By David Throup
“This is the first full–length study of Kenya’s post–war crisis, the seed–bed of Mau Mau. The scholarship is encyclopaedic, the writing sharp and the analysis clear. What we have is a tragedy in the classic sense, with passionate visions of the future held by rulers and people locked in a conflict which could only be resolved by violence.”
John Lonsdale, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge
This story of Kenya in the decade before the outbreak of the Mau Mau emergency presents an integrated view of imperial government as well as examining the social and economic causes of the Kikuyu revolt. Dr. Throup combines traditional Imperial History with its emphasis on the high politics of “The Official Mind” in the Colonial Office or in Government House with the new African historiography that concentrates on the people themselves.
Sir Philip Mitchell was the proconsul chosen to reassert metropolitan authority. Under Kenyatta’s leadership the Kenya African Union mobilized a popular constituency among the peasantry. In Nairobi the Kikuyu street gangs linked up with the militant Kikuyu trade unions, led by Fred Kubai and Bildad Kaggia, to challenge Kenyatta’s leadership.
The Mau Mau movement, as it was called by the government, was an alliance between three groups of discontented Kikuyu: the urban unemployed and destitute, the dispossessed squatters from the White Highlands and the tenants and members of the junior clans in the Kikuyu reserves.
The revolt was a dominating factor in convincing the conservative imperial government that the cost of repression in the African colonies was not worth the troops and resources.
David Throup is a Bye Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge and is Associate Professor of African History in the University of Virginia. More info →
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John Lonsdale says in his introduction: “This is the oral evidence of the Kikuyu villagers with whom Greet Kershaw lived as an aid worker during the Mau Mau ‘Emergency’ in the 1950s, and which is now totally irrecoverable in any form save in her own field notes.
This is a study of the genesis, evolution, adaptation and subordination of the Kikuyu squatter labourers, who comprised the majority of resident labourers on settler plantations and estates in the Rift Valley Province of the White Highlands. These squatters played a crucial role in the initial build-up of the events that led to the outbreak of the Mau Mau war.
This book uses the Kenyan political system to address issues relevant to recent political developments throughout Africa. The authors analyze the construction of the Moi state since 1978. They show the marginalization of Kikuyu interests as the political economy of Kenya has been reconstructed to benefit President Moi's Kalenjin people and their allies. Mounting Kikuyu dissatisfaction led to the growth of demands for multi-party democracy.