Case Study: Kenya
during the 1950's, was dominated by the Mau Mau uprising against the British.
A central feature of this revolt was a desire on the part of the Kikuyu, along
with some Embu and Meru people, for land taken by the Europeans.
The Mau Mau uprising also marked a turning point in the struggle for independence.
Kikuyu resistance to European colonisation was well established before the Second
World War. The Kikuyu Central Association was active in the 1930's under Jomo
campaigned energetically for the Kikuyu in Europe.
In 1951, Kenyatta was arrested and imprisoned by the British for being a leading
light in the Mau Mau movement. With his detention Mau Mau expanded.
1952, the British declared a state of emergency, which continued until 1960.
The State of Emergency was in response to an increase in attacks on the property
and persons of white settlers, as well as African chiefs who were seen as collaborators.
There was also an increase in oath taking. This was a ceremony, affirming loyalty
to the Mau Mau cause and war against the Europeans. About 2,000 Kikuyu were
killed by Mau Mau fighters for refusing to take the oath. Private secretary
J.M. Kariuki was one of the few people in post-independent Kenya prepared to
speak in favour of oath taking.
to J.M. Kariuki defending Mau Mau oath-taking
far larger amount, about 13,000, were killed fighting the British, and a further
80,000 were kept in detention camps. The number of Europeans who died in the
course of the emergency totalled just 32. The number of original Mau Mau fighters
was hugely increased by Kikuyu squatters who were expelled from European land
The main military leaders were Dedan Kimathi and Warihu Itote, also known as
General China. Dedan Kimathi was captured and executed in 1956. General China
was eventually released.
Kenyatta was not released until 1961. The Kenyan African National Union (KANU)
had voted him their President while he was still in prison.
The other main party to emerge in the run up to independence was the Kenyan
African Democratic Union KADU. In the event, KANU gained a majority in the Legislative
Assembly and Jomo Kenyatta led Kenya to independence in December 1963.
to Jomo Kenyatta's cheering crowds on Independence Day
to Jomo Kenyatta's thoughts on independence for Kenya
to citizen Mrs. Hesselburger describing beating off a Mau Mau attack