African Studies Mau Mau
by
Myles Osborne
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0188

Introduction

The Mau Mau war exploded in the British colony of Kenya during the 1950s. It pitted dreadlocked guerrilla fighters drawn from the Gikuyu ethnic group—Kenya’s largest, at 20 percent of the population, and sometimes rendered “Kikuyu”—against British security forces and their “loyalist” allies. Mau Mau fighters comprised a well-organized military force made up of poor, often youthful, and socially insecure Gikuyu, who had suffered disproportionately under the British colonial system. Operating with great skill and determination from bases within the thick forests of central Kenya’s highlands, they conducted a military campaign to attempt to drive the British from the colony and create a new, ordered society. While the bulk of the military engagements took place between late 1952 and late 1954, the British colonial government in Kenya held the colony under a “State of Emergency” from 20 October 1952 until January 1960. More than 80,000 Gikuyu were imprisoned in “detention and rehabilitation” camps, and another million in enclosed villages, where abuses were common. Mau Mau was a complex movement; some scholars argue that there was never one unified “Mau Mau,” but rather a messy conglomeration of similarly interested groups, each operating with a degree of independence from one another. Even the naming of the movement is controversial: while the term “Mau Mau” is generally used today to describe both the guerrilla fighters as well as the conflict itself, the fighters themselves never used it in the 1950s. Some, therefore, prefer to call the force the “Kenya Land Freedom Army,” the title most often employed by its leaders. As a result of these complications—combined with the global importance of Mau Mau in the 1950s—more scholarly and popular work has been written about Mau Mau than almost any other topic in the history of sub-Saharan Africa. It remains controversial, inspirational, and a subject of immense significance for contemporary Kenya.

General Overviews

Rosberg and Nottingham 1966 played an important role in rehabilitating Mau Mau’s image, depicting the movement as a legitimate nationalist movement, in contrast to British efforts to portray it as an irrational expression of atavistic savagery. Today, Rosberg and Nottingham, as well as Edgerton 1989, have been largely eclipsed by more recent scholarship, though they remain significant stepping-stones in creating our current understanding of the conflict. Maloba 1993 is a readable overview that is suitable for undergraduate students, but readers may wish to jump directly to Anderson 2005 and Elkins 2005, two more recent works of scholarship with interestingly divergent views that have transformed our understanding of the episode, based in significant part on recent archival discoveries and a large number of oral interviews, respectively.

  • Anderson, David. Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005.

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    The most authoritative general account of the conflict; uses the court cases of 1,090 Mau Mau hanged during the 1950s to tell the story of the war.

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    • Edgerton, Robert. Mau Mau: An African Crucible. New York: Free Press, 1989.

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      A somewhat sensationalist narrative whose writing style and occasional errors are balanced by a number of original insights into Mau Mau.

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      • Elkins, Caroline. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. New York: Henry Holt, 2005.

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        This Pulitzer Prize–winning book is focused on the British “detention and rehabilitation” camp system. Its narrative is built in part from the testimony of over three hundred interviews with Gikuyu detainees, as well as former British settlers and officials.

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        • Maloba, Wunyabari. Mau Mau and Kenya: An Analysis of a Peasant Revolt. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

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          A broad chronological account of Mau Mau that traces the episode from its roots in the Gikuyu peasantry to its appropriation and contestation by a broad range of actors in more recent years.

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          • Rosberg, Carl, and John Nottingham. The Myth of “Mau Mau”: Nationalism in Kenya. New York: Praeger, 1966.

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            Now somewhat dated, but important as the first account to contradict British efforts to depict Mau Mau as irrational “savages.” The authors view Mau Mau as a nationalist movement aiming to achieve Kenyan independence. Published by Praeger for the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace (Stanford, CA).

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            Bibliographies and Historiographies

            Given Mau Mau’s popularity as a subject of academic and popular writing today, it is perhaps surprising that more bibliographies and historiographical essays about the movement do not exist. Osborne 2015 provides the simplest point of entry into Mau Mau’s complex historiography, and Lonsdale 1990 is a classic rendering of how Mau Mau was understood in such distinct ways even while the Emergency persisted in Kenya. Ndegwa 1977 and Ofcansky 1990 draw attention to a wide range of primary and secondary sources—particularly those published in Africa during the 1950s and 1960s—that often escape the notice of contemporary scholars.

            • Lonsdale, John. “Mau Maus of the Mind: Making Mau Mau and Remaking Kenya.” Journal of African History 31 (1990): 393–421.

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              An influential article that reveals how even in the years before Kenya’s independence, four “mutually incompatible” European “myths” about Mau Mau had appeared. They represent the earliest complications in our continuing struggle to comprehend Mau Mau.

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              • Ndegwa, R. N. Mau Mau: A Select Bibliography. Nairobi: Kenyatta University College, 1977.

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                An earlier bibliography, particularly useful for its large number of articles and books published in Kenya itself.

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                • Ofcansky, Thomas. “The Mau Mau Revolt in Kenya, 1952–1960: A Preliminary Bibliography.” Africana Journal 15 (1990): 97–126.

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                  A useful collection that includes a number of little-known articles published in East Africa during the 1950s, as well as a smaller number in the Norwegian, French, German, and Russian languages.

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                  • Osborne, Myles. “The Historiography of Mau Mau.” In The Life and Times of General China: Mau Mau and the End of Empire in Kenya. Edited by Myles Osborne, 255–261. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2015.

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                    A short historiographical essay designed to provide an entrée to the voluminous literature on Mau Mau. Includes both primary and secondary sources.

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                    Reference Works and General Histories

                    Though now slightly dated, Ochieng’ 1989 provides an easy way to become familiar with the history of colonial Kenya, and for those interested in Gikuyu precolonial history, Muriuki 1974 is still the standard work. Maxon 2009 allows the reader to situate Kenya’s past within the broader sweep of East African history. Mau Mau has great significance in understanding contemporary Kenya, a point explained and explored by both Ogot and Ochieng’ 1995 and Hornsby 2013, the latter perhaps the most authoritative account of the history of the independent nation. Akyeampong and Gates 2012, a six-volume encyclopedia, is useful for learning about the characters important in Mau Mau, and of course far more broadly in African history, while more advanced readers will find Berman and Lonsdale 1992 essential reading.

                    • Akyeampong, Emmanuel, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., eds. The Dictionary of African Biography. 6 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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                      Contains over 2,100 entries on individual Africans, including many involved in Mau Mau and Kenyan history.

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                      • Berman, Bruce, and John Lonsdale. Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya and Africa. 2 vols. London: James Currey, 1992.

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                        An erudite collection of essays on Kenyan and African history that is sensitive to the complexities and ambiguities of colonialism, and indeed the methodological and theoretical challenges of writing colonial history.

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                        • Hornsby, Charles. Kenya: A History since Independence. London: I. B. Tauris, 2013.

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                          A comprehensive account of Kenyan history since 1963. Useful for understanding the continuing effects of Mau Mau in independent Kenya.

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                          • Maxon, Robert. East Africa: An Introductory History. 3d ed. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2009.

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                            A chronological history of the areas currently known as Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda from the Stone Age to the present.

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                            • Muriuki, Godfrey. A History of the Kikuyu, 1500–1900. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974.

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                              The most authoritative work on Gikuyu history before the arrival of British colonialism.

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                              • Ochieng’, William, ed. A Modern History of Kenya, 1895–1980. London: Evans Brothers, 1989.

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                                Eight chapters written by seven different authors that unpack Kenya’s history chronologically (10–15 years per chapter).

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                                • Ogot, Bethwell, and William Ochieng’, eds. Decolonization and Independence in Kenya, 1940–93. Oxford: James Currey, 1995.

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                                  Ties Kenya’s period of decolonization into broader considerations of the challenges facing the nation once ostensibly “independent.”

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                                  Primary Sources

                                  This section is divided into six subsections. The first two contain narrative accounts of the conflict authored by Europeans and Mau Mau, respectively. The third section contains other texts produced by Mau Mau authors, and the fourth includes official government documents from Britain and Kenya. Section five provides web resources, and section six features two articles that speak to evidentiary difficulties for those utilizing primary sources to study Mau Mau.

                                  Narrative Accounts: European-Authored

                                  European soldiers, policemen, settlers, government officials, and more wrote narrative accounts of Mau Mau. Majdalany 1962—by a journalist visiting Kenya—was the first to attempt a comprehensive recounting of the episode. Leakey 1952—by a paleoanthropologist often described as a “white Kikuyu”—provides the most sympathetic settler account of Mau Mau, and Blundell 1964 is a voice from inside the colonial government. Henderson and Goodhart 1958 and Baldwin 1957 are both works by police officers (the latter a reservist) deeply engaged in the actual combat operations of the war, and the author of Parker 2011 was a member of the Kenya Regiment. Bewes 1953 reflects the thinking of those who viewed Mau Mau as motivated by anti-Christian sentiments, and Evans 1956 is an attempt to “blow the whistle” on British actions in Kenya during the Emergency.

                                  • Baldwin, William. Mau Mau Man-Hunt: The Adventures of the Only American Who Has Fought the Terrorists in Kenya. New York: Dutton, 1957.

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                                    Deeply racist account of a young American who joins the Kenya Police Reserve in mid-1954. Baldwin has no qualms about describing torture and murder he carried out.

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                                    • Bewes, T. F. C. Kikuyu Conflict: Mau Mau and the Christian Witness. London: Highway Press, 1953.

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                                      Describes those Christians who maintained their religious convictions in the face of Mau Mau attacks. Represents a commonly held European perception that Mau Mau was explicitly “anti-Christian.”

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                                      • Blundell, Michael. So Rough a Wind: The Kenya Memoirs of Sir Michael Blundell. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1964.

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                                        Authored by the foremost settler politician, Blundell’s memoir deals at length with Mau Mau in moderate tones. The voice of the “liberal” settlers, Blundell’s firsthand account of the transition to independence by one so deeply involved is valuable.

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                                        • Evans, Peter. Law and Disorder; Or, Scenes of Life in Kenya. London: Secker & Warburg, 1956.

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                                          Account written by the Irish lawyer expelled from Kenya for trying to document abuses during the 1950s.

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                                          • Henderson, Ian, with Philip Goodhart. The Hunt for Kimathi. London: H. Hamilton, 1958.

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                                            About Henderson’s operation to capture Dedan Kimathi. Provides a useful window into the “pseudo-gangs” of former Mau Mau who were converted to fighting on the British side.

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                                            • Leakey, Louis. Mau Mau and the Kikuyu. London: Methuen, 1952.

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                                              Leakey—the paleoanthropologist, Gikuyu elder, and settler—offers a defense of traditional Gikuyu cultural institutions. For Leakey, Mau Mau was a bastardization of these, and appeared from the too-rapid social transformations brought by colonialism, combined with legitimate grievances the Gikuyu had experienced.

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                                              • Majdalany, Fred. State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau. London: Longmans, 1962.

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                                                A journalistic account that provides the first full rendering of the conflict. Demonstrates how little the British understood the complexities of the Mau Mau movement and its origins.

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                                                • Parker, Ian. The Last Colonial Regiment: The History of the Kenya Regiment. Forres, UK: Librario Publishing, 2011.

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                                                  A sober account of the history of the largely European Kenya Regiment (KR). The KR played a central role during Mau Mau, both in assisting the Kenya Police and King’s African Rifles, and in undertaking counterinsurgency operations itself.

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                                                  Narrative Accounts: Mau Mau-Authored

                                                  One might best begin any consideration of Mau Mau memoirs by reading Marshall Clough’s Mau Mau Memoirs (Clough 1998, cited under Oathing) which helps put the memoirs in historical context. Barnett and Njama 1966 and Itote 1967 depict Mau Mau as a well-organized, legitimate army, in direct response to British charges of savagery. Wachanga 1975 is another authoritative account about the war in the forest. Otieno 1998 is the only account authored by a female forest fighter; Huttenbach 2015 the only one by a non-Gikuyu member of Mau Mau; and Mathu and Barnett 1974 the only one by a memoirist who operated in a city during the Emergency. Kariuki 1963 was the first effort to rehabilitate Mau Mau’s global image, and it speaks to the experience of detention.

                                                  • Barnett, Donald, and Karari Njama. Mau Mau from Within: Autobiography and Analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt. London: Macgibbon and Kee, 1966.

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                                                    The first memoir authored by a forest fighter. Njama was secretary to Dedan Kimathi, the leader of Mau Mau, and he depicts Mau Mau forces as carefully organized and engaged in a legitimate struggle.

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                                                    • Huttenbach, Laura Lee, ed. The Boy Is Gone: Conversations with a Mau Mau General. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2015.

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                                                      Tells the life story of Japhlet Thambu, a farmer, community elder, and businessman from Meru who led troops during Mau Mau.

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                                                      • Itote, Waruhiu. “Mau Mau” General. Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1967.

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                                                        Authoritative account focused on the forest war and its aftermath, written by Mau Mau’s third-in-command.

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                                                        • Kariuki, J. M. “Mau Mau” Detainee: The Account by a Kenya African of His Experiences in Detention Camps, 1953–1960. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963.

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                                                          Kariuki—a prominent political figure in independent Kenya—describes his detention during Mau Mau. He depicts Mau Mau as an organized, rational response to the indignities of colonialism.

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                                                          • Mathu, Mohamed, and Donald Barnett. The Urban Guerrilla: The Story of Mohamed Mathu. Richmond, BC: Liberation Support Movement, 1974.

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                                                            The only memoir written by a member of Mau Mau who was active in an urban area—in this case, Nairobi—during the war.

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                                                            • Otieno, Wambui. Mau Mau’s Daughter: A Life History. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998.

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                                                              Written in conjunction with the historian Cora Ann Presley, this is the only account written by a female forest fighter. Otieno became a prominent public figure in independent Kenya due to the controversy about the burial of her husband, “SM” Otieno.

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                                                              • Wachanga, H. K. The Swords of Kirinyaga: The Fight for Land and Freedom. Kampala: East African Literature Bureau, 1975.

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                                                                A detailed “forest memoir” authored by Kahinga Wachanga, a close colleague of Mau Mau’s second-in-command Stanley Mathenge, and founding member of Anake a 40 (“Forty Group”). Wachanga provides excellent detail on efforts to procure Mau Mau’s surrender in 1955.

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                                                                Other Mau Mau Texts

                                                                Mau Mau produced a huge number of documents and records for later archiving during their time in the forests. Unfortunately, few survived the Emergency. Maina wa Kinyatti has done more than anyone else to rescue this history in his collection of Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi’s papers (Kinyatti 1987), as well as poems and songs (Kinyatti 1990). Ogot 1977 deals with what the British described as Mau Mau “hymns,” often sung to the tune of well-known Christian tunes, and used as evidence to prosecute Mau Mau sympathizers during the Emergency. Award-winning author Gakaara wa Wanjau’s diaries (Wanjau 1988)—secreted out from a detention camp—provide a day-to-day recounting of the experience of life in detention.

                                                                • Kinyatti, Maina wa, ed. Kenya’s Freedom Struggle: The Dedan Kimathi Papers. London: Zed Books, 1987.

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                                                                  An unparalleled collection of letters, notes, and statements written by Dedan Kimathi. There is some question as to the veracity of Kinyatti’s translations from the Gikuyu language.

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                                                                  • Kinyatti, Maina wa, ed. Thunder from the Mountains: Poems and Songs from the Mau Mau. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1990.

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                                                                    Kinyatti’s edited collection of sixty-six songs written by Mau Mau to mobilize, motivate, and celebrate members of the movement. Readers should use caution in relying too heavily on Kinyatti’s translations.

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                                                                    • Ogot, Bethwell. “Politics, Culture, and Music in Central Kenya: A Study of Mau Mau Hymns, 1951–1956.” Kenya Historical Review 5 (1977): 275–286.

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                                                                      A scholarly analysis of a wide range of Mau Mau-authored hymns, which contains extensive quotations of the texts themselves.

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                                                                      • Wanjau, Gakaara wa. Mau Mau Author in Detention. Nairobi: Heinemann, 1988.

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                                                                        The diaries of prominent Mau Mau author Gakaara wa Wanjau, translated from the Gikuyu language. In 1957 the diaries were smuggled out of the detention camp in which Gakaara was detained.

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                                                                        Government Documents

                                                                        Carothers 1954 and Colony & Protectorate of Kenya 1960 are the two official government investigations into Mau Mau. Both largely (though not completely) excuse the colonial government and Britain itself from any blame for the war. Great Britain 1959 is the formal investigation into the highly publicized deaths of detainees at Hola camp, while Osborne 2015 provides the texts of the interrogation and trial of Mau Mau leader General China. Those wishing to do further research may access thousands of documents produced by government officials in Kenya during the colonial period, including in the Emergency years (see Gregory, et al. 1968).

                                                                        • Carothers, J. C. The Psychology of Mau Mau. Nairobi: Government Printer, 1954.

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                                                                          The report of psychologist Dr. Colin Carothers, researched and written at the behest of the Kenyan government. Carothers suggested that Mau Mau had appeared among the Gikuyu as an expression of psychic anxiety from the too-rapid transition into the modern world.

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                                                                          • Colony & Protectorate of Kenya. Historical Survey of the Origins and Growth of Mau Mau. London: HMSO, 1960.

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                                                                            Usually known as the “Corfield Report” after its author, it laid the blame for Mau Mau firmly at the feet of Kenya’s future first president Jomo Kenyatta, in a broad attempt to discredit Mau Mau as lacking any legitimate political grievances.

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                                                                            • Great Britain. Documents Relating to the Deaths of Eleven Mau Mau Detainees at Hola Camp in Kenya. London: HMSO, 1959.

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                                                                              Report of a British government commission to investigate the deaths of eleven Mau Mau at Hola detention camp. Though Kenyan officials initially suggested that contaminated water likely caused the deaths, the report reveals that the eleven were severely beaten.

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                                                                              • Gregory, Robert, Robert Maxon, and Leon Spencer. A Guide to the Kenya National Archives. Syracuse, NY: Program of Eastern African Studies, Syracuse University, 1968.

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                                                                                In the 1960s, approximately four million pages of documents produced by the colonial government in Kenya—ranging from district reports to correspondence—were copied, microfilmed, and deposited with Syracuse University Libraries. The collection is controversial because there is some question as to whether appropriate permissions were secured at the time. Held at Syracuse University in microfilm format and accessible via Interlibrary Loan.

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                                                                                • Osborne, Myles, ed. The Life and Times of General China: Mau Mau and the End of Empire in Kenya. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2015.

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                                                                                  Includes chapters containing edited archival documents detailing the interrogation and trial of General China, Mau Mau’s third-in command, at British hands. See “The Interrogation of Waruhiu Itote (General China)” and “The Trial of Waruhiu Itote (General China)” (pp. 145–241).

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                                                                                  Online

                                                                                  Online resources for Mau Mau are limited. Both British Pathé and the Kenya Gazette permit researchers a window into the daily happenings of the Emergency years.

                                                                                  • British Pathé.

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                                                                                    An unrivalled collection of more than 85,000 films of varying lengths about a wide range of British historical episodes between the 1890s and 1976. The collection contains a number of news films and shorts about Kenya and Mau Mau from the 1950s.

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                                                                                    • Kenya Gazette.

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                                                                                      The Kenya Gazette contains government pronouncements, legal notices, and information for the public published from the late 19th century until today. Virginia Tech University and Kenya Law are engaged in an ongoing project to digitize its entire print run.

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                                                                                      Contemporary Issues

                                                                                      In recent years, the conflict was the subject of a lawsuit against the British government, brought by Mau Mau veterans together with the Kenya Human Rights Commission. Successfully arguing that the British committed systematic atrocities in Kenya during the 1950s, the plaintiffs uniquely won a judgment of nearly £20 million in 2013. Much of the case hinged around documents: at independence, thousands of tons of papers from Kenya were burned at the order of the colonial government, but in 2011, materials resurfaced at Hanslope Park, a government-owned estate in the British countryside. Here, historians David Anderson, Huw Bennett, and Caroline Elkins—each of whom gave expert testimony in the case—reflect on evidence and sources for knowledge about Mau Mau (see Anderson 2015 and Elkins 2011, along with Bennett 2013, cited under Military).

                                                                                      • Anderson, David. “Guilty Secrets: Deceit, Denial, and the Discovery of Kenya’s Migrated Archive.” History Workshop Journal 80 (2015): 1–21.

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                                                                                        Outlines the process through which damning documents about British activities in colonial Kenya were “lost” in the early 1960s, then finally reappeared in 2011. Anderson concludes by suggesting that the documents should now be returned to Kenya.

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                                                                                        • Elkins, Caroline. “Alchemy of Evidence: Mau Mau, the British Empire, and the High Court of Justice.” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39 (2011): 731–748.

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                                                                                          Discusses the controversies that have surrounded the case as well as recent scholarship about Mau Mau. Much of the controversy relates to the uses of evidence (by both historians and lawyers), and especially the validity of oral versus written testimonies.

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                                                                                          Origins

                                                                                          Mau Mau’s origins were—to say the least—complex. Furedi 1973 and Spencer 1985 draw our attention to Nairobi, revealing how moderate African politics was replaced by the rising tide of youthful militancy after the Second World War. Throup 1988 addresses government failures to assuage discontent in the colony, while Kanogo 1987 takes on the all-important landless Gikuyu “squatters” who made up the backbone of Mau Mau. Lonsdale 1992 and Kershaw 1997 go deep into Gikuyu society to understand the crucial social traumas that played into the movement, and therefore which cadres of Gikuyu found it attractive.

                                                                                          • Furedi, Frank. “The African Crowd in Nairobi: Popular Movements and Elite Politics.” Journal of African History 14 (1973): 275–290.

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                                                                                            Demonstrates how political activism became divided in Nairobi after the Second World War between “moderates” and “militants.” The latter—organized into groups such as Anake a 40 (“40 Group”)—would form the populist core of Mau Mau.

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                                                                                            • Kanogo, Tabitha. Squatters and the Roots of Mau Mau, 1905–63. Oxford: James Currey, 1987.

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                                                                                              An account focused on Gikuyu “squatters”—resident laborers—who were evicted from settler farms and other areas in the 1940s. This created tremendous landlessness among the Gikuyu poor, many of whom joined Mau Mau.

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                                                                                              • Kershaw, Greet. Mau Mau From Below. Oxford: James Currey, 1997.

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                                                                                                An account of unrivalled depth that seeks to understand Mau Mau in Githunguri, a division of Kiambu, to the north of Nairobi. Anthropologist Kershaw did her fieldwork during the Emergency and provides revealing insights about an area where people ultimately supported Mau Mau, but in a format that was nonviolent.

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                                                                                                • Lonsdale, John. “The Moral Economy of Mau Mau: The Problem.” In Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya and Africa. Vol. 2, Violence and Ethnicity. Edited by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale, 265–314. London: James Currey, 1992.

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                                                                                                  See also following chapter: “The Moral Economy of Mau Mau: Wealth, Poverty & Civic Virtue in Kikuyu Political Thought” (315–504). The two chapters comprise a seminal work that explores the roots of Mau Mau as relating to fractures in the Gikuyu “moral economy” as a result of colonialism. Lonsdale explores the crisis relating to gender and generation that caused the collapse of the ordered functioning of Gikuyu society.

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                                                                                                  • Spencer, John. The Kenya African Union. London: KPI, 1985.

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                                                                                                    Founded in 1942 (though earlier manifestations existed), KAU (pronounced “cow”) was the most important African political party in Kenya. It splintered around 1950 as its historically moderate approach was hijacked and increasingly radicalized by Mau Mau militants.

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                                                                                                    • Throup, David. Economic and Social Origins of Mau Mau. London: James Currey, 1988.

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                                                                                                      Blames Mau Mau on the Kenya administration’s ineptitude between 1945 and 1952. Kenyan officials failed to adequately resolve major issues (including the squatters’ access to land), and to ably implement soil conservation or housing programs.

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                                                                                                      Land and White Settlement

                                                                                                      It is impossible to understand Mau Mau (and indeed colonial Kenya) without understanding land and white settlement. Throughout the colonial period, more and more land was “alienated” to white settlers, on whose agricultural production the colony’s economy was supposed to function. The loss of land was a central factor in driving poor Gikuyu into Mau Mau. Lonsdale 2014 provides a learned overview of white settlement, and Shadle 2015 a foundation for understanding the process in which the settlers became entrenched in Kenya. Huxley 1959 represents the voice of the white settlers themselves. Kitching 1980 and Sorrenson 1967 discuss how colonialism and colonial land policies inspired class formation in the colony, leaving thousands of poor Gikuyu landless and without hope. Elkins 2005 describes the “second colonial occupation” after the Second World War in which settlerdom became even more repressive, and Kanogo 1987 explains how the loss of land for Kenya’s “squatters” contributed to Mau Mau’s emergence. Wasserman 1976 focuses on the transition from Emergency to independent governance, as it became clear that little would change with regard to land use in central Kenya.

                                                                                                      • Elkins, Caroline. “Race, Citizenship, and Governance: Settler Tyranny and the End of Empire.” In Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century: Projects, Practices, Legacies. Edited by Caroline Elkins and Susan Pedersen, 203–224. New York: Routledge, 2005.

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                                                                                                        Argues that racial hegemony became further entrenched after the Second World War in Kenya. Settlers combined with the colonial government to ratchet up “control and repression of the indigenous population,” producing the colony’s violent war of decolonization.

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                                                                                                        • Huxley, Elspeth. The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood. London: Chatto & Windus, 1959.

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                                                                                                          Written by the most famous voice of white settlerdom, Huxley’s memoir recounts her childhood growing up in Kenya, providing a useful window into white settler society.

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                                                                                                          • Kanogo, Tabitha. Squatters and the Roots of Mau Mau, 1905–63. Oxford: James Currey, 1987.

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                                                                                                            Describes the importance of “squatters”—resident laborers—whose landlessness in the late 1940s and early 1950s played a role in the emergence of Mau Mau.

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                                                                                                            • Kitching, Gavin. Class and Economic Change in Kenya: The Making of an African Petite-Bourgeoisie. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                              A detailed study that links land, agriculture, and economics to class structure in Kenya. The division between the landed and landless was at the core of the unrest that produced Mau Mau.

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                                                                                                              • Lonsdale, John. “Kenya: Home County and African Frontier.” In Settlers and Expatriates: Britons over the Seas. Edited by Robert Bickers, 74–111. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                                An erudite overview of white settlement in Kenya from the turn of the 20th century until independence. This wide-ranging essay touches on topics ranging from settler violence to language use to relations with Britain, and introduces several of white Kenya’s most important characters.

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                                                                                                                • Shadle, Brett. The Souls of White Folk: White Settlers in Kenya, 1900–1920s. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2015.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719095344.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Establishes how settler culture appeared and developed in Kenya from the earliest days. A foundational work for any discussion of Europeans in Kenya.

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                                                                                                                  • Sorrenson, M. P. K. Land Reform in the Kikuyu Country: A Study in Government Policy. Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1967.

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                                                                                                                    Explores the social and economic impacts of colonial land legislation in Gikuyuland. It produced a class of landless “have-nots” who would form the basis of Mau Mau’s membership. British land consolidation during the Emergency aimed to create a middle class of Gikuyu who would insulate against any possible reemergence of Mau Mau.

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                                                                                                                    • Wasserman, Gary. Politics of Decolonization: Kenya Europeans and the Land Issue. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511759611Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Argues that the political maneuverings surrounding Kenya’s decolonization resulted in the maintenance of the colonial political economy in the independent nation. Many settlers maintained their farms and positions of privilege, in alliance with new African elites who joined them.

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                                                                                                                      Detention

                                                                                                                      The “Emergency” granted the government and security forces extraordinary powers in prosecuting the conflict. More than 80,000 Gikuyu were detained in camps, and approximately one million moved into enclosed villages. Elkins 2005 is the most authoritative work on the detention camp system. Elkins’s book ignited a controversy regarding the numbers of deaths in the conflict (in major part a result of the detention camp system), an issue taken up by Blacker 2007. Anderson 2012 provides an overview of the all-encompassing mechanisms of violence that characterized the conflict. Bruce-Lockhart 2014 writes about the two detention camps for women, while Peterson 2008 describes how Mau Mau detainees continued to create new forms of Gikuyu culture despite their incarceration.

                                                                                                                      • Anderson, David. “British Abuse and Torture in Kenya’s Counter-Insurgency, 1952–1960.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 23 (2012): 700–719.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2012.709760Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Rejects explanations for British violence toward Mau Mau adherents as being isolated and exceptional. Rather, Anderson argues, abuse and torture were “widespread, amounting to a systematic pattern of state policy.”

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                                                                                                                        • Blacker, John. “The Demography of Mau Mau: Fertility and Mortality in Kenya in the 1950s: A Demographer’s Viewpoint.” African Affairs 106 (2007): 205–227.

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                                                                                                                          Article by a demographer using census (and other) data to suggest that approximately 50,000 “excess deaths” occurred as a result of the Emergency.

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                                                                                                                          • Bruce-Lockhart, Katherine. “‘Unsound’ Minds and Broken Bodies: The Detention of ‘Hardcore’ Mau Mau Women at Kamiti and Gitamayu Detention Camps in Kenya, 1954–1960.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 8 (2014): 590–608.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2014.948148Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Examines British officials’ uncertainty about how to deal with “hardcore” Mau Mau women at the Kamiti and Gitamayu camps during the latter years of the conflict.

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                                                                                                                            • Elkins, Caroline. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. New York: Henry Holt, 2005.

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                                                                                                                              A powerful indictment of the detention camp system in Kenya based on a significant number of oral interviews with former Mau Mau.

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                                                                                                                              • Peterson, Derek. “The Intellectual Lives of Mau Mau Detainees.” Journal of African History 49 (2008): 73–91.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0021853708003411Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Using the papers of Gakaara wa Wanjau, Peterson shows how detainees continued to be socially and culturally active in British camps despite frequently appalling conditions.

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                                                                                                                                Military

                                                                                                                                Defeating Mau Mau required an enormous (and expensive) buildup of the British military establishment in Kenya. Percox 2003 provides a brief introduction to the expansion of these forces after the Second World War. Based on recently released documents, Bennett 2013 is the most comprehensive study of British forces and their activities, replacing Clayton 1976, a classic though more sympathetic rendering. Heather 1990 describes British intelligence services, Throup 1992 writes about the Kenya Police, and Chappell 2011 examines British efforts to use air power over the forests. Kitson 1960 is a firsthand account of the day-to-day war in the forest from the British side, while Jackson 2003 provides a window into Mau Mau techniques for surviving (and thriving) in the forests.

                                                                                                                                • Bennett, Huw. Fighting the Mau Mau: The British Army and Counter-Insurgency in the Kenya Emergency. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                  The leading history of the British military during the Emergency. Demonstrates how a culture of violence and impunity pervaded the entire military system despite the best efforts of senior officers.

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                                                                                                                                  • Chappell, Stephen. “Air Power in the Mau Mau Conflict: The Government’s Chief Weapon.” The RUSI Journal 156 (2011): 64–70.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/03071847.2011.559986Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Argues that the Royal Air Force successfully targeted Mau Mau fighters while minimizing civilian casualties.

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                                                                                                                                    • Clayton, Anthony. Counter-Insurgency in Kenya: A Study of Military Operations against Mau Mau. London: Frank Cass, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                      A wide-ranging history of the counterinsurgency efforts that largely exonerates the British military from charges of abuse (though not their loyalist allies). The author was a member of the Department of Labour in Kenya during the Emergency and is sensitive to the social and political aspects of Mau Mau.

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                                                                                                                                      • Heather, Randall. “Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency in Kenya, 1952–56.” Intelligence and National Security 5 (1990): 57–83.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/02684529008432063Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Demonstrates that the slow speed with which the Kenyan government built its intelligence services in the early 1950s hampered its ability to take the offensive against Mau Mau until mid-1954.

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                                                                                                                                        • Jackson, Kennell. “‘Impossible To Ignore Their Greatness’: Survival Craft in the Mau Mau Forest Movement.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 176–190. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                          About the ways Mau Mau survived—and in many cases prospered—using survival craft in the difficult forest environment.

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                                                                                                                                          • Kitson, Frank. Gangs and Counter-Gangs. London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1960.

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                                                                                                                                            A detailed account of forest operations by a captain in the British Army. A founder of the “pseudo-gang technique”—in which captured Mau Mau were converted to fighting on the government side—Kitson worked closely with the police and Kenya Regiment during his deployment.

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                                                                                                                                            • Percox, David. “Mau Mau and the Arming of the State.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 121–154. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                              A broad overview of the escalation of the “arming of the state” in Kenya between 1945 and 1965. It was driven in significant part by British efforts to support moderate political development before 1963, and President Kenyatta’s government afterward.

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                                                                                                                                              • Throup, David. “Crime, Politics and the Police in Colonial Kenya, 1939–63.” In Policing and Decolonisation: Politics, Nationalism and the Police, 1917–65. Edited by David Anderson and David Killingray, 127–157. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                Reviews the difficulties in expanding and transforming the work of the Kenya Police between the Second World War and independence in 1963.

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                                                                                                                                                International Media and Propaganda

                                                                                                                                                As soon as the Emergency was declared, Mau Mau captured the attention of the colonized world. The British instituted a vast propaganda campaign to discredit the movement and its aspirations, depicting it as savage and violent. Cleary 1990 considers this effort and international responses to it. Carruthers 1995 and Osborne 2015 analyze propaganda implemented in Kenya itself, the latter highlighting British difficulties in besting Mau Mau efforts. Lewis 2003 and Shaw 1995 evaluate the depiction of Mau Mau in various press organs in Britain and the United States, respectively.

                                                                                                                                                • Carruthers, Susan. Winning Hearts and Minds: British Governments, the Media, and Colonial Counter-Insurgency, 1944–1960. London: Leicester University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                  Describes the efforts of British officials to implement propaganda during the Emergency. Based entirely on documents held in the National Archives of the United Kingdom in London (chapter 3).

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                                                                                                                                                  • Cleary, A. S. “The Myth of Mau Mau in its International Context.” African Affairs 89 (1990): 227–245.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a098286Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    This article begins by describing how Britain sought to create the “myth” of Mau Mau as a minor, localized uprising. It then considers how press organs in various nations, including the United States, Soviet Union, India, and South Africa, responded to the movement.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Lewis, Joanna. “‘Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Mau Mau’: The British Popular Press and the Demoralization of Empire.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 227–250. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                      Analyzes how the British Daily Mail and Daily Mirror depicted Mau Mau during the 1950s.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Osborne, Myles. “‘The Rooting Out of Mau Mau from the Minds of the Kikuyu is a Formidable Task’: Propaganda and the Mau Mau War.” Journal of African History 56 (2015): 77–97.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S002185371400067XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Details the range of propaganda techniques implemented by the British in Kenya. The article argues that despite vast resources pumped into this effort, skilled Mau Mau propagandists matched government efforts during the first years of the conflict.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Shaw, Carolyn. Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                          Shaw studies how the New York Times, Time, and Newsweek portrayed Mau Mau in the 1950s (pp. 170–178).

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                                                                                                                                                          Loyalism

                                                                                                                                                          The term “loyalists” is used to describe those Gikuyu (and occasionally others) who sided with the British during Mau Mau. Many made economic and political gains following the war, as those who had participated in Mau Mau found themselves facing discrimination in voting, land ownership, and business. Fazan 2015 is a firsthand account by a long-serving Kenya administrator who was concerned with the loyalist experience during the Emergency. Ogot 1972 and Tamarkin 1977 provide early efforts to take on the thorny topic of thinking about those who had sided with Britain, an issue that continues to divide Kenyans even today. Branch 2009 is now the most important work on loyalism, which reveals how flexible the categories of “Mau Mau” and “loyalist” could be. Anderson 2006 demonstrates how African loyalists allowed Britain to avoid responsibility for violence, and Anderson 2017 shows how amnesty was used to maintain loyalists’ allegiance. Osborne 2014 shows how those outside central Kenya could press for and receive rewards for rejecting Mau Mau.

                                                                                                                                                          • Anderson, David. “Surrogates of the State: Collaboration and Atrocity in Kenya’s Mau Mau War.” In The Barbarization of Warfare. Edited by George Kassimeris, 159–174. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                            Shows how the British deliberately used “surrogates”—the Gikuyu Home Guard—as proxies, thereby insulating themselves from charges of atrocity and violence.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Anderson, David. “Making the Loyalist Bargain: Surrender, Amnesty and Impunity in Kenya’s Decolonization, 1952–63.” International History Review 39 (2017): 48–70.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/07075332.2016.1230769Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Demonstrates how the British used offers of amnesty for violent acts to ensure the continued support of the Kikuyu Home Guard, with lasting consequences. Also explores the use of surrender offers made to Mau Mau fighters during the conflict.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Branch, Daniel. Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya: Counterinsurgency, Civil War, and Decolonization. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                A seminal work that demonstrates the complexities and ambiguities of the struggle by focusing on the loyalists and their strategies for negotiating the war. Also shows how the loyalists won success in independent Kenya, unlike their Mau Mau opponents.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Fazan, Sidney. Colonial Kenya Observed: British Rule, Mau Mau and the Wind of Change. London: I. B. Tauris, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Written by colonial administrator Sidney Fazan and edited by Cambridge historian John Lonsdale, this is a thoughtful memoir of Fazan’s several decades of service in Kenya. Those interested might also consider tracking down Fazan’s important (but more obscure) History of the Loyalists, published in 1961, which pays powerful tribute to the “high courage” of those Gikuyu who faced Mau Mau.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Ogot, Bethwell. “Revolt of the Elders: An Anatomy of the Loyalist Crowd in the Mau Mau Uprising, 1952–1956.” In Hadith 4: Politics and Nationalism in Colonial Kenya. Edited by Bethwell Ogot, 134–148. Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Considers how factors ranging from land ownership to age, social status, custom, and religion all played a role in determining who was part of the loyalist “crowd.”

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Osborne, Myles. “Controlling Development: ‘Martial Race’ and Empire in Kenya, 1945–59.” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 42 (2014): 464–485.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/03086534.2013.868230Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Demonstrates how post–Second World War development funding was aimed at the Kamba ethnic group as a way to try to guarantee their loyalty during Mau Mau. Kamba leaders ably wrung ever-increasing levels of monies from the government.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Tamarkin, Mordechai. “The Loyalists in Nakuru during the Mau Mau Revolt and its Aftermath, 1953–1963.” Asian and African Studies 12 (1977): 247–261.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Outlines the composition of the loyalist movement in Nakuru, the main town in the Rift Valley. These loyalists disliked the violence of Mau Mau, and were political moderates, an orientation they maintained in Nakuru politics as Kenya neared independence.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Oathing

                                                                                                                                                                        At the core of Mau Mau sat the oath, the practice that sought to bind members of the movement to one another in rejection of those British or loyalists who opposed their aims. Clough 1998 is the first port of call for an interested reader. Luongo 2006 shows how the British eventually turned to trying to “cleanse” the oath’s hold over those who had taken it, while Green 1990 addresses the wide-ranging authority and authenticity the oathing process conveyed.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Clough, Marshall. Mau Mau Memoirs: History, Memory, and Politics. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A comprehensive introduction to oathing based on the published accounts of Mau Mau fighters (chapter 4).

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Green, Maia. “Mau Mau Oathing Rituals and Political Ideology in Kenya: A Re-Analysis.” Africa 60 (1990): 69–87.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/1160427Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Argues that the oath stood between religion and politics, transcending both. The oath was no simplistic reversion to traditionalism, but a way to blend long-standing Gikuyu practices with the aims for land and freedom in the 1950s.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Luongo, Katherine. “If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them: Government Cleansings of Witches and Mau Mau in 1950s Kenya.” History in Africa 33 (2006): 451–471.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/hia.2006.0017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Shows how the government used Kamba witchdoctors to “cleanse” the Mau Mau oath from adherents, as part of an attack on the supernatural that also involved cleansing witches of their powers in Kamba areas.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Women

                                                                                                                                                                              Women played active roles in Mau Mau as fighters, scouts, and food suppliers. Santilli 1977 was the first to draw attention to this previously unexplored participation, a theme Presley 1992 expanded and placed in the context of women’s activism in colonial Kenya. Readers can hear directly from the female participants themselves in Davison and the Women of Mutira 1989 and Otieno 1998. But Mau Mau also inspired discussion and debate over women’s roles in Gikuyu society, something that concerned both the British and Gikuyu men and women. Both Kanogo 1987 and Santoru 1996 address these themes.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Davison, Jean, and the Women of Mutira. Voices from Mutira: Lives of Rural Gikuyu Women. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                The life histories of a variety of women from Kirinyaga (Mount Kenya) district, interviewed in 1983 by Jean Davison. Some are former Mau Mau participants; all reflect on the ways that they have shaped—and been shaped by—historical forces and change during their lifetimes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Kanogo, Tabitha. “Kikuyu Women and the Politics of Protest: Mau Mau.” In Images of Women in Peace and War: Cross-Cultural and Historical Perspectives. Edited by Sharon MacDonald, Pat Holden, and Shirley Ardener, 78–99. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/978-1-349-18894-9_5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Begins by outlining female participation in Mau Mau, then analyzes how women’s success in the conflict challenged both traditional and colonial perceptions of their roles in Gikuyu society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Otieno, Wambui. Mau Mau’s Daughter: A Life History. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    The only account written by a female forest fighter. Otieno speaks to women’s participation in Mau Mau. The text includes a useful introduction by Cora Ann Presley.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Presley, Cora Ann. Kikuyu Women, the Mau Mau Rebellion, and Social Change in Kenya. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Focused on Kiambu district, Presley takes on Gikuyu women’s activism during the colonial era. In her discussion of Mau Mau, she describes women’s significant participation, explaining that the British could only “win” the war once they had detained thousands of village women, thus limiting their abilities to supply forest fighters.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Santilli, Kathy. “Kikuyu Women in the Mau Mau Revolt: A Closer Look.” Ufahamu 8 (1977): 143–159.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Suggests that women played a more important role in Mau Mau than was previously assumed. Santilli ties women’s activities in the conflict to a longer history of their roles in Gikuyu society, including the female presence in political protest from the 1920s, and in rural resistance from the 1940s to government-sponsored agricultural programs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Santoru, Marina. “The Colonial Idea of Women and Direct Intervention: The Mau Mau Case.” African Affairs 95 (1996): 253–267.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a007719Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          About colonial notions of Gikuyu womanhood, and colonial attempts to remake Gikuyu society and women’s roles in it during the Emergency, particularly in the detention camps.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Gender

                                                                                                                                                                                          For many men and women who participated in Mau Mau, the struggle was as much about creating an ordered society in which all could achieve “self-mastery” and success as it was about the British colonial presence. Appropriate gender relations sat at the core of this issue, as suggested in White 1990, an article focused on the forest fighters. Lonsdale 1992 expanded this notion in a foundational essay that is essential reading for any scholar of Mau Mau—and indeed African history—in which Lonsdale explains Mau Mau in terms of the Gikuyu “moral economy.” Lonsdale’s later chapter, Lonsdale 2003, introduces readers to some of these themes relating to gender in a more compact format. Peterson 2001 feeds these ideas into a discussion of Christian revivalists in the years before the Emergency, and Thomas 2003 places these debates in the broader context of Kenya’s colonial history.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lonsdale, John. “The Moral Economy of Mau Mau: Wealth, Poverty and Civic Virtue in Kikuyu Political Thought.” In Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya and Africa. Vol. 2, Violence and Ethnicity. Edited by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale, 315–504. London: James Currey, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Important work that (among other things) draws fissures in ordered gender relations in Gikuyu society—as a result of colonialism—into an explanation of Mau Mau.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lonsdale, John. “Authority, Gender and Violence: The War within Mau Mau’s Fight for Land and Freedom.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 46–75. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A careful analysis of how household issues relating to generation and social order played into Mau Mau. Folds Christianity, traditional Gikuyu marriage and sexual practices, reputation, and self-mastery into the conflict’s narrative.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Peterson, Derek. “Wordy Women: Gender Trouble and the Oral Politics of the East African Revival in Northern Gikuyuland.” Journal of African History 42 (2001): 469–489.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0021853701007964Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Reveals how men and women debated the chaos in gender relations brought about by landlessness in the 1930s and 1940s, which then fed into Mau Mau. Many converted to the East African revival as a way to better negotiate their circumstances in the face of pressure from Mau Mau fighters and traditional church elders.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Thomas, Lynn. Politics of the Womb: Women, Reproduction, and the State in Kenya. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores Kenyan colonial history through the lens of struggles over reproduction and sexuality. Thomas pulls together topics ranging from premarital pregnancy, to excision, to changing legal standards, in a framework that tells us much about British imperialism, colonial power, social ordering, and gender relations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • White, Luise. “Separating the Men from the Boys: Constructions of Gender, Sexuality, and Terrorism in Central Kenya, 1939–1959.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 23 (1990): 1–25.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/219979Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The first academic use of memoirs written by Mau Mau fighters. White shows how debates over appropriate conduct and behavior among men and women in Nairobi after 1939 were continued within the forests during Mau Mau, though Lonsdale 2003 disagrees with her argument about monogamy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Writing and Literacy

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Writing was a tool Gikuyu intellectuals used to a tremendous extent in the years leading up to Mau Mau. Their publications reflected a wide range of political ideologies, from the more moderate views expressed by men like Jomo Kenyatta and Henry Muoria to the more radical ideas that spilled from the pen of Gakaara wa Wanjau. Frederiksen 2006 and Pugliese 2003 provide a window into these post–Second World War materials. Once the forest war began, Mau Mau intellectuals continued to write. They debated the values and social order they desired, and challenged the bureaucratic ordering of colonial society, themes explored by Peterson 2003 and Smith 1998. In a key text, notable for its chronological breadth and deep analysis of Gikuyu texts, Peterson 2004 pushes these notions further to explore Gikuyu writing throughout the colonial period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Frederiksen, Bodil Folke. “‘The Present Battle is the Brain Battle’: Writing and Publishing a Kikuyu Newspaper in the Pre–Mau Mau Period in Kenya.” In Africa’s Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and Making the Self. Edited by Karin Barber, 278–313. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      About Henry Muoria, a writer and editor of the Gikuyu-language newspaper Mumemyereri, and a close associate of Jomo Kenyatta. The newspaper was a venue for debates about Gikuyu values, but largely written in a moderate, nationalist tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Peterson, Derek. “Writing in Revolution: Independent Schooling and Mau Mau in Nyeri.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 76–96. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Demonstrates how the widespread act of writing and record keeping in the forests permitted Mau Mau to memorialize their struggle and “imagine a sovereign state.” Also important in its exploration of the Gikuyu independent schools movement that was linked to Mau Mau’s origins.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Peterson, Derek. Creative Writing: Translation, Bookkeeping, and the Work of Imagination in Colonial Kenya. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Reveals how Gikuyu used texts ranging from biblical translations to political treatises to imagine and reimagine their social worlds under colonialism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pugliese, Cristiana. “Complementary or Contending Nationhoods? Kikuyu Pamphlets and Songs, 1945–52.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 97–120. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reveals the complexity and variety of Gikuyu (and Mau Mau) political thinking through an analysis of the wide range of political documents and songs published in the years leading up to the Emergency.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Smith, James. “Njama’s Supper: The Consumption and Use of Literary Potency by Mau Mau Insurgents in Colonial Kenya.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 40 (1998): 524–548.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S001041759800139XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              About the ways Mau Mau insurgents utilized the literary and bureaucratic trappings of colonial society to challenge its authority and redo social order in their own image.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Beyond the Gikuyu

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In recent years, scholars have begun to draw their analyses away from the Gikuyu and central Kenya to consider the impact and role of Kenya’s other ethnic groups in Mau Mau, as well as the influence of the war abroad. Osborne 2014 addresses the Kamba, a closely related ethnic group of the Gikuyu, who made up the bulk of the army and police forces. Aiyar 2015 takes on Kenya’s Indian community, while MacArthur 2016 looks to western Kenya, and particularly the Luyia people. Beyond the boundaries of Kenya, Ranger 2000 deals with the closely related settler state of Southern Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe), and Meriwether 1998 and Horne 2009 connect Kenya to the United States, and especially the African American community, many members of which were inspired by the conflict.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Aiyar, Sana. Indians in Kenya: The Politics of Diaspora. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Explores the middle ground occupied by Kenya’s Indian community. Some supported Mau Mau, whereas others disapproved or joined the security forces (chapter 4).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Horne, Gerald. Mau Mau in Harlem? The U. S. and the Liberation of Kenya. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1057/9780230101043Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Addresses the historic links between the United States (and particularly African Americans) with colonial and then independent Kenya.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • MacArthur, Julie. Cartography and the Political Imagination: Mapping Community in Colonial Kenya. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2016.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Explores the impact of the Mau Mau war in western Kenya, its relationship to the Dini ya Msambwa rebellion, and the role of colonial categories of loyalism and dissent in debates over ethnic identity, territoriality, and decolonization (chapter 6).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Meriwether, James. “African Americans and the Mau Mau Rebellion: Militancy, Violence, and the Struggle for Freedom.” Journal of American Ethnic History 17 (1998): 63–86.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Shows how Mau Mau was significant for African Americans. It inspired debate over the use of violence in the battle against white supremacy, as well as on the nature of leadership and action in the civil rights movement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Osborne, Myles. Ethnicity and Empire in Kenya: Loyalty and Martial Race among the Kamba, c. 1800 to the Present. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781107447714Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Reveals the participation of the Kamba ethnic group in Mau Mau, and explains the conflict’s effects on Kamba notions of gender, chiefship, and ethnic identity (chapter 7).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ranger, Terence. “The Reception of Mau Mau in Southern Rhodesia, 1952–1961.” In Trajectoires de libération en Afrique contemporaine: Hommage à Robert Buijtenhuijs. Edited by Piet Konings, Wim van Binsbergen, and Gerti Hesseling, 49–68. Paris: Karthala, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          About the impact of Mau Mau on Africans in southern Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe), and the role Mau Mau played in debates about nationalism in the colony.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Literature and the Arts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Even today, Mau Mau appears in literature and popular culture. The first major literary production about the conflict, Ruark 1955, played a significant role in creating the popular image of violence that became associated with the movement. These themes often appeared in Hollywood blockbusters, as Anderson 2003 shows. Likimani 1985 is a novel that explores the experiences of women during the Emergency. In Kenya, Mau Mau has often served as a vehicle for critiquing the government, and is also used to represent the ongoing battle for economic stability faced by the country’s poor. Ogude 2003 provides an overview of Mau Mau in Kenya’s literature since independence; Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the country’s most famous author, has done more to explore these themes than any other (see Thiong’o 1967, Thiong’o 1977, and Thiong’o and Mirii 1982). Finally, and demonstrating Mau Mau’s long reach, the novel Reid 1958 links the movement to decolonization in the Caribbean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Anderson, David. “Mau Mau at the Movies: Contemporary Representations of an Anti-colonial War.” South African Historical Journal 48 (2003): 71–89.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/02582470308671925Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Evaluates the three films made about Mau Mau in the 1950s (and shot on location in Kenya) against the narrative of the war’s history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Huxley, Elspeth. A Thing to Love. London: Chatto and Windus, 1954.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A novel written during the Mau Mau war by Kenya’s best-known European author. Huxley provides a sympathetic and balanced rendering of the conflict, attempting to understand both black and white perspectives. Though fictional, the novel is based on information gleaned from her decades of residence in the colony.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Likimani, Muthoni. Passbook Number F.47927: Women and Mau Mau in Kenya. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1985.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/978-1-349-17960-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Contains nine stories about the lives of women in Nairobi, the detention camps, and the enclosed villages during Mau Mau. Though a fictional account, it is based on the experiences of Likimani and her family and friends.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ogude, James. “The Nation and Narration: ‘The Truths of the Nation’ and the Changing Image of Mau Mau in Kenyan Literature.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 268–283. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Demonstrates how Mau Mau reflects—and relates to—the project of nation-building in Kenyan literature since independence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Reid, Victor Stafford. The Leopard. New York: Viking Press, 1958.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Novel by a prominent Jamaican author that connects Mau Mau to the struggle for liberation in the Caribbean.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ruark, Robert. Something of Value. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1955.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Blockbuster novel (and, in 1957, film) that tells the story of two childhood friends, Peter and Kimani. In the context of Kenya’s racialized colonial state, they grow up to participate on opposite sides of the Mau Mau war.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Thiong’o, Ngugi wa. A Grain of Wheat. London: Heinemann, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Famous novel set at the time of Kenya’s independence. Reflects the continuing impact of Mau Mau in the new nation as its characters struggle with the legacies of the past.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Thiong’o, Ngugi wa. Petals of Blood. London: Heinemann, 1977.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ngugi’s later novel reveals his disillusionment with the promises of independence. The novel suggests that the end of colonial rule brought little real political or economic change to the average Kenyan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Thiong’o, Ngugi wa, and Ngugi wa Mirii. I Will Marry When I Want. London: Heinemann, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A collaborative play written with the participants at the Kamiriithu Community Centre in Nyeri, and translated by the authors from Gikuyu. The play suggests that the memory of Mau Mau had been sacrificed by Kenyan elites who acted in the same manner as British colonialists had. The play led to Ngugi’s detention. First published 1976 as Ngaahika Ndeenda.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Memories and Legacies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After 1963, Kenya’s first president—Jomo Kenyatta—kept in place a colonial era ban on Mau Mau. But it did not mean that Mau Mau was excluded from the political arena; actors from Kenyatta to the Gikuyu gang-cum-militia named Mungiki—founded in the 1980s—have appropriated and used the memory of the war to serve their own aims. Readers might start with Clough 2003 for an overview, and then move on to Coombes, et al. 2014, a wide-ranging volume that brings the debate over Mau Mau and its memory up to the present. Lonsdale and Elkins 2005 studies the intersection between public memories of Mau Mau and deeply personal, individual recollections. Branch and Cheeseman 2006 provides a compact description of how the state itself remained largely unchanged by Kenya’s independence. Finally, Githuku 2016—a lengthy, erudite work—explains Mau Mau as the crucial moment in understanding the relationship between the Kenyan people and state today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Branch, Daniel, and Nicholas Cheeseman. “The Politics of Control in Kenya: Understanding the Bureaucratic-Executive State, 1952–78.” Review of African Political Economy 33 (2006): 11–31.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/03056240600671183Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Looks at the continuities between the late colonial and postcolonial states. The authors suggest that the “allies of colonialism and representatives of transnational capital” have remained in place, their hold on power unaffected by political independence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Clough, Marshall. “Mau Mau and the Contest for Memory.” In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration. Edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale, 251–267. Oxford: James Currey, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Takes a historical perspective to address the ways various groups have appropriated the memory of Mau Mau to make contemporary political claims since 1963.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Coombes, Annie, Lotte Hughes, and Karega-Munene. Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya. London: I. B. Tauris, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The most authoritative work on the multiple uses and manifestations of historical memory in Kenya. Highlights the contradictions between nationalist narratives of Kenyan history and the messy local memories of Mau Mau, particularly focusing on Kenyan museums and peace memorials.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Githuku, Nicholas. Mau Mau Crucible of War: Statehood, National Identity, and Politics of Postcolonial Kenya. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Explores Mau Mau as a pivotal moment in the longue durée of Kenya’s history. Demonstrates how the legacy of this struggle “from below” still repeats itself, a result of the continuities of the settler state today.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hughes, Lotte. “‘Truth Be Told’: Some Problems with Historical Revisionism in Kenya.” African Studies 70 (2011): 182–201.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/00020184.2011.594626Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Shows how Kenyans have debated the memorialization of Mau Mau in recent years, with different groups’ attempts to “rewrite history” in different ways and for different reasons.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lonsdale, John, and Caroline Elkins. “Ricordare i mau mau: Conflitti di memoria nel Kenya postcoloniale.” In Dopo la violenza: Costruzioni di memoria nel mondo contemporaneo. Edited by Alessandro Triulzi, 159–196. Napoli: L’Ancora del Mediterraneo, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        About the tensions between public and private memories of Mau Mau, and how they are still important in the contemporary nation-state.

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