Most missionaries believed that the Mau Mau had cast a specter of evil over Kenya and had to be eradicated. Beginning in 1951 and ending in 1959, the rebellion included an oath of loyalty among adherents, attacks on settlers, and a poorly armed movement based in Kenyan forests. I participated in the collection of stories for this book. We all need reminding of that today. British and Kenyan settler security forces in the camps often killed detainees for fun. This is her first book.
Now, for the first time, we can understand the full savagery of the Mau Mau war and the ruthless determination with which Britain sought to control its empire. . An unforgettable act of historical re-creation, it is also a disturbing reminder of the brutal imperial precedents that continue to inform Western nations in their drive to democratize the world. People are sent away just from a nod of a loyalist head. This book is about the colonial reign of the British in Kenya.
On 20th October 1954, the Colonial Administration carried out Operation Jock Scott, where they detained all suspected leaders of the Mau Mau. The other amazing thing, of course, is how little of this is known. The thing that Can't give it anything other than five stars, as it accomplishes everything it sets out to do, and is vivid and readable and very thorough. Settlers, however, feared that they would demand tenant rights. This week, I chose to share a brief synthesis of a Caroline Elkin's Book, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya.
In addition to the survivors, Elkins was able to interview some people from the other side of the conflict, missionaries and colonial administrators as well as some of the white settlers, always on condition of anonymity. Specifically, it detailed the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Kikuyu in the Pipeline, a huge prison system designed to draw from prisoners confessions of their allegiance to the Mau Mau cause. The substance of the blog comes from an academic paper I wrote on the same I hope the Uni wont have shidaz with me. The Kikuyu fought back in a series of battles that culminated in a standoff in 1982, when Wayaki was captured, taken away and eventually buried alive by the colonial administration. Elkins's work here has been widely criticized for overestimating the number of rebel casualties and for failing to represent equally the brutality employed by the Mau Mau fighers. It was this oath that bound them to their cause: the Mau Mau cause. The first chapter of the book, Pax Britannica, lays out the sequence of events that produced the colonial state, physical, psychological and political.
The former critique seems to have been largely ratified by historians, but the latter strikes me as misguided. Now called Kenyans, they were driven off their land, fought back against the British and were crushed. The E-mail message field is required. It also could have offered greater insight into the fractious politics within the Kikuyu community, which was divided by the war. Therefore, this is not a broad-scoped history of Kenya, but a very tightly narrated one focused on the Mau Mau uprising, the British and white settler response, and how this all shaped Kenya's ultimate independence and emergence of it's first leader after independence, Jomo Kenyatta. Records and honors the voices of those who have been humiliated by the denial of their memory. In the meantime, the British government was working hard at finding legal loopholes in various human rights conventions that the British themselves had been instrumental in creating as part of what was supposed to be the framework of a new, better world order.
The European Convention on Human Rights could be ignored because of the Emergency but now something had to be done. Astonishingly, what the survivors recall most, however, was not the physical terror but the lack of food, the hunger. Right from the onset, the Mau Mau had a clear objective, to get, ithaka na wiathi, land and freedom. Large-scale mechanized farming no longer required squatters and reserves were over-crowded. In the words of one woman from Nyeri District: Hunger was the worst problem; that was what was killing most people. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize An Economist Best Book of the Year For decades Western imperialists have waged wars and destroyed local populations in the name of civilization and democracy. But Elkins also touches on one perhaps less obvious reason: the post-independence betrayal of the Kikuyu by their leaders, in particular Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta.
In reality it meant giving land to Loyalist African farmers and keeping Mau Mau supporters landless as labourers. Most of these dealt with a period known as 'the Emergency,' when the colonial government attempted to stamp out the Mau Mau movement. Imperial Reckoning is history of the highest order: meticulously researched, brilliantly written, and dramatic. After listening to Caroline Elkins last night at my Grandson's Spartan scholars award, I immedately went on line and ordered two copies of this book. Outrage, suppression, and silence -- 10. After years of research in London and Kenya, including interviews with hundreds of Kenyans, settlers, and former British officials, Elkins has written the first book about the eight-year British war against the Mau Mau. British East Africa, in the period known as the Scramble for Africa, was relatively ignored except for two important characteristics.
This work was richly explained and well researched and definitely deserved the Pulitzer Prize that it won. If I could, I would give it a 2. Not that I think the casual reader is going to have a lot of trouble understanding it, but do you really want to immerse yourself in the world of concentration camps and secret torture and execution in 1950s Kenya? They were only allowed three hours a week to collect food. Her interviews with the survivors of this British 'gulag' are a labor of love and courage-impressive in their frankness and deep emotional content as well as properly balanced between men and women, colonial officials and Mau Mau detainees. But in the British campaign that followed, thousands of Kikuyu, many of them innocent, were abused, tortured, or killed in a system of camps known as the Pipeline. Even though the oath was oral and not written, to the Kikuyu this was seen as a solemn pledge.
Life in the barbed wire villages, which were guarded by Kikuyu loyalists commanded by one or two British or white settler officers, was essentially the same as in the Pipeline, the main difference being that rather than being tortured to confess to being Mau Mau, those held in the villages were tortured to make them confess to supporting the guerrillas. Conversant in Swahili and some Kikuyu, she has spent nearly a decade traveling and working in rural Africa. If you come into it with a basic understanding of British Imperialism, then it is thorough, methodical yet easily understood and ordered progression through the Mau-Mau uprising. I believe the Imperial Reckoning 2004 is the same as Britain's Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya 2014 so I'll write this review based on that assumption. From 1952 to 1960, after a violent uprising by native Kenyans, the British detained and brutalized hundreds of thousands of Kikuyuthe colony's largest ethnic groupwho had demanded their independence. The chiefs used their positions to settle scores and did all they could to protect their privileged positions.
A surprising amount of my Kenyan friends, Uber drivers, folks I just meet a Gulag: a corrective detention or labor camp. I am sure British school kids are not taught how under the cloak of the mission to civilize savage Africans, British colonials repeated the same tactics they fought against only a decade earlier. The Mau Mau rebellion is regarded as an important event because of many elements, including the timing and the nature of the struggle. I'm not sure you do. Britain's Gulag reveals what happened inside Kenya's detention camps, as well as the efforts to conceal the truth. Only a handful of years later a group of Kenyans seek their freedom and independence and there are a few killings of white settlers.