The Mau Mau Detention Camps: Rehabilitation, Propaganda, Memory

The Mau Mau Memorial erected in Nairobi in 2015. Image – Daily Nation.

Lauren Brown
University of Dundee

Kenya’s Mau Mau Uprising (1952-1964) was plagued with violence. The rebellion was the result of discontent with British colonial rule. When the British had arrived in Kenya, they stole land from the native population; among them, the Kikuyu people suffered most from this. As living conditions grew harder for the Kikuyu under British occupation, they began an aggressive campaign to fight back against British colonial forces.  To quell the rising violence and anti-colonial sentiment, the British created a system of detention camps to incarcerate thousands of the Kikuyu population. In these camps, prisoners were tortured, abused, and, in some cases, murdered.  

The events that transpired in these camps have long been hidden away from popular historical narrative though finally, the repercussions of this are reaching the British government. Continue reading “The Mau Mau Detention Camps: Rehabilitation, Propaganda, Memory”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

marchand Contemporary illustration of Major Marchand's trek across Africa. - See more at- http-::www.historytoday.com:sarah-searight:steaming-through-africa#sthash.hftqWHHQ.dpuf

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From revealing the sheer scale of British slave ownership to America’s colonial fiscal crisis, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Rhetoric and Imperial Decline: Arguing the Hola Camp Massacre of 1959

Richard Toye
Follow on Twitter @RichardToye

HolaMassacreTombstone
A mass grave in Hola is marked with a tombstone inscribed: “In loving memory of the 11 Mau Mau detainees massacred at Hola in 1959.” Their names are Kabui Kaman, Ndungu Kibaki, Mwema Kinuthia, Kinyanjui Njoroge, Koroma Mburu, Karanja Munuthi, Ikeno Ikiro, Migwi Ndegwa, Kaman Karanja, Mungai Githi and Ngugi Karitie.

On 3 March 1959, eleven Mau Mau detainees were beaten to death by their British guards amid an attempt to force the prisoners to undertake manual labour. What is now known as the Hola Camp Massacre has widely been seen as a seminal moment, one that undermined the legitimacy of the British Empire. In a celebrated Commons speech on the affair, Enoch Powell declared that it was not possible to have ‘African standards in Africa, Asian standards in Asia and perhaps British standards here at home […] We cannot, we dare not, in Africa of all places, fall below our own highest standards in the acceptance of responsibility.’

Yet it is intriguing to ask why this particular episode of colonial violence became a cause célèbre when previous comparable episodes of imperial violence (such as the Batang Kali killings in Malaya in 1948) had not. Continue reading “Rhetoric and Imperial Decline: Arguing the Hola Camp Massacre of 1959”