Mau Mau


Mau Mau

Mau Mau

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Mau Mau movement of Kenya was a nationalist armed peasant revolt against the British colonial state, its policies, and its local supporters. The overwhelming majority of the Mau Mau fighters and of their supporters, who formed the passive wing, came from the Kikuyu ethnic group in Central Province. There was also representation in the movement from the Embu, Kamba, and Meru ethnic groups. In addition, available evidence shows that some individual members of the Luo, Luyia, and even Maasai ethnic groups participated in the revolt as well.

Most of the Mau Mau guerrillas were young men and landless peasants. Some of these peasants had lost land to corrupt chiefs and other landed gentry in Central Province, while others were victims of land appropriation carried out to enable European settlement. Repatriated African squatters from the white farms in the Rift Valley fueled the ranks of the guerrillas, as did the economically desperate and unemployed Kikuyu in Nairobi and the surrounding urban centers. During the postWorld War II period, there was massive African unemployment in the urban areas of Kenya, along with very poor housing (or no housing at all) and high inflation.

Among the Kikuyu, the embrace of a radical political posture was symbolized by taking the oath of unity with and allegiance to the Mau Mau movement. This oath, initially administered at Kiambu in 1950, was supposed to inject courage into those who were initiated (Edgerton 1989). It was also supposed to be administered to as many Kikuyu as possible. By July 1952 a new oath, the Batuni oath (platoon oath), was introduced. This was a warrior oath and it marked a further radicalization of the Mau Mau, which still remained an underground movement. When the colonial government, in a panic, declared a state of emergency in October 1952, the Mau Mau were not yet prepared to launch an all-out armed revolt. This started in earnest only after the declaration of a state of emergency, and the arrest and detention of most of the major African political leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta, Fred Kubai, Bildad Kaggia, and Ramogi Achieng Oneko.

Throughout the revolt, the Mau Mau guerrillas referred to themselves as the land and freedom army. This description indeed summarized the revolts principal causes, which were both economic and political. Scarcity of land, especially in Central Province, remained a major African grievance against the colonial government and white settlers. Hence, the attainment of fertile land, which signified general economic welfare and prosperity for African families, was a major objective of the revolt. To this must be added the demand for vastly expanded opportunities in education, training, housing, and employment. Politically, the Mau Mau guerrillas remained steadfast in their demand for Kenyas political independence from Britain. The Mau Mau movements political objectives and even its ideology did not differ from the aims and objectives of the mainstream political independence party, the Kenya African Union (KAU); both sought political freedom (Uhuru ) and the restoration of African dignity. From 1944, when it was formed, until 1953, when it was banned, KAU was the preeminent African political organization in Kenya. Its formation represented the first attempt at territorial nationalism, and also the most prominent legitimate political outlet for Africans (Maloba 1993, p. 51). Still, KAUs political agitation did not lead to any remarkable victories. By 1947 none of its leaders, including Kenyatta, expected Kenya to achieve its political freedom during their lifetime.

One of the distinguishing features of the Mau Mau is that it remains perhaps the only major nationalist revolutionary movement to have been led almost entirely by peasants, many of them illiterate. The movement had no external sources of political or material support. Even the British government arrived at this conclusion, having determined that the Soviet Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, had not provided any help whatsoever to the revolt or even established any verifiable contacts. The movement also lacked any propaganda machinery to spread its message beyond Central Province. Together with the British government in London, the colonial government in Nairobi took advantage of this weakness, and launched a harsh and effective propaganda campaign against the Mau Mau and Kenyan nationalism. The revolt was portrayed as irrational, and as a reversion to primitive savagery by Africans traumatized by the stress of modern (Western) civilization. The British government firmly maintained the position that the revolt was not caused by economic conditions, but rather an organized criminal enterprise. In this propaganda offensive, a lot of emphasis was placed on the oaths taken by the supporters of the revolt; almost routinely, many of these oaths were described as bestial. It is this image as a senseless, savage, murderous enterprise that would haunt the Mau Mau for many years to come. In the West, major newspapers and magazines carried stories on the Mau Mau that reinforced British propaganda. Robert Ruarks Something of Value (1955), a novel read widely in Britain and the United States, also echoed official propaganda by contrasting white heroism with black savagery.

For four years from October 1952 to 1956, the Mau Mau guerrillas operated from the forests of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. Although they were outgunned throughout the duration of the revolt, these guerrillas fought with singular courage and determination against the combined forces of the colonial governments army, British troops, and the Home Guards (paramilitary units of local Kikuyu/Embu/Meru people supporting the colonial governments military and political objectives against the Mau Mau fighters and their objectives). One of the most celebrated leaders of the Mau Mau was Dedan Kimathi, who was based in the Aberdares, and who sought, in 1953 and 1954, to establish some unity among the various guerrilla units operating in the forests. These efforts did not succeed, and as a result the Mau Mau never had an overall leader or commander.

In response to the revolt, the British government undertook a major rehabilitation campaign in Central Province in order to remake Kenya by defeating radicalism and reinforcing the power of the conservative Kikuyu landed gentry and the Home Guards. Members of these groups would emerge triumphant in the post-emergency period. The rehabilitation campaign was carried out in the detention camps and even in the Kikuyu reserve. Its objective was to get the detained and arrested Kikuyu to renounce the Mau Mau and its radicalism. Christian religious indoctrination, sanctioned by the colonial government, played a major role in the rehabilitation process.

Although defeated militarily, the Mau Mau revolt was clearly instrumental in forcing the British government to undertake immediate political reforms. These reforms included the reinstatement of African political parties in 1955, and then the promulgation of several constitutional reforms that eventually led to the attainment of political independence on December 12, 1963.

The legacy of the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya remains a very complex and controversial subject. The controversy revolves around the following issues: What role did the revolt play in the decolonization of Kenya? Did Mau Mau bring Uhuru ? Who benefited from Uhuru, the Home Guards and their descendants or the actual Mau Mau supporters and fighters? Was the Mau Mau a Kikuyu affair or a national movement? And lastly, how should this very complex movement be remembered in Kenya?

SEE ALSO Anticolonial Movements; Colonialism; Decolonization; Guerrilla Warfare; Kenyatta, Jomo; Kimathi, Dedan; Liberation Movements; Nationalism and Nationality; Peasantry; Propaganda; Protest; Resistance; Revolution; Terrorists; Violence; Violence, Frantz Fanon on

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anderson, David. 2005. Histories of the Hanged: Britains Dirty War and the End of Empire. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Barnett, Donald L., and Karari Njama. 1966. Mau Mau from Within: Autobiography and Analysis of Kenyas Peasant Revolt. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Berman, Bruce, and John Lonsdale. 1992. Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya and Africa. London: James Currey; Nairobi: Heinemann Kenya; Athens: Ohio University Press.

Buijtenhuijs, Rob. 1982. Essays on Mau Mau: Contributions to Mau Mau Historiography. Leiden, Netherlands: African Studies Center.

Clayton, Anthony. 1976. Counter-Insurgency in Kenya, 195260: A Study of Military Operations against Mau Mau. Nairobi: Transafrica Publishers.

Edgerton, Robert B. 1989. Mau Mau: An African Crucible. New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan.

Elkins, Caroline. 2005. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britains Gulag in Kenya. New York: Henry Holt.

Furedi, Frank. 1974. The Social Composition of the Mau Mau Movement in the White Highlands. Journal of Peasant Studies 1 (4): 492502.

Gikoyo, Gucu G. 1979. We Fought for Freedom. Nairobi: East African Publishing House.

Kanogo, Tabitha. 1987. Squatters and the Roots of Mau Mau, 190563. London: James Currey; Nairobi: Heinemann Kenya; Athens: Ohio University Press.

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

W. O. Maloba

Show all research tools

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mau Mau." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mau Mau." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045301486.html

"Mau Mau." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045301486.html

Learn more about citation styles

Mau Mau

Mau Mau (mou´ mou´), secret insurgent organization in Kenya, comprising mainly Kikuyu tribespeople. They were bound by oath to force the expulsion of white settlers from Kenya. In 1952 the Mau Mau began reprisals against the Europeans, especially in the "white highlands," claimed as Kikuyu lands. The settlers retaliated and non-participant Kikuyu were killed by the Mau Mau. Jomo Kenyatta and other nationalist leaders were imprisoned. By 1956, however, British troops had hunted down the Mau Mau in the mountain forests. Most leaders were captured and executed. Later the entire Kikuyu tribe was resettled within a guarded area. The state of emergency decreed (1952) in Kenya was ended in 1960 and Kenyatta was released; he subsequently became prime minister (1963) upon independence, and president (1964) when the country became a republic.

See study by D. Branch (2009).

Show all research tools

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mau Mau." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2014. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mau Mau." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2014. Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-MauMau.html

"Mau Mau." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-MauMau.html

Learn more about citation styles

Mau Mau rebellion

Mau Mau rebellion. The violent, grass-roots resistance movement launched by the Kikuyu and related ethnic groups against the British colonial government in Kenya in the 1950s. It had its origins in the sense of deprivation felt by the Kikuyu, who had lost much of their land to white settlers. However strong their resentment towards white domination, most educated Kikuyu were anxious to avoid military confrontation. The movement consequently lacked high-quality leadership and failed to win support from other ethnic groups within the colony. Its defeat when confronted by trained soldiers and police, though protracted, was inevitable.

Kenneth Ingham

Show all research tools

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

JOHN CANNON. "Mau Mau rebellion." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

JOHN CANNON. "Mau Mau rebellion." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-MauMaurebellion.html

JOHN CANNON. "Mau Mau rebellion." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-MauMaurebellion.html

Learn more about citation styles

Mau Mau

Mau Mau Anti-colonial terrorist group of the Kikuyu of Kenya. In 1952, after repeated attacks on Europeans, Britain declared a state of emergency and drafted in troops. Within four years, the conflict claimed c.100 European and 2000 anti-Mau Mau Kikuyu lives. More than 11,000 Mau Mau died before the state of emergency ended in 1960. Kenya achieved independence in 1963, and elected Jomo Kenyatta, a reputed former member of the Mau Mau, as its first prime minister.

Show all research tools

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mau Mau." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mau Mau." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-MauMau.html

"Mau Mau." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-MauMau.html

Learn more about citation styles

Mau Mau

Mau Mau an African secret society originating among the Kikuyu that in the 1950s used violence and terror to try to expel European settlers and end British rule in Kenya. The British eventually subdued the organization, but Kenya gained independence in 1963. The term is Kikuyu, and is probably an application of mau-mau used to describe voracious devouring.

Show all research tools

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "Mau Mau." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "Mau Mau." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O214-MauMau.html

ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "Mau Mau." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O214-MauMau.html

Learn more about citation styles

Mau Mau

Mau Mau •Mau Mau

Show all research tools

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mau Mau." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mau Mau." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2014). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-MauMau.html

"Mau Mau." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-MauMau.html

Learn more about citation styles

Facts and information from other sites