Atrocities in Kenya: A Review of David Anderson’s Essay Essay

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This paper is a book reappraisal refering the force n Kenya in the late fortiess and 1950s. Kenya is comparatively alone in the anti-colonial literature because of the Mau Mau motion. a bloody and violent religious order that sought to chuck out the every bit bloody British from Kenya. This work is critiqued and praised in bend. finally neglecting because of its deficiency of comparative intervention. No converting analysis on the singularity of the Mau Mau is offered. There are no guiltless victims: colonisation brutalizes coloniser and settlement likewise. That is the thesis of this book reduced to one sentence.

It is rare that anti-colonialism in Africa is done without force. But some of the worst types of force were found in the Mau Mau rebellion after World War II in Kenya. This paper will be a reappraisal of one of many recent plants on this rebellion. its causes and its effects on Kenya and Africa. This reappraisal will be divided into three parts. The first is a general description of the anti-colonial rebellion and its causes. The 2nd will be a description of the major issues. both theoretical and practical. the book raises. and in conclusion. by manner of decision. a general review of the methods and basic attack of the writer. I.

The Mau Mau Rebellion: Some Basicss Colonialism in Kenya took on the same colouring that colonialism takes throughout the universe. the Gallic in Algeria. Jews in Palestine. the English in Ireland. Colonialism is the domination of an imperium over the native civilization of the colonized. In bend. it gives rise to elitism in multiform ways. First. in the creative activity of the domination itself. where the metropole bit by bit imposes itself ( particularly economically ) on the colonized. deformation is created. Second. it creates a colonist civilization where a little group of privileged immigrants from the metropole take up abode in the colonised state.

These colonists take a big portion of the economic green goods of a state and make great bitterness. Making affairs more complicated. these colonists remain citizens of the female parent state. and therefore. this latter is dedicated to protecting them from the effects of their predatory behaviour. At the same clip. these colonists take on the most hawkish and troublesome point of position relative to the colonized population. demanding greater and greater military force to be applied to the colonized.

Third. the metropole normally promotes stalwarts ( or at least centrists ) of the colonised population into places of power in order to ease the regulation of the metropole over the colonised peoples. Kenya. of class. had all three of these elements. The British settlement in Kenya was economically exploitatory. created a white colonist motion ( the Kenyan Highlanders ) and created a corps of “chiefs” who were wages and were granted big piece of lands of land in return for their trueness.

All three of these elements must be taken earnestly in all signifiers of anti-colonial agitation. for they work together: normally. the concentration of economic wealth is connected to both the metropole’s laterality. the foreign elite and the local elite. Hence. there is a multi-variate war happening at each and every measure of the anti-colonial battle. In Kenya. the chief plus was land. and. particularly after World War II. land to turn java and chocolate. the two major Kenyan exports. This land was dominated by both the local elite and the foreign elite ( 9-12 ) .

After World War II. the economic battle grew ferocious ( 17ff ) . This economic battle was fueled by the coffee-boom that took off after the war. and white colonists raced to claim more and more land. even outside f the colonial administration’s control. The colonists. like the Gallic in Algeria. developed a life of their ain. still demanding the protection of the metropole. More and more of the Kikuyu land was brought under white cultivation. and the “chiefs” were brought in with greater powers to hopefully maintain this folk under control.

The Kikuyu was an elect folk. possibly a little less than a 3rd of the full population. who made up the dominant local category of husbandmans and merchandisers. They had prospered in the early old ages of British business. but began to slowly acquire squeezed out of their farms and concerns as white colony expanded after the war ( 21ff ) . The Kikuyu. in other words. were shortly to get down engaging a war of independency for economic motivations. as a agency of acquiring back what they had lost to the colonist motion and to take advantage of the west’s apparently eternal demand for java and cocoa ( 31ff ) .

Basically so. the state of affairs by the late 1940s expressions like this: the once elect Kikuyu folk has lost much of its early elite position. Its land has been taken by colonists. and colonists have created an substructure of both dehumanisation and local control that needs to be broken for the folk to resile back. Both population force per unit areas and colonist control are coercing rewards down. and more and more once independent husbandmans are now renters of the colonist population and their local elites. As a consequence. several motions developed. as described by the writer on pages 12-15.

First. the conservativists. these were made from what was left of the Kikuyu elite. big husbandmans and business communities. and a fraction of the missional motion. The moderate patriots will finally be the victors in this battle. as their spokesman becomes the celebrated Jomo Kenyatta ( ”the visible radiation of Kenya” ) . these are the in-between category and the majority of the missionaries. Last. the hawkish patriots. represented finally by the Mau Mau rebellion. who. in mast instances. were the black patriots and the more or less anti-Christian forces in the state.

The implicit in causes of the rebellion were several. but the writer concentrates on two major 1s: the land reform battle and the battle over the pattern of female Circumcision. The first is at the bosom of the economic battle. The centrists formed under the Kikuyu Association ( similar to the Irish Land League ) that demanded a rational land reform that would return profitable land to African control. The demands were comparatively moderate. but were refused by the British governments partly due to the force of the colonists. who would hear of no such thing ( 27ff ) .

This was bad plenty. but the argument over female Circumcision brought a cultural border to the battle. The pattern of female Circumcision had been practiced in east African society for a long clip. It was supported by the majority of the population. but most missionaries and elites had loathed the pattern. and it was used frequently to asseverate the high quality of European values over African 1s ( 20-21 ) . The nationalist motion of both wings supported the pattern. giving more of a push to the radical motion.

While the centrists had failed at land reform ( which is the truly efficient cause to the Mau Mau force ) they gained rather a spot in the defence of the pattern of Circumcision of females. While Kenyatta is in expatriate. his presence is still felt in Kenya. Ultimately. this adult male will come out of the anti-colonial battle as the first native political leader of the state since colonisation. He rejects the usage of force and the tribal divisions in the state. He rejects the ulterior Mau Mau rebellion. but has no job in profiting from it.

He believes in a multiracial society and racial tolerance ( 333-336ff ) . He. while under British onslaught for must of his radical old ages. becomes the “moderate” the British were trusting for. Nevertheless. his persecution by the colonial governments at the insisting of the colonists was highly counterproductive. The rebellion lasts throughout the fiftiess. and sets the criterion for other ulterior African rebellions. Hence. several issues develop within the existent force. Given the divide and regulation tactics of the British. the state is both tribally and economically split.

Religion besides plays a function here. Once elect Kikuyu are removed from the land and even homesteaders are removed by force. There is a little elite and largely Christian component of the Kikuyu folk that is under onslaught from the more hawkish component of the rebellion. and this will be the premier mark for the Mau Mau in such atrociousnesss as the Lani Massacre ( 126ff ) . The Lani onslaught led to the deceases of approximately 300 stalwarts. pro-British ( or at least moderate ) Africans who sought to utilize the all-black place guard to support their colony against the Mau Mau. nevertheless ill armed they were.

In some ways. the slaughter was a warning to the cautious ( similar to Irish IRB force against suspected stalwarts ) . in others. to derive entree to British arms. Both were successful. and the centrists. while finally successful. were really much afraid ( 130-155 ) . Ultimately. the Mau Mau will kill far more Africans than Whites. as merely a few twelve colonists are finally killed. Nevertheless. while the Mau Mau was inferior in arms and tactics. they had finding. stamina and. most of all. public support ( Anderson’s analysis of “General China” is informative in this respect. californium.

233-240 ) . Hence. the divisions in Kenyan society make the rebellion far more hard. and the British. while slow to react at first. finally prosecute in every bit much ferociousness as the Mau Mau. which is the existent topic of this book. In other words. the British used the Mau Mau as an alibi for force and dehumanisation ( 95-99 ) . The book is really good written. and one of the chief grounds for this is that Anderson is capable of utilizing both local issues and broader contexts both individually and together. as the juncture permits.

Local inquiries such as the methods of the Jack Scott violative. the bizarre patterns of “Bwana. ” or the tests of the Mau Mau themselves are woven into a grander narration of economic disruption. subjugation. cultural cleavage and position alterations. Hence. the book can be used by ethnographers every bit good as historiographers. Furthermore. the writer. unlike many in this field. seeks to be every bit dispassionate as possible. a method which. truth be told. assists the basic thesis here. that the British simply used Mau Mau force to cover up their ain.

The “Jack Scott” offense will put the tone for the British response to the Mau Mau ( californium. 62-68 ) . Anguish. mass imprisonment and a refusal to cover with the root causes of the rebellion show great similarities to Ireland. something this referee saw throughout the book. Jack Scott. so called. Acts of the Apostless as the “black-and-tan” motion in the British colonial military personnels in Ireland. In other words. the doodly-squat Scott attack is to assail. kill. and maim one’s manner to dominance. As in Ireland. this attack backfired. specifically in doing a jeer of the moderate supplications for peace.

But the ( literally ) colourful Bwana ( David Drummond ) shows the lengths that the security services went to assail the revolutionists ( californium. 87-90ff ) . Painting himself brown. traveling to every imaginable length to run down Mau Mau leaders is included in this narrative non merely to give it some colour and state a really interesting narrative. but to demo the force of the British as contested and compared with the Mau Mau. II. Major Issues The basic chronology of the rebellion is truly non the intent of the book. or this reappraisal.

The broader point is to convey up the issues that make sense out of the rebellion. its utmost signifiers of force and the British response. While the list here might be considered arbitrary. this list is meant to supply the basic theoretical and tactical points the book brings up in order to explicate and genuinely understand this rebellion. 1. The Mau Mau. while no uncertainty violent to the extreme. was as much responding to British aggravation as anything else. For a long clip. the British imperativeness was loaded with atrociousness narratives that both justified the imperium every bit good as dehumanized the resistance to it.

The British position. really of import to Anderson. was that both the Circumcision issue every bit good as the Mau Mau was cogent evidence that the British mission was merely: to convey civilisation to the barbarians ( 95-100. besides 125ff ) . 2. The white colonist civilization was the great accelerator for the British force. Settlers. such as in the Gaza Strip. Algeria or Ulster. are frequently the most hawkish of the colonial outlook. They would non give up anything. and were the existent cause of the force. since it was their edacity that led to the British refusal of land reform and the economic monopoly of the two great Kenyan exports.

At the same clip. this foreign oligarchy distorted Kenyan development to such an extent that it was easy to associate economic corruption with national aspirations. This is an immensely powerful theoretical component of the book: colonialism is about non-cognizable without the being of such an oligarchy. 3. The British. at the beginning of the rebellion. put up a concentration cantonment system for the captives of war. doing the state of affairs far worse than it had to be. By the mid 1950s. there were approximately 70. 000 members of the Kikuyu folk detained without test ( 297 ) .

Sometimes these were ominously called “re-education” cantonments reminiscent of communist “corrective labour camps” every bit good as the British attempted extinction of the Afrikaners in 1900-1901. The onslaught on this latter people argues against the platitude “racial” reading popular in the literature in this field. and in fact. one can reason that the concentration cantonments for the white Afrikaners were the first usage of a systematic and scientific signifier of “re-education.

” In many ways. the moral high land that the British imperium had won in get the better ofing the Nazis and ( at this clip ) contending the Communists was washed off with the disclosures of these cantonments and their villainous intent. 4. Nothing is every bit absurd as the test of Kenyatta himself. a moderate. The test. as Anderson notes. be the British a solid 20. 000 lb payoff. doing a jeer out of the already rigged test system. Anderson notes that of the initial set of 3000 Mau Mau put on test. about 1000 were hung in one of a series of mass hangings ( californium.

173 ) that permitted the rebellion to take nastier and nastier bends ( 152 ) . Beatings and anguish were regular at these tests. and “informants” were frequently lying. settling tonss. or merely being bribed or threatened. 5. It remains nevertheless. that the Mau Mau can non be romanticized. It is possible that they may hold maintained the high land. but since the majority of their attempts were against more moderate members of their Kikuyu folk. they lost this high land. Ultimately. it was Kenyatta and his followings who successfully claimed the moral mantle of national release.

The great strength of this book is that. unlike some others. it does non seek to romanticise the rebel motion. but realistically see the strengths and failing of both sides. Colonialism does non simply ache the colonized. but it brutalizes the colonisers every bit good. Anderson suggests throughout the book that the Mau Mau were non simply an agent of national release. but in fact. opposed to the traditional signifier of African leading as good: the captain system uniting spiritual with political authorization.

They seem to be a extremely modern patriot group seeking a modern Kenya based on industry and socialism. non the traditional agricultural motions of the moderate wing. The work here is critical in the best sense of the term. Anderson does non cut down this narrative to a morality drama between conquered and conquest. There is no “innocent victim. ” All are victims. If the thesis of the book can be reduced to a sentence. that would be it. III. Decision: A Critical Appraisal The work’s greatest strength is its evenhandedness. But the basic thesis of the book. that no 1 is guiltless in such wars. makes perfect sense.

If no 1 is guiltless. if offenses are committed all about. so it would necessitate an writer to be evenhanded. The posterities of colonists are non morally blameworthy for their colony. and therefore can non be judged on such footings. The racial angle is cheerily played down. Given that the British imperium every bit brutalized the Irish and Afrikaners ( the former for a far longer period of clip ) the racial statement dissolves. It may hold been successful in mobilising American and British inkinesss in the sixtiess. but it does non suit the form of British colonialism. where race means nil. net incomes and power. everything.

It seems from this book. and others on British colonialism. that a “white” individual was person who supported the purposes of the Empire. regardless of skin colour. The racial angle here is both irrelevant and exceptionally platitude. And it is a major strength of the work that it is mostly avoided. Second. the emphasis on the tests is another major strength here. The basic chronology of the rebellion can be gleaned from Wikipedia. so to reiterate it is excess. What is more of import is motive. of perceptual experiences. and this is the chief strength of the work overall.

Two things seem to linger: foremost. that political political orientation did non affair. but faith did. In fact. when one completes this book. one comes off with the thought that one of the most of import variables for foretelling which Kenyan would be on what side of the divide is faith. Christians were either conservativists or moderate patriots. as the Mau Mau sought to recapture some version of a pre-colonial faith. Third. the economic component of the events is stressed. This is of cardinal importance and the book ( and truly any intervention of such rebellions ) would be unpointed and inexplicable.

The rebellion finds its efficient cause. a cause that adequately explains the rebellion. in the gradual disenfranchisement of the elect Kikuyu people. The planetary economic system is skilfully brought into the image in that the spike in the java monetary values was sparked by the war. and subsequently turned into a Continental dependence. This is the cause of the pickings of more and more once native land under colonist cultivation. taking to a land hungriness and a renter husbandman position for the majority of the Kenyan population regardless of folk.

Hence. the theoretical account is: planetary economic accommodation ( the war ) . taking to local accommodations and a new motivation for net incomes. and in conclusion. these in bend adequately explicating and accounting for the unfastened force of the rebellion. Fourthly. there is a spread in this work. a spread that is extremely apprehensible. and this is the nature fo the Mau Mau. While other rebellions in Africa did non bring forth such a group. Kenya did. Be it possible to do a analogue between the Maroons of Jamaica and the Mau Mau? Were the basic economic conditions present? Can all of this be reduced to coffee? And what of the immense American market?

While American java nuts went to Latin America for their brew. could this intense competition have anything to make wit the strength and inflexibleness of the colonist motion in Kenya? Furthermore. the dissatisfactory deficiency of analogue with Ireland irritated this referee. About all the conditions were the same in both states: population force per unit area. land hungriness. an elect colonist population. hideous intervention of Rebels. dehumanisation. the “civilizing mission” myth. spiritual high quality. individual harvest dependance. and many other variables make the parallel about resistless.

It should hold been included. But even further. there is no parallel with the Mau Mau in Ireland. and even the Defenders do non suit the measure. for as the latter was a secret society. they had no secret rites and ghastly inclinations like the Mau Mau. Even still. a clear analogue between the Mau Mau and Defenderism could hold been made for the interest of a scientific control variable. but was left out. Leaving the reader with an prosecuting but non-comparative and hence non-scientific intervention of the topic.

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