Sometimes CSSH articles fit together remarkably well. One would almost think they were written to each other, like intellectual greeting cards, or the correspondence of old friends. Such is the case with two recent essays by Stacey Hynd (62/4: 684-713) and Myles Osborne (62/4: 714-744). Here’s how our editors characterized them:
INSURGENT YOUTH The ranks of insurgencies are mostly filled by the young. The youth take to the streets and barricades more readily than do the aged, the propertied, and the established. Insurgencies depend on youth not only for their energy and hope, but also for the ways “youth” indexes the future, and presents a visage of innocence that seems relatively untainted by the stains and debris of historical wrongs. Yet insurgency can also be forced upon the young, even onto the fragile shoulders of children. The sources, networks, and reasons for recruitment are too often less than clear.
In “Small Warriors? Children and Youth in Colonial Insurgencies and Counterinsurgency, ca. 1946–1960,” Stacey Hynd explores how young insurgents are recruited and mobilized. Comparing Kenya and Cyprus in the 1940s and 1950s, Hynd shows that while some youth were coerced into armed rebellions, others joined of their own will. Teenaged warriors brought needed numbers but were especially valued for the ways they symbolized innocence and hope, helping to catalyze broader support for the movement.
Myles Osborne’s contribution also leads us to Kenya. In “‘Mau Mau Are Angels … Sent by Haile Selassie’: A Kenyan War in Jamaica,” Osborne examines the impact of Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising as the news of it circulated in Jamaica during the 1950s. The Mau Mau insurgency inspired Rastafari and other young and mostly poor Jamaicans, who saw it as a form of pan-Africanism much like Marcus Garvey’s. This version of Black Power in the Caribbean reveals intellectual frameworks developed by subaltern youth, and transnational circuits of pan-Africanism that formed even without direct contact or diffusion.
CSSH: We enjoyed reading your papers together. The overlaps in approach give incredible richness to the local insurgencies and global cultures of resistance you describe. Even more pleasant was learning that the close fit was as uncanny for you as it was for us. It wasn’t exactly a coincidence, but it’s fair to say you didn’t see it coming! Continue reading “Youth against Empire”→
As the world shakes under the weight of the Black Lives Matter movement, many are turning to black history to understand the roots of the ingrained racism plaguing modern society.
Britain has a dark, racist history buried beneath the sanitized stories of empire perpetuated through the historical narrative and further via the curriculum presented to its school children.
One such history is that of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya – a violent and controversial part of both Kenyan and British history. In reaction to the violence of the rebellion, the British colonial government created a system of detention camps which saw the incarceration of some 80,000 Kikuyu people in Kenya. Within the camp system detainees were aggressively interrogated, thousands were subjected to horrific abuse and several inmates lost their lives. Many Kikuyu still face the repercussions of the uprising to this very day.
Encapsulated within the history of the Mau Mau rebellion is the story of Dedan Kimathi, the self-titled field marshal of the anti-colonial forest fighters. He was executed by the British after a short career of anti-British ‘terrorism’. Continue reading “Dedan Kimathi: 63 years of injustice”→
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.
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.’