Mau Mau Uprising
The Mau Mau Uprising was a military conflict that took place in Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

between 1952 and 1960. It involved a Kikuyu-dominated anti-colonial group called Mau Mau and elements of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, auxiliaries and anti-Mau Mau Kikuyu.

The movement was unable to capture widespread public support. The capture of rebel leader Dedan Kimathi
Dedan Kimathi
Dedan Kimathi Waciuri , was a Kenyan rebel leader who fought against the British colonial government in Kenya in the 1950s. He was convicted and executed in 1957 for murder and terrorism....

 on 21 October 1956 signalled the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau uprising, and essentially ended the British military campaign.

The conflict arguably set the stage for Kenyan independence in December 1963. It created a rift between the European colonial community in Kenya and the Home Office
Home Office
The Home Office is the United Kingdom government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order. As such it is responsible for the police, UK Border Agency, and the Security Service . It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs,...

 in London, but also resulted in violent divisions within the Kikuyu community.


The origin of the term Mau Mau is uncertain. According to some members of Mau Mau, they never referred to themselves as such, instead preferring the military title Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA). Some publications, such as Fred Majdalany's State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau, claim that it was an anagram of Uma Uma (which means "get out get out") and was a military codeword based on a secret language-game Kikuyu boys used to play at the time of their circumcision. Majdalany goes on to state that the British simply used the name as a label for the Kikuyu ethnic community without assigning any specific definition.

As the movement progressed, a Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 acronym was adopted: "Mzungu Aende Ulaya, Mwafrika Apate Uhuru" meaning "Let the European go back to Europe (Abroad), Let the African regain Independence". J.M. Kariuki, a member of Mau Mau who was detained during the conflict, postulates that the British preferred to use the term Mau Mau instead of KLFA in an attempt to deny the Mau Mau rebellion international legitimacy. Kariuki also wrote that the term Mau Mau was adopted by the rebellion in order to counter what they regarded as colonial propaganda.

Nature of the rebellion

The contemporary view saw Mau Mau as a savage, violent, and depraved tribal cult, an expression of unrestrained emotion rather than reason. Mau Mau allegedly sought to turn the Kikuyu people back to "the bad old days" before British rule. By the mid-1960s, this view was being challenged by memoirs of former Mau Mau members and leaders that portrayed Mau Mau as an essential, if radical, component of African nationalism in Kenya, and by academic studies that analysed Mau Mau as a modern and nationalist response to the unfairness and oppression of colonial domination (though such studies downplayed the specifically Kikuyu nature of the movement).

There continues to be vigorous debate within Kenyan society and among the academic community within and without Kenya regarding the nature of Mau Mau and its aims, as well as the response to and effects of the uprising. Nevertheless, as many Kikuyu fought against Mau Mau on the side of the colonial government as joined them in rebellion and, partly because of this, the conflict is now often regarded in academic circles as an intra-Kikuyu civil war, a characterisation that remains extremely unpopular in Kenya. Some academics argue that the reason the revolt was essentially limited to the Kikuyu people was, in part, that they were the hardest hit by British colonialism and its effects.

Wunyabari O. Maloba regards the rise of the Mau Mau movement as "without doubt, one of the most important events in recent African history." Oxford's David Anderson, however, considers Maloba's and similar work to be the product of "swallowing too readily the propaganda of the Mau Mau war", noting the similarity between such analysis and the "simplistic" earlier studies of Mau Mau. This earlier work cast the Mau Mau war in strictly bipolar terms, "as conflicts between anti-colonial nationalists and colonial collaborators". Harvard's Caroline Elkins
Caroline Elkins
Caroline Elkins is a professor of History at Harvard University. She studies the colonial encounter in Africa during the twentieth century, and the British treatment of the Kikuyu in Kenya....

' 2005 study
Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya
Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya written by Caroline Elkins, published by Henry Holt, won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. -Commentary and Criticism:...

 has met similar criticism, as well as being criticised for sensationalism.
Throughout Kikuyu history, there have been two traditions: moderate-conservative and radical. Despite the differences between them, there has been a continuous debate and dialogue between these traditions, leading to a great political awareness among the Kikuyu. By 1950, these differences, and the impact of colonial rule, had given rise to three African political blocks: conservative, moderate nationalist and militant nationalist. It has also been argued that Mau Mau was not explicitly national, either intellectually or operationally; Bruce Berman argues that, "While Mau Mau was clearly not a tribal atavism seeking a return to the past, the answer to the question of "was it nationalism?" must be yes and no." As the Mau Mau rebellion wore on, the violence forced the spectrum of opinion within the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru to polarise and harden into the two distinct camps of loyalist and Mau Mau. This neat division between loyalists and Mau Mau was a product of the conflict, rather than a cause or catalyst of it, with the violence becoming less ambiguous over time, in a similar manner to other situations.

Kenya before the Emergency

The primary British interest in Kenya was its land which, observed the British East Africa Commission of 1925, constituted "some of the richest agricultural soils in the world, mostly in districts where the elevation and climate make it possible for Europeans to reside permanently." Though declared a colony in 1920, the formal British colonial presence in Kenya began with a proclamation on 1 July 1895, in which Kenya was claimed as a British protectorate.

Even before 1895, however, Britain's presence in Kenya was marked by dispossession and violence. During the period in which Kenya's interior was being forcibly opened up for British settlement, an officer in the Imperial British East Africa Company
Imperial British East Africa Company
The Imperial British East Africa Company was the administrator of British East Africa, which was the forerunner of the East Africa Protectorate, later Kenya. The IBEAC was a commercial association founded to develop African trade in the areas controlled by the British colonial power...

 asserted, "There is only one way to improve the Wakikuyu [and] that is wipe them out; I should be only too delighted to do so, but we have to depend on them for food supplies", and colonial officers such as Richard Meinertzhagen
Richard Meinertzhagen
Colonel Richard Henry Meinertzhagen CBE DSO was a British soldier, intelligence officer and ornithologist.- Background and youth :Meinertzhagen was born into a socially connected, wealthy British family...

 wrote of how, on occasion, they massacre
A massacre is an event with a heavy death toll.Massacre may also refer to:-Entertainment:*Massacre , a DC Comics villain*Massacre , a 1932 drama film starring Richard Barthelmess*Massacre, a 1956 Western starring Dane Clark...

d Kikuyu by the hundred. This onslaught led Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, in 1908, to remark: "surely it cannot be necessary to go on killing these defenceless people on such an enormous scale."

Kenyan resistance to British imperialism was there from the start—for example, the Kikuyu opposition of 1880–1900—and continued throughout the decades thereafter: the Nandi
Nandi people
The Nandi people are a number of Kenyan tribes living in the highland areas of the Nandi Hills in Rift Valley Province who speak the Nandi languages. They are a sub-group of the Kalenjin people....

 Revolt of 1895–1905; the Giriama Uprising of 1913–4; the women's revolt against forced labour in Murang'a
Murang'a is a town in Central Province of Kenya. The town was previously called Fort Hall. It is the administrative centre of Murang'a District and is mainly inhabited by the Kikuyu community....

 in 1947; and the Kalloa Affray of 1950. (Nor did Kenyan protest against colonial rule end with Mau Mau. For example, in the years that followed, a series of successful non-violent boycotts were carried out).

The Mau Mau rebellion can be regarded as a militant culmination of years of oppressive colonial rule and resistance to it, with its specific roots found in three episodes of Kikuyu history between 1920 and 1940. All of this is not, of course, to say that Kikuyu society was perfect, stable and harmonious before the British arrived. The Kikuyu in the nineteenth century were expanding and colonising new territory and already internally divided between wealthy land-owning families and landless families, the latter dependent on the former in a variety of ways.

Economic deprivation of the Kikuyu

A feature of all settler societies during the colonial period was the ability of European settlers to obtain for themselves a disproportionate share in landownership. Kenya was thus no exception, with the first white settlers arriving in 1902 as part of Governor Sir Charles Eliot
Charles Eliot (diplomat)
Sir Charles Norton Edgecumbe Eliot GCMG, PC was a British knight diplomat, colonial administrator and botanist. He served as Commissioner of British East Africa in 1900-1904. He was British Ambassador to Japan in 1919-1925.He was also known as a malacologist and marine biologist...

's plan to have a settler economy pay for the recently completed Uganda Railway
Uganda Railway
The Uganda Railway is a railway system and former railway company linking the interiors of Uganda and Kenya with the Indian Ocean at Mombasa in Kenya.-Origins:...

. The success of Eliot's planned settler economy would depend heavily on the availability of land, labour and capital, and so, over the next three decades, the colonial government and settlers consolidated their control over Kenyan land, and 'encouraged' Africans to become wage labourers.

Through a series of expropriations, the colony's government seized about 7000000 acre (28,328 km²; 10,937.5 sq mi) of land, some of it in the especially fertile hilly-regions of Central and Rift Valley Provinces, areas later known as the White Highlands due to the exclusively-European farmland which existed there. "In particular," the British government's 1925 East Africa Commission noted, "the treatment of the Giriama tribe [from the coastal regions] was very bad. This tribe was moved backwards and forwards so as to secure for the Crown areas which could be granted to Europeans." Coupled with an increasing African population, the land expropriation became an increasingly bitter point of contention. The Kikuyu, who lived in the Kiambu
Kiambu District
Kiambu District is an administrative district in the Central Province of Kenya. Its capital town is Kiambu. The district is adjacent to the northern border of Nairobi and has a population of 744,010....

, Nyeri
Nyeri District
Nyeri District is a district in the Central Province of Kenya. Its headquarters is in Nyeri town. It has a population of 661,156 and an area of 3,356 km².The district is located on the southwest flank of Mount Kenya...

 and Murang'a
Muranga District
Murang'a is one of the districts of Kenya's Central Province. Its capital town is also now named Murang'a but was called Fort Hall in colonial times . It is inhabited mainly by and is considered the home of the Kikuyu, the largest community in Kenya. The district has a population of 942,581...

 districts of Central Province, were the ethnic group most affected by the colonial government's land expropriation and European settlement; by 1933, they had had over 109.5 square miles (283.6 km²) of their potentially highly valuable land alienated. The Kikuyu did mount a legal challenge to the expropriation of their land, but a Kenya High Court decision of 1921 cemented its legality.

As mentioned, the colonial government and White farmers also wanted cheap labour which, for a period, the government acquired from Africans through force. Confiscating land from Africans itself helped to create a pool of wage labour
Wage labour
Wage labour is the socioeconomic relationship between a worker and an employer, where the worker sells their labour under a formal or informal employment contract. These transactions usually occur in a labour market where wages are market determined...

ers, but the colony introduced measures that forced more Africans to submit to wage labour: the introduction of the Hut and Poll Taxes (1901 and 1910 respectively); the establishment of reserves for each ethnic group, serving to isolate each ethnic group and exacerbate overcrowding; the discouragement of African's growing cash crops; the Masters and Servants Ordinance (1906) and an identification pass known as the kipande (1918) to control the movement of labour and to curb desertion; and the exemption of wage labourers from forced labour and other compulsory, detested tasks such as conscription.

African labourers were in one of three categories: squatter, contract, or casual. By the end of WWI, squatters had become well established on European farms and plantations in Kenya, with Kikuyu squatters comprising the majority of agricultural workers on settler plantations. An unintended consequence of colonial rule, the squatters were targeted from 1918 onwards by a series of Resident Native Labourers Ordinances—criticised by at least some MPs
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

—which progressively curtailed squatter rights and subordinated African farming to that of the settlers. The Ordinance of 1939 finally eliminated squatters' remaining tenancy rights, and permitted settlers to demand 270 days' labour from any squatters on their land. and, after WWII, the situation for squatters deteriorated rapidly, a situation the squatters resisted fiercely.

In the early 1920s, though, despite the presence of 100,000 squatters and tens of thousands more wage labourers, there was still not enough African labour available to satisfy the settlers' needs. The colonial government duly tightened the measures to force yet more Kenyans to become low-paid wage-labourers on settler farms.

The colonial government used the measures brought in as part of its land expropriation and labour 'encouragement' efforts to craft the third plank of its growth strategy for its settler economy: subordinating African farming to that of the Europeans. Nairobi also assisted the settlers with rail and road networks, subsidies on freight charges, agricultural and veterinary services, and credit and loan facilities. The near-total neglect of African farming during the first two decades of European settlement was noted by the East Africa Commission.

The hatred toward colonial rule was hardly stemmed by the wanting provision of medical services for Africans, nor by the fact that in 1923, for example, "the maximum amount that could be considered to have been spent on services provided exclusively for the benefit of the native population was slightly over one-quarter of the taxes paid by them". The tax burden on Europeans in the early 1920s, meanwhile, was "absurdly" light.

Kenyan employees were often appallingly treated by their European employers—sometimes even beaten to death by them—with some settlers arguing that Africans "were as children and should be treated as such". Amongst other offences, it was widely acknowledged that few settlers hesitated to flog their servants for petty offences. To make matters even worse, African workers were poorly served by colonial labour-legislation and a prejudiced legal-system. The vast majority of Kenyan employees' violations of labour legislation were settled with "rough justice" meted out by their employers. Most colonial magistrates appear to have been unconcerned by the illegal practice of settler-administered flogging; indeed, during the 1920s, flogging was the magisterial punishment-of-choice for African convicts. The principle of punitive sanctions against workers was not removed from the Kenyan labour statutes until the 1950s.

Until the mid-1930s, the two primary complaints were low African wages and the kipande. From the early 1930s, however, two others began to come to prominence: effective and elected African-political-representation, and land. The British response to this clamour for agrarian reform
Agrarian reform
Agrarian reform can refer either, narrowly, to government-initiated or government-backed redistribution of agricultural land or, broadly, to an overall redirection of the agrarian system of the country, which often includes land reform measures. Agrarian reform can include credit measures,...

 came in the early 1930s when they set up the Morris-Carter Land Commission. The Commission reported in 1934, but its conclusions, recommendations and concessions to Kenyans were so conservative that any chance of a peaceful resolution to African land-hunger was ended. In Nyanza, for example, the Commission restricted 1,029,422 Africans to 7114 square miles (18,425.2 km²), while granting 16700 square miles (43,252.8 km²) to 17,000 Europeans. By the 1930s, and for the Kikuyu in particular, land had become the number one grievance concerning colonial rule, the situation so acute by 1948 that 1,250,000 Kikuyu had ownership of 2,000 square miles (5,200 km²), while 30,000 British settlers owned 12,000 square miles (31,000 km²).

As a result of the situation in the highlands, thousands of Kikuyu migrated into cities in search of work, contributing to the doubling of Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

's population between 1938 and 1952. At the same time, there was a small, but growing, class of Kikuyu landowners who consolidated Kikuyu lands and forged strong ties with the colonial administration, leading to an economic rift within the Kikuyu.

Around 1943, residents of Olenguruone radicalised the traditional Kikuyu practice of oathing, and extended oathing to women and children.

African politics

The first attempt to form a countrywide political party occurred on 1 October 1944. This fledgling organisation was called the Kenya African Study Union (so named to mask its anti-colonial politics); its inaugural chairman was Harry Thuku, who soon resigned his chairmanship. There is dispute over Thuku's reason for leaving KASU: Bethwell Ogot states that Thuku "found the responsibility too heavy"; David Anderson states that "he walked out in disgust" as the militant section of KASU took the initiative. KASU changed its name to the KAU in 1946.

By the late 1940s the Kikuyu were a deeply divided people, increasingly in conflict among themselves as well as with the colonial political and economic order.

The failure of the KAU to attain any significant reforms or redress of grievances from the colonial authorities shifted the political initiative to younger and more militant figures within the African trade union movement, among the squatters on the settler estates in the Rift Valley and in KAU branches in Nairobi and the Kikuyu districts of central province.
In May 1951, the British Colonial Secretary
Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies....

, James Griffiths
Jim Griffiths
James "Jim" Griffiths CH , was a Welsh Labour politician, trade union leader and the first ever Secretary of State for Wales.-Background and education:...

, visited Kenya, where the Kenya African Union
Kenya African Union
Kenya African Union was a political organization formed in 1944to articulate Kenyan grievances against the British colonial administration of the time...

 (KAU) presented him with a list of demands ranging from the removal of alleged discriminatory legislation to the inclusion of 12 elected black representatives on the Legislative Council that governed the colony's affairs. Griffith proposed a Legislative Council in which the 30,000 white settlers received 14 representatives, the 100,000 Asians (mostly from South Asia) got six, the 24,000 Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s one, and the 5,000,000 Africans five representatives to be nominated by the government.

British reaction to the uprising

Sir Philip Mitchell
Philip Euen Mitchell
Sir Philip Euen Mitchell was a British Colonial administrator who served as Governor of Uganda , Governor of Fiji and Governor of Kenya .-Birth and education:...

 retired as Kenya's governor in summer 1952, having turned a blind eye to Mau Mau's increasing activity. Through the summer of 1952, however, Colonial Secretary Oliver Lyttelton
Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos
Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos KG, PC, DSO, MC was a British businessman who was brought into government during the Second World War, holding a number of ministerial posts.-Background, education and military career:...

 in London received a steady flow of reports from Acting Governor Henry Potter about the escalating seriousness of Mau Mau violence, but it was not until the later part of 1953 that British politicians began to accept that the rebellion was going to take some time to deal with. At first, the British discounted the Mau Mau rebellion because of their own technical and military superiority, which encouraged hopes for a quick victory. The British army accepted the gravity of the uprising months before the politicians, but the army's appeals to London and Nairobi initially fell on deaf ears. On 30 September 1952, Sir Evelyn Baring
Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale
Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale, KG, GCMG, KCVO was Governor of Southern Rhodesia from 1942 to 1944 and Governor of Kenya from 1952 to 1959....

 arrived in Kenya to permanently take over from Potter; Baring was given no warning by Mitchell or the Colonial Office about the gathering maelstrom into which he was stepping. On 3 October, Mau Mau probably claimed their first European victim when they stabbed a woman to death near her home in Thika. A week later, on 9 October, Senior Chief Waruhiu had been shot to death in broad daylight in his car. Waruhiu had been one of the strongest supporters of the British presence in Kenya, and had profited accordingly. His assassination gave Baring the final impetus to request permission from the Colonial Office to declare a State of Emergency (see below).

Aside from military operations against Mau Mau fighters in the forests, the British attempt to defeat the movement broadly came in two stages: the first, relatively limited in scope, came during the period in which they had still failed to accept the seriousness of the revolt; the second came afterwards. During the first stage, the British tried to decapitate the movement by declaring a State of Emergency before arresting 180 alleged Mau Mau leaders (see Operation Jock Scott below) and subjecting six of them to a show trial
Show trial
The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

 (the Kapenguria Six
Kapenguria Six
The Kapenguria Six - Bildad Kaggia, Kung'u Karumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, and Achieng' Oneko - were six leading Kenyan nationalists who were arrested in 1952, tried at Kapenguria in 1952-3, and imprisoned thereafter in Northern Kenya....

); the second stage began in earnest in 1954, when they undertook a series of major economic, military and penal initiatives. The second stage had three main planks: a large military-sweep of Nairobi leading to the internment of tens of thousands of the city's suspected Mau Mau members and sympathisers (see Operation Anvil below); the enaction of major agrarian reform (the Swynnerton Plan); and the institution of a vast villagisation programme
Villagization is the resettlement of people into designated villages by government or military authorities....

 for more than a million rural Kikuyu (see below).

State of Emergency declared

On 20 October 1952, Governor Baring signed an order declaring a State of Emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

. Early the next morning, Operation Jock Scott was launched: the British carried out a mass-arrest of Jomo Kenyatta
Jomo Kenyatta
Jomo Kenyattapron.] served as the first Prime Minister and President of Kenya. He is considered the founding father of the Kenyan nation....

 and 180 other alleged Mau Mau leaders within Nairobi. Jock Scott did not decapitate the movement's leadership as hoped: news of the operation was leaked. Thus, while the moderates on the wanted list awaited capture, the real militants, such as Dedan Kimathi and Stanley Mathenge (both later principal leaders of Mau Mau's forest armies), fled to the forests. The day after the round up, another prominent loyalist chief, Nderi, was hacked to pieces, and a series of gruesome murders against settlers were committed throughout the months that followed. The violent and random nature of British tactics during the months after Jock Scott served merely to alienate ordinary Kikuyu and drive many of the wavering Kikuyu majority into Mau Mau's arms.

Three battalions of the King's African Rifles were recalled from Uganda, Tanganyika and Mauritius, giving the regiment five battalions in all in Kenya, a total of 3,000 African troops. To placate settler opinion, one battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 of British troops, from the Lancashire Fusiliers
Lancashire Fusiliers
The Lancashire Fusiliers was a British infantry regiment that was amalgamated with other Fusilier regiments in 1968 to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.- Formation and early history:...

, was also flown in from the Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 to Nairobi on the first day of Operation Jock Scott.

In November 1952, Baring requested assistance from the Security Service
The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

. For the next year, the Service's A.M. MacDonald would reorganise the Special Branch of the Kenya Police, promote collaboration with Special Branches in adjacent territories, and oversee coordination of all intelligence activity "to secure the intelligence Government requires".

In January 1953, six of the most prominent detainees from Jock Scott, including Kenyatta, were put on trial, primarily to justify the declaration of the Emergency to critics in London. The trial itself was claimed to have featured a suborned lead defence-witness, a bribed judge, and other serious violations of the right to a fair trial
Right to a fair trial
The right to fair trial is an essential right in all countries respecting the rule of law. A trial in these countries that is deemed unfair will typically be restarted, or its verdict voided....


African political activity was permitted to resume at the end of the military phase of the Emergency.

Military Operations

Militarily, the British defeated Mau Mau in four years (1952–6). The onset of the Emergency led hundreds, and eventually thousands, of Mau Mau adherents to flee to the forests, where a decentralised leadership had already begun setting up platoons. The primary zones of Mau Mau military strength were the Aberdares and the forests around Mount Kenya, whilst a passive support-wing was fostered outside these areas. In June 1953, General Sir George Erskine
George Erskine
General Sir George Watkin Eben James Erskine GCB, KBE, DSO was a senior British Army officer during World War II-Background:...

 arrived and took up the post of Director of Operations, where he revitalised the British effort. His predecessor, Sir Alexander Cameron
Alexander Cameron (British Army officer)
Lieutenant General Sir Alexander Maurice Cameron KBE CB MC was General Officer Commanding East Africa Command.-Military career:Cameron was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1916...

, became his Second in Command. In late 1953, security forces swept the Aberdare forest in Operation Blitz and captured and killed 125 guerrillas.

Operation Anvil

By 1954, Nairobi was regarded as the nerve centre of Mau Mau operations. A major British military action came on 24 April 1954: Operation Anvil. Anvil was an ambitious attempt by British military forces to eliminate Mau Mau's presence within Nairobi in one fell swoop. 25,000 members of British security forces under the control of General Sir George Erskine were deployed as Nairobi was sealed off and underwent a sector-by-sector purge. All Africans were taken to temporary barbed-wire enclosures, whereafter those who were not Kikuyu, Embu or Meru were released; Kikuyu, Embu and Meru remained in detention for screening. Whilst the operation itself was conducted by Europeans, most suspected members of Mau Mau were picked out of groups of the Kikuyu-Embu-Meru detainees by an African informer. Male suspects were then taken off for further screening, primarily at Langata Screening Camp, whilst women and children were readied for 'repatriation' to the reserves (many of those slated for deportation had never set foot in the reserves before). Anvil lasted for two weeks, after which the capital had been cleared of all but certifiably-loyal Kikuyu; 20,000 Mau Mau suspects had been taken to Langata, and 30,000 more had been deported to the reserves.

The Swynnerton Plan

Already overcrowded, Baring knew the massive deportations to the reserves could only make things worse. Refusing to give more land to the Kikuyu in the reserves, which could be seen as a concession to Mau Mau, Baring turned instead in 1953 to Roger Swynnerton, Kenya's assistant director of agriculture. The projected costs of the Swynnerton Plan were too high for the cash-strapped colonial government, so Baring tweaked repatriation and augmented the Swynnerton Plan with plans for a massive expansion of the Pipeline coupled with a system of works camps to make use of detainee labour. All Kikuyu employed for public works projects would now be employed on Swynnerton's poor-relief programmes, as would many detainees in the works camps.

A variety of persuasive techniques were initiated by the colonial authorities to punish and break Mau Mau's support: Baring ordered punitive communal-labour, collective fines and other collective punishments, and further confiscation of land and property. By early 1954, tens of thousands livestock had been taken, and were allegedly never returned.

Detention programme

When the mass deportations of Kikuyu to the reserves began in 1953, Baring and Erskine ordered all Mau Mau suspects to be screened. Of the scores of screening camps which sprang up, only fifteen were officially sanctioned by the colonial government. Larger detention camps were divided into compounds. The screening centres were staffed by settlers who were appointed temporary district-officers by Baring for their task.
Thomas Askwith, the official tasked with designing the British 'detention and rehabilitation' programme during the summer and autumn of 1953, termed his system the Pipeline. The British did not initially conceive of rehabilitating Mau Mau suspects through brute force and other ill-treatment—rather, Askwith's final plan, submitted to Baring in October 1953, was "a complete blueprint for winning the war against Mau Mau using socioeconomic and civic reform." What developed, however, has been described as a British gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...


The Pipeline operated a white-grey-black classification system: 'whites' were cooperative detainees, and were repatriated back to the reserves; 'greys' had been oathed but were reasonably compliant, and were moved down the Pipeline to works camps in their local districts before release; and 'blacks' were the so-called 'hard core' of Mau Mau. These were moved up the Pipeline to special detention camps. Thus a detainee's position in Pipeline was a straightforward reflection of how cooperative the Pipeline personnel deemed her or him to be. Cooperation was itself defined in terms of a detainee's readiness to confess their Mau Mau oath. Detainees were screened and re-screened for confessions and intelligence, then re-classified accordingly.

A detainee's journey between two locations along the Pipeline could sometimes last days. During transit, there was frequently little or no food and water provided, and seldom any sanitation. Once in camp, talking was forbidden outside the detainees' accommodation huts, though improvised communication was rife. Such communication included propaganda and disinformation, which went by such names as the Kinongo Times, designed to encourage fellow detainees not to give up hope and so to minimise the number of those who confessed their oath and cooperated with camp authorities. Forced labour was performed by detainees on projects like the thirty-seven-mile-long South Yatta irrigation furrow. Family outside and other considerations led many detainees to confess.

During the first year after Operation Anvil, colonial authorities had little success in forcing detainees to cooperate. Camps and compounds were overcrowded, forced-labour systems were not yet perfected, screening teams were not fully coordinated, and the use of torture was not yet systematised. This failure was partly due to the lack of manpower and resources, as well as the vast numbers of detainees. Officials could scarcely process them all, let alone get them to confess their oaths. Assessing the situation in the summer of 1955, Alan Lennox-Boyd wrote of his "fear that the net figure of detainees may still be rising. If so the outlook is grim." Black markets flourished during this period, with the African guards helping to facilitate trading. It was possible for detainees to bribe guards in order to obtain items or stay punishment.

By late 1955, however, the Pipeline had become a fully operational, well-organised system. Guards where regularly shifted around the Pipeline too in order to prevent relationships developing with detainees and so undercut the black markets, and inducements and punishments became better at discouraging fraternising with the enemy. The grinding nature of the improved detention and interrogation regimen began to produce results. Most detainees confessed, and the system produced ever greater numbers of spies and informers within the camps, and others switched sides in a more open, official fashion, leaving detention behind to take an active role in interrogations, even sometimes administering beatings. The most famous example of side-switching was Peter Muigai Kenyatta—Jomo Kenyatta's son—who, after confessing, joined screeners at Athi River Camp, later travelling throughout the Pipeline to assist in interrogations. Suspected informers and spies within a camp were treated in the time-honoured Mau Mau-fashion: the preferred method of cold-blooded murder was strangulation then mutilation: "It was just like in the days before our detention", explained one Mau Mau member later. "We did not have our own jails to hold an informant in, so we would strangle him and then cut his tongue out." The end of 1955 also saw screeners being given a freer hand in interrogation, and harsher conditions than straightforward confession were imposed on detainees before they were described as 'cooperative' and eligible for final release.

While oathing, for practical reasons, within the Pipeline was reduced to an absolute minimum, as many new initiates as possible were oathed. A newcomer who refused to take the oath often faced the same fate as a recalcitrant outside the camps: they were murdered. "The detainees would strangle them with their blankets or, using blades fashioned from the corrugated-iron roofs of some of the barracks, would slit their throats", writes Elkins. Camp authorities preferred method of capital punishment was public hanging. Commandants were told to clamp down hard on intra-camp oathing, with several commandants hanging anyone suspected of administering oaths.

Even as the Pipeline became more sophisticated, detainees still organised themselves within it, setting up committees and selecting leaders for their camps, as well as deciding on their own "rules to live by". Perhaps the most famous compound leader was Josiah Mwangi Kariuki
Josiah Mwangi Kariuki
Josiah Mwangi Kariuki was a Kenyan socialist politician during the administration of the Jomo Kenyatta government. He held different government positions from 1963, when Kenya became an independent country, to 1975, when he was assassinated. He left behind three wives and many children.-Early...

. Punishments for violating the "rules to live by" could be severe.

European missionaries and African Christians played their part by visiting camps to evangelise and encourage compliance with the colonial authorities, providing intelligence, and sometimes even assisting in interrogation. Detainees regarded such preachers with nothing but contempt.

Sanitation in the camps was often appalling, and epidemics of diseases like typhoid swept through them. Official medical reports detailing the shortcomings of the camps and their recommendations were ignored, and the conditions being endured by detainees were lied about and denied. A British rehabilitation officer found in 1954 that detainees from Manyani were in "shocking health", many of them suffering from malnutrition, while Langata and GilGil were eventually closed in April 1955 because, as the colonial government put it, "they were unfit to hold Kikuyu. . . . for medical epidemiological reasons".

While the Pipeline was primarily designed for adult males, a few thousand women and young girls were detained at an all-women camp at Kamiti, as well as a number of unaccompanied young children. Dozens of babies were born women in captivity: "We really do need cloths for the children as it is impossible to keep them clean and tidy while dressed on dirty pieces of sacking and blanket", wrote one colonial officer. Wamumu Camp was set up solely for all the unaccompanied boys in the Pipeline, though hundreds, maybe thousands, of boys moved around the adult parts of the Pipeline.

Works camps

There were originally two types of works camps envisioned by Baring: the first type were based in Kikuyu districts with the stated purpose of achieving the Swynnerton Plan; the second were punitive camps, designed for the 30,000 Mau Mau suspects who were deemed unfit to return to the reserves. These forced-labour camps provided a much needed source of labour to continue the colony's infrastructure development. Colonial officers also saw the second sort of works camps as a way of ensuring that any confession was legitimate and as a final opportunity to extract intelligence. Probably the worst works camp to have been sent to was the one run out of Embakasi Prison, for Embakasi was responsible for the airport
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
-Charter airlines:-Cargo airlines:-Other facilities:The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has its head office in the KAA Complex on the airport property. African Express Airways has its head office on the airport property...

, the construction of which was demanded to be finished before the Emergency came to an end. The airport was a massive project with an unquenchable thirst for labour, and the time pressures ensured the detainees' forced labour was especially hard.

Villagisation programme

In June 1954, the War Council took the decision to undertake a full-scale forced-resettlement programme of Kiambu, Nyeri, Murang'a and Embu Districts to cut off Mau Mau's supply lines. Within eighteen months, 1,050,899 Kikuyu in the reserves were inside 804 villages consisting of some 230,000 huts. The government termed them "protected villages", purportedly to be built along "the same lines as the villages in the North of England". While some of these villages were to protect loyalist Kikuyu, "most were little more than concentration camps to punish Mau Mau sympathizers." The villagisation programme was the coup de grâce
Coup de grâce
The expression coup de grâce means a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature. The phrase can refer to the killing of civilians or soldiers, friends or enemies, with or without the consent of the sufferer...

for Mau Mau: by late 1955, Lieutenant General G.L. Lathbury felt so sure of final victory that he reduced army forces to almost pre-Mau Mau levels.

The government's public relations officer, Granville Roberts, presented villagisation as a good opportunity for rehabilitation, particularly of women and children, but it was, in fact, first and foremost designed to break Mau Mau and protect loyalist Kikuyu, a fact reflected in the extremely limited resources made available to the Rehabilitation and Community Development Department. It also solved the practical and financial problems associated with a further, massive expansion of the Pipeline programme. The removal of people from their land through villagisation hugely assisted the enaction of Swynnerton Plan.

The villages were surrounded by deep, spike-bottomed trenches and barbed wire, and the villagers themselves were watched over by members of the Home Guard, often neighbours and relatives. In short, rewards or collective punishments such as curfews could be served much more readily after villagisation, and this quickly had an impact on breaking Mau Mau's passive wing. Though there were degrees of difference between the villages, the overall conditions engendered by villagisation meant that, by early 1955, districts began reporting starvation and malnutrition. One provincial commissioner blamed child hunger on parents deliberating withholding food, saying the latter were aware of the "propaganda value of apparent malnutrition".The Red Cross helped mitigate the food shortages, but even they were told to prioritise loyalist areas. The Baring government's medical department issued reports about "the alarming number of deaths occurring amongst children in the 'punitive' villages", and the "political" prioritisation of Red Cross relief. One of the colony's ministers blamed the "bad spots" in Central Province on the mothers of the children for "not realis[ing] the great importance of proteins", and one former missionary reported that it "was terribly pitiful how many of the children and the older Kikuyu were dying. They were so emaciated and so very susceptible to any kind of disease that came along". Of the 50,000 deaths which John Blacker attributed to the Emergency, half would be children under the age of ten.

The lack of food did not just affect the children, of course. The Overseas Branch of the British Red Cross commented on the "women who, from progressive undernourishment, had been unable to carry on with their work".

Disease prevention was not helped by the colony's policy of returning sick detainees to receive treatment in the reserves, though the reserves' medical services were virtually non-existent, as Baring himeslf noted after a tour of some villages in June 1956.

Political and social concessions by the British

Kenyans were granted nearly all of the demands made by the KAU in 1951.

On 18 January 1955, the Governor-General of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring, offered an amnesty to Mau Mau activists. The offer was that they would not face the death penalty, but may still be imprisoned for their crimes. European settlers were appalled at the leniency of the offer. On 10 June 1955 with no response forthcoming, the offer of amnesty to the Mau Mau was revoked.

In June 1956, a program of land reform increased the land holdings of the Kikuyu.. This was coupled with a relaxation of the ban on Africans growing coffee, a primary cash crop.

In the cities the colonial authorities decided to dispel tensions by raising urban wages, thereby strengthening the hand of moderate union organisations like the KFRTU. By 1956, the British had granted direct election of African members of the Legislative Assembly, followed shortly thereafter by an increase in the number of African seats to fourteen. A Parliamentary conference in January 1960 indicated that the British would accept "one person – one vote" majority rule.


At least 1,800 African civilians along with 200 British soldiers and policemen and 32 European settlers were killed by the Mau Mau. The colonial government believed the number of Kenyans killed from all instances to be 11,503, but David Anderson believes that the true figure is likely more than 20,000. Elkins claims it is as high as 70,000 or that they could be in the hundreds of thousands. Elkins' numbers, however, have been solidly rebutted by the British demographer John Blacker, in an article in African Affairs
African Affairs
African Affairs is a peer-reviewed academic journal published quarterly by Oxford University Press on behalf of the London-based Royal African Society. The journal covers any Africa-related topic: political, social, economic, environmental and historical...

, in which he demonstrated in detail that Elkins' numbers were over-estimated and that the total number of African deaths was around 50,000. Blacker's article deals directly with Elkins' claim that up to 300,000 Kikuyu were "unaccounted for" at the 1962 census, judged by comparative population growth rates for other ethnic groups since the previous 1958 census. Of particular note is the number of hangings authorised by the colonial courts: by the end of the Emergency, the grand total was 1,090. At no other time or place in the British empire was capital punishment used so liberally—the total is more than double the number executed by the French in Algeria.


Atrocities were inflicted by all sides.

Mau Mau militants were guilty of widespread atrocities. At Lari, on the night of 25–26 March 1953, Mau Mau forces herded 120 Kikuyu into huts and set fire to them, killing any who attempted to escape. Kikuyu were also tortured, mutilated and murdered by Mau Mau in large numbers.

A British officer describes his actions after capturing three known Mau Mau:
I stuck my revolver right in his grinning mouth and I said something, I don't remember what, and I pulled the trigger. His brains went all over the side of the police station. The other two Mickeys [Mau Mau] were standing there looking blank. I said to them that if they didn't tell me where to find the rest of the gang I'd kill them too. They didn't say a word so I shot them both. One wasn't dead so I shot him in the ear. When the sub-inspector drove up, I told him that the Mickeys tried to escape. He didn't believe me but all he said was 'bury them and see the wall is cleared up.'
Settler groups, displeased with the government's response to the increasing Mau Mau threat created their own units to combat the Mau Mau. One settler with the Kenya Police Reserve's Special Branch described an interrogation of a Mau Mau, suspected of murder, which he assisted: "By the time I cut his balls off he had no ears, and his eyeball, the right one, I think, was hanging out of its socket. Too bad, he died before we got much out of him."

As many as 150,000 Kikuyu were screened by the British and Kenyan authorities.
As noted above, screening was a major source of human rights violations and caused great resentment.
After the discovery of the Lari massacre (between 10 pm and dawn that night), colonial security services retaliated on Kikuyu suspected of being Mau Mau. These were shot, and later denied burial. There is also evidence that these reprisal shootings continued for several days. (See the reports of 21 and 27 men killed on 3 and 4 April, respectively.)

Thirty-two British civilians were murdered by Mau Mau militants. The most well known Mau Mau victim was Michael Ruck, aged six, who was murdered along with his parents. Newspapers in Kenya and abroad published graphic murder details, including images of young Michael with bloodied teddy bears and trains strewn on his bedroom floor.

In 1952 the poisonous latex
Latex is the stable dispersion of polymer microparticles in an aqueous medium. Latexes may be natural or synthetic.Latex as found in nature is a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants . It is a complex emulsion consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins,...

 of the African milk bush
Euphorbia grantii
Euphorbia grantii is a species of succulent plant in the Euphorbiaceae family. The specific epithet is in honor of explorer James Augustus Grant. It was originally described by Daniel Oliver in 1875. The plant has the common name of African milk bush...

 was used by members of Mau Mau to kill herds of cattle in an incident of biological warfare
Biological warfare
Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...



Though Mau Mau was effectively crushed by 1956, it was not until the First Lancaster House Conference
Lancaster House Conferences (Kenya)
The Lancaster House conferences were three meetings in which Kenya's constitutional framework and independence were negotiated.*The first conference was under the chairmanship of Secretary of State for the Colonies Ian Macleod in 1960...

, in January 1960, that African majority rule was established and the period of colonial transition to independence initiated. Before the conference, it was anticipated by both African and European leaders that Kenya was set for a European-dominated multi-racial government.

There is continuing debate about Mau Mau's and the rebellion's effects on decolonisation and on Kenya after independence. Regarding decolonisation, the most common view is that Kenya's independence came about as a result of the British government's deciding that a continuance of colonial rule would entail a greater use of force than that which the British public would tolerate. Another view downplays the contribution of Mau Mau to decolonisation, while others contend that as the 1950s progressed, nationalist intransigence increasingly rendered official plans for political development irrelevant, meaning that after the mid-1950s British policy increasingly accepted African nationalism and moved to co-opt its leaders and organisations into collaboration.

Link to Barack Obama

Sarah Obama, President Barack Obama's grandfather's wife told him that her husband was imprisoned for six months and tortured before being tried in a British court. The records of the trial were not kept as colonial documents older than six years were destroyed by the British. Based on the account contained within his memoirs, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

suggested that his antipathy to British colonialism may be increased due this. Several prominent media organisations suggest that the return of a bust of Winston Churchill from the White House by Barack Obama, loaned by the British government to his predecessor, is related to his grandfather's mistreatment.

Compensation claims

Several former Mau Mau have attempted to sue for compensation from the British government, and their lawyers have documented about 6,000 cases of human rights abuses. The British government has stated that the issue was the responsibility of the Kenyan government, on the grounds of "state succession"
Succession of states
Succession of states is a theory and practice in international relations regarding the recognition and acceptance of a newly created sovereign state by other states, based on a perceived historical relationship the new state has with a prior state...

 for former colonies. Around 12,000 Kenyans had sought compensation. In July 2011, a British judge ruled that the Kenyans could sue the Foreign Office for their alleged torture. Explaining his decision, Mr Justice McCombe said the claimants had an "arguable case" and it would be "dishonourable" to block the action.

Discovery of 'missing' documents

In 2011, papers documenting the suppression of the Mau Mau revolt, and which had been 'missing' for fifty years, were uncovered in connection with the above-mentioned legal case. In 2006, lawyers for Leigh Day, the legal firm representing the Kenyan litigants, submitted a Freedom of Information
Freedom of information in the United Kingdom
Freedom of information legislation in the United Kingdom is controlled by two Acts of the United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments respectively, which both came into force on 1 January 2005.* Freedom of Information Act 2000...

 (FoI) request for "a final tranche of documents relating to the suppression of the Mau Mau held by the Public Record Office" that the government was "refusing to release"; the FCO response explicitly denied the existence of missing files, stating that all information they had held had been transferred to The National Archives.
  • might embarrass HMG or other Governments;
  • might embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others eg police informers;
  • might compromise sources of intelligence information; or
  • might be used unethically by Ministers in the successor Government

In addition "There would be little object in handing over documents which would patently be of no value to the successor Government". A great many documents were destroyed on this basis, but others were returned to the UK. These became the so-called 'migrated archives', eventually totalling around 8,800 files.}} (The Treasury Solicitors' response to Leigh Day went even further by stating that not only were all relevant documents with The National Archives but that they were also in the public domain). It was only the persistence of a handful of FCO officials, notably Edward Inglett, and a witness statement by Professor David Anderson in December 2010 alleging "systematic withholding by HMG of 1500 files in 300 boxes taking up 100 linear feet", that eventually resulted in their coming to light in January 2011. It is not the first time a UK government department has systematically withheld files regarding British crimes during the Emergency—and not the first time that Professor Anderson has been involved in challenging it.

Upon their discovery, Foreign Secretary William Hague
William Hague
William Jefferson Hague is the British Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State. He served as Leader of the Conservative Party from June 1997 to September 2001...

 requested Anthony Cary, a former British High Commissioner to Canada, to conduct an internal review into why the documents, known as migrated archives, had not been spotlighted by the FoI requests. In a highly sympathetic report the next month, Cary nonetheless judged that despite the involvement of relatively junior staff who had been genuinely ignorant about the contents of the files, there had been more knowledgeable staff who were perfectly aware of the documents' importance but who had chosen not to share their widsom. "It was perhaps convenient to [think] that the migrated archives. . . . did not need to be consulted for the purposes of FOI requests, while also being conscious of the files as a sort of guilty secret, of uncertain status and in the 'too difficult' tray", Cary concluded. After making Cary's report public in May 2011, Hague declared his "intention to release every part of every paper of interest subject only to legal exemptions."

The documents had been flown out of Africa on the eve of Kenya's independence because they "might embarrass Her Majesty's Government". "Embarrassment hardly covers it," remarked a Times editorial, noting that "the covert history of colonial administration in Kenya bears comparison to the methods of torture and summary execution in the French war in Algeria." Between 1963 and 1994 the files were stored in Hayes repository; in 1994 they were moved to Hanslope Park, to save on storage costs. In 1967, in 1974, and again in 1982, Kenya asked for them to be released, but the UK refused.

Amongst other things, the records confirmed "the extent of the violence inflicted on suspected Mau Mau rebels" in British detention camps documented in Caroline Elkins' otherwise flawed study. Baring himself was aware of the "extreme brutality" of the sometimes-lethal torture meted out—which included "most drastic" beatings, solitary confinement, starvation, castration, whipping, burning, rape, sodomy, and forceful insertion of objects into orifices—but took no action. Baring's inaction was despite the urging of people like Arthur Young, Commissioner of Police for Kenya for less than eight months of 1954 before he resigned in protest, that "the horror of some of the [camps] should be investigated without delay".

Commenting on the papers, David Anderson stated that the "documents were hidden away to protect the guilty", and "that the extent of abuse now being revealed is truly disturbing." "Everything that could happen did happen. Allegations about beatings and violence were widespread. Basically you could get away with murder. It was systematic", Anderson said. The Kenyan government sent a letter to Hague insisting that the UK government was legally liable for the atrocities. The Foreign Office, however, reaffirmed its position that it was not, in fact, liable for colonial atrocities, and argued that the documents had not "disappeared" as part of a cover up. Edward Inglett made an unofficial, personal apology for the Foreign Office's "misplacing [the] documents".

The release of these documents has sparked similar actions from veterans of other anti colonial struggles, such as the EOKA campaign against the British occupation of Cyprus.

Mau Mau status in Kenya

Members of Mau Mau are currently recognised by the Kenyan Government as freedom/independence heroes/heroines who sacrificed their lives in order to free Kenyans from colonial rule. The Government of Kenya has proposed Mashujaa Day (Heroes Day) to be marked annually on 20 October (the same day Baring signed the Emergency order). According to the Kenyan Government, Mashujaa Day will be a time for Kenyans to remember and honour Mau Mau and other Kenyans who participated in the fight for African freedom and Kenya's independence. Mashujaa Day will replace Kenyatta Day; the latter has until now also been held on 20 October.

This official celebration of Mau Mau is in marked contrast to a post-colonial norm of Kenyan governments passing over Mau Mau as a symbol of national liberation. Such a turnabout has attracted criticism of government manipulation of the Mau Mau uprising for political ends.

It is often argued that Mau Mau was suppressed as a subject for public discussion in Kenya during the periods under Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi
Daniel arap Moi
Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was the President of Kenya from 1978 until 2002.Daniel arap Moi is popularly known to Kenyans as 'Nyayo', a Swahili word for 'footsteps'...

 because of the key positions and influential presence of some loyalists in government, business and other elite sectors of Kenyan society post-1963. Unsurprisingly, during this same period opposition groups tactically embraced the Mau Mau rebellion. As noted, Mau Mau's politicisation within Kenya appears to continue up to the present.

See also

  • History of Kenya
    History of Kenya
    As part of East Africa, the territory of what is now Kenya has seen human habitation since the beginning of the Lower Paleolithic. The Bantu expansion from a West African center of dispersal reached the area by the 1st millennium AD...

  • British military history
    British military history
    The Military history of Britain, including the military history of the United Kingdom and the military history of the island of Great Britain, is discussed in the following articles:...

  • Frank Kitson
    Frank Kitson
    General Sir Frank Edward Kitson GBE, KCB, MC and Bar, DL is a retired British Army officer and writer on military subjects, notably low intensity operations...

    , author of the book Gangs and Counter-gangs
  • Ian Henderson (Britain)
    Ian Henderson (Britain)
    Ian Henderson is a British citizen known for his alleged use of torture to put down the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya, and later the 1990s Uprising in Bahrain as an employee of the Bahrain government...

  • Hola massacre
    Hola massacre
    The Hola Massacre is an event that took place during the Mau Mau Uprising against British colonial rule at a colonial detention camp in Hola, Kenya.- Event :...

  • Weep Not, Child
    Weep Not, Child
    Weep Not, Child is Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's first novel, published in 1964 under the name James Ngugi. It was the first English novel to be published by an East African. Thiong'o's works deal with the relationship between Africans and the British colonists in Africa, and are heavily...

The name Kenya Land and Freedom Army is sometimes heard in connection with Mau Mau. KLFA is not simply another name for Mau Mau: it was the name that Dedan Kimathi used for a coordinating body which he tried to set up for Mau Mau. It was also the name of another militant group that sprang up briefly in the spring of 1960; the group was broken up during a brief operation from 26 March to 30 April.

Between 1895 and 1920, Kenya was formally known as British East Africa Protectorate
East Africa Protectorate
East Africa Protectorate was an area of East Africa occupying roughly the same terrain as present-day Kenya from the Indian Ocean inland to Uganda and the Great Rift Valley...

; between 1920 and 1963, as Kenya Colony and Protectorate
Kenya Colony
The Colony and Protectorate of Kenya was part of the British Empire in Africa. It was established when the former East Africa Protectorate was transformed into a British crown colony in 1920...


"Squatter or resident labourers are those who reside with their families on European farms usually for the purpose of work for the owners. . . . Contract labourers are those who sign a contract of service before a magistrate, for periods varying from three to twelve months. Casual labourers leave their reserves to engage themselves to European employers for any period from one day upwards." In return for his services, a squatter was entitled to use some of the settler's land for cultivation and grazing. Contract and casual workers are together referred to as migratory labourers, in distinction to the permanent presence of the squatters on farms. The phenomenon of squatters arose in response to the difficulties of Europeans in finding labourers and of Africans in gaining access to arable and grazing land.

During the Emergency, screening was the term used by colonial authorities to mean the interrogation of a Mau Mau suspect. The alleged member or sympathiser of Mau Mau would be interrogated in order to obtain an admission of guilt—specifically, a confession that they had taken the Mau Mau oath—as well as for intelligence.Elkins (2005), p. 63.

External links

Reviews of Elkins and Anderson

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