common humanity and the liberalism which pitied victims, was politically of import. Even Churchill commanding officer and head himself was held to hold thought the ‘fibre, ability and steel ‘ of the Kikuyu deserved to be acknowledged by on offer of footings.[ 36 ]After 68 hours of interrogating the captured ‘General China ‘ , overseer Ian Henderson, the male childs ‘ ain hero of the colonists ‘ war, concluded that his captive was a ‘complete overzealous ‘ . Was he so mentally ill? Not at all. China had ‘a good encephalon and a singular memory. ‘ He knew why he was contending ; ‘his sole with was to elaborate his political testament before Legislative Council and walk to the gallows without test. ‘

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It took the calamity of Hola cantonment, where eleven ‘hard nucleus ‘ detainees were beaten to decease in the name of modernization, to convey the British authorities unit of ammunition to the military position. As Margery Perham put it, the difficult nucleus were determined to turn out that they ‘were non in the clasp of some remedial compulsion but prosecuting logical and irrevokable political purposes. ‘ The detainees might hold put it otherwise. The immediate issue was work and it refusal. Their instance was simple. They were political captives, non felons. To work to order would be to acknowledge to wrong. Work was a proper presentation of duty for free work forces ; under any other status it was bondage.[ 37 ]Britain could non go on to refashion Kenya by force when other European powers were abandoning efforts to reconstruct colonial regulation for the moral high land of informal imperium. A political war must be ended by political agencies. Civilization had to chance on grant and understanding, non enforced by the dictatorship of good purposes and warders ‘ nightsticks. Within months of Hola came Lancaster House and the chance of bulk regulation.[ 38 ]Merely international and metropolitan force per unit areas could oblige the United Kingdom to decolonize, and so the ‘myth of Mau Mau ‘ served the utile intent of preventing any conjunct international attempt to airt United Kingdom policy and of blunting the unfavorable judgments emanating from those states to whom the British were obliged to pay attentiveness. By disassociating the rebellion from the planetary forces of patriotism and communism, by emphasizing its violent and sturdy nature, and by invariably asseverating the easiness which it would be defeated, it succeeded in this purpose, as any reading of the United Nations ‘ records for the period will attest.[ 39 ]