Emergency In Kenya: Kikuyu And The
Mau Mau Insurrection
SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues
Table of Contents
Historical and Cultural Background 6
The Religious Nationalists 42
Emergence of Mau Mau 46
Mau Mau Religion 57
Events Building to the Emergency 63
Operation Jock Scott 74
Jock Scott Aftermath 76
Security Forces 78
Command and Control Reorganization 82
Enemy Situation 86
Mau Mau Terrorism 88 Mau Mau Terrorism 88
Large Scale Mau Mau Operations 90
A New War, A New Choice 94
A New Command and An Offensive Strategy 97
Surrender Nepotiations-Operation Wedgewood 101
Operation Anvil 103
The FinalThrusts 106
Author: HUGHES, Roger D., Major, U.S. Marine Corps
Title: Emergency in Kenya: Kikuyu and the Mau Mau Insurrection
Publisher: Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Date: 2 April 1984
This text reviews the history, customs and religion of the Kikuyu tribe
of East Africa, while tracing their social and political development,
recession and resurgence under the impact of British colonialism from 1887
to 1952. During that 65 year period, the Kikuyu were intruded upon by an
uninvited 20th Century European culture totally alien to their own; yet they
quickly seized upon the key to that which they called the white man's magic,
his educational opportunities, then thrust themselves headlong into the 20th
Century and all the madness of the times. It was no smooth transition from
the ancient culture into the new. Rather, it was initially like a mad,
blind sprint by the younger generation into the future, leaving their recent
past far behind them and forgotten, before they realized that the future was
not prepared for their surge, and they were unprepared to maintain the pace.
An attempt is made in this text to reveal the frustration and
resentment which mounted within an eager and anxious people, as their
expectations of a leading position in the new culture were unfulfilled.
Those young men who initially raced forward the fastest became the most
frustrated and sought revenge.
The Mau Mau movement is usually viewed strictly as being politically
motivated toward national independence. The less popular view is endorsed
herein, that two separate, multi-facited movements existed, one motivated by
nationalism, and the other by a blind, irrational quest for revenge. In the
process of each attempting to exploit the other for self-serving purposes,
they became uncontrollably intertwined, which resulted in near disaster for
the Kikuyu tribe.
Totally lacking in quality intelligence regarding the origins of Mau
Mau at the outbreak of hostilities in 1952, colonial forces struck out
blindly to suppress the violence and treated the movements as one. Thus,
the Military resolution is traced through 1956, when the preponderance of
hostilities were finally suppressed in what seemed at that time more like an
intra-tribal civil war than a war of independence.
WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR
Emergency in Kenya
Kikuyu and the Mau Mau Insurrection
Major R. D. Hughes
2 April 1984
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
Emergency In Kenya: Kikuyu and the Mau Mau Insurrection
In 1948 the British Colonial Administration in Kenya began receiving,
compiling and filing reports from African and European sources throughout
the central region of Kenya, concerning a secret African movement called Mau
Mau. That same year, the Director of Intelligence and Security submitted a
report linking the Mau Mau movement to the Kikuyu Central Association1
(KCA), a tribal organization dedicated to political and labor activism,
which had been declared illegal and banned in 1940. Rumors of secret oath
taking ceremonies and associated rituals of black magic became more frequent
as the year progressed, and reports of oaths being forcibly administered to
unwilling subjects were abundant by year's end.
In 1949 the Colonial Administration enacted Section 62 of the Penal
Code,2 proscribing the administration of unlawful oaths. Nineteen
defendants were convicted under Section 62 shortly after enactment, but
released on appeal due to technical errors in the proceedings.3
In 1950, leading politicians of the Kikuyu tribe were reported to have
taken the Mau Mau oath at a place known as Banana Hill,4 and the same year,
KCA leaders were prosecuted for administering an unlawful KCA oath.
Meanwhile, political clashes and labor disputes became highly evident in and
around Nairobi, including various minor labor strikes and a major general
strike by African workers, which brought Nairobi to a virtual standstill for
its duration. On 4 August 1950, the Colonia Governor declared Mau Mau an
illegal society and 141 arrests were made, mainly in the Central and Rift
Valley Provinces. As a result thereof, 120 convictions were handed down on
charges of Mau Mau membership.5
By 1951, the labor government in the United Kingdom acknowledged to
some degree that a problem existed in the Kenya Colony, and Colonial
Secretary James Griffiths went to Kenya to decide upon appropriate
constitutional changes.6 Jomo Kenyatta, a former KCA senior official and
current President of the Kenya African Union (KAU), presented Secretary
Griffiths with a list of grievances, and a petition containing four KAU
demands. The demands (paraphrased) were: (1) abolition of color bar, (2)
government aid for African farmers, (3) free trade union activity, and (4)
political representation for Africans, in terms of 12 elected African
members on the Colonial Administration's Legislative Council (instead of the
currently allowed four nominated African members who required approval by
the Colonial Governor). All four demands were ignored.7
January 1952 was the first time that offical reports acknowledged Mau
Mau oathing ceremonies taking place in Nairobi. Prosecutions for Mau Mau
membership in Nairobi were first carried out in February. Ever since Mau
Mau reports were first received from Province and District Commissioners in
1948, the central colonial administration in Nairobi had disregarded and
discredited them as overstated, exaggerated and alarmist in nature.8 The
Colonial Governor, Sir Philip Mitchell, was acknowleded throughout the
colonial service as the foremost authority on African affairs and African
people, both among his own administration and among the London service.9 It
was his opinion, generally stated, the Africans were a primitive lot, who
could be expected to dabble in oaths and black magic ceremonies, and nothing
particularly out of the ordinary was taking place.
During February there were many reports of European crops and
grasslands being burned.10 Thereafter, an increasing number of reports
cited Africans loyal to the British Colonial Administration being
intimidated into taking Mau Mau oaths.11 May marked the opening of a
campaign of terror. Government appointed Kikuyu "chiefs" who refused to
take Mau Mau oaths had their houses burned, and many loyalist Africans were
murdered, mainly in Nyeri District of the Central Province. By June,
reports revealed that the May Mau oaths were changing in character and
content: that is, the procedures were becoming more bizarre, and the
commitment imposed no longer required more loyalty to causes, but now
required specific violence and murder.12
Nevertheless, Governor Mitchell continued to maintain that no major
problem existed as a threat to the colony's internal security. Dispite
prodigious evidenceto the contrary, and near violent demands from the
European settlers for government military action; the governor acknowledged
no need for extraordinary security measures to be taken.13 He conducted
business as usual, applying time worn colonial era bandaids to massive
social, cultural and political hemorrhages right up to the time of his
departure on 30 June 1952. On that date he left Kenya to begin two months
of authorized terminal leave with pay, preceeding his retirement. Because
the British Colonial Service at that time could not justify paying two men
for the same job, the now governor did not arrive in Nairobi until 28
September. The colony was left without a Governor for nearly three
Meanwhile, the colony's General Secretary filled the void, at least in
name, as Acting Governor. There was a pronounced reluctance on his part to
diviate from proceedings established by the outgoing governor, without first
allowing the new governor to assess the situation and establish his own
policy. In the event that the new governor might choose to continue in the
ways of his predecssor, any drastic changes in the interim would have been
highly disruptive administratively and bureaucratically.15
Sir Evelyn Baring was sworn in as the new governor on 30 September
1952. He conducted an immediate ten day tour of the colony, after which he
submitted a report to London, recommending that a State of Emergency be
declared in Kenya as soon as possible,16 and requesting additional military
forces. In the meantime, the Legislative Council, "approved emergency
measures restrcting the movement of Mau Mau members, controlling the press,
requiring registration of societies with 10 or more members and increasing
penalties for sedition."17
On 20 October, Governor Baring signed the order proclaiming a state of
Emergency. That evening, twelve Royal Air Force Hastings aircraft began
arriving in Nairobi under the cover of darkness, carrying the Lancashire
Fusiliers in from the Suez Canal Zone.18 Shortly before midnight, police
began a roundup of over 100 political agitators and suspected Mau Mau
leaders, including KAU president Jomo Kenyatta and many other prominent KAU
Nairobi citizens awoke on the morning of 21 October to find a British
Army battalion (Lancashire Fusiliers) patrolling the streets, especially the
African sectors, in a show of force. The governor made a radio broadcast
that day, announcing that a State of Emergency had been declared. The
colony's Territorial Force (the Kenya Regiment) and the Kenya Police Reserve
were ordered to report for duty, and nearly six battalions of the King's
African Rifles (KAR) were placed on standby to support police operations.20
Thus began the government's campaign to suppress Mau Mau insurrection
and terrorism, four years after the first official reports warning of Mau
Mau were received. It is remarkable that after a ten day tour of the
colony, Governor Baring recognized as being dangerous, the same situation
that Governor Mitchell chose to regard as being overstated, even in the
writing of his memoirs after the Emergency ended.21
The facts seem to testify that insurrection, even formation of the Mau
Mau movement itself, might have been avoided altogether. At the very least,
their mainfestations might have been tempered by degree, through simply acts
of human sensetivity and justice during various periods in the colonial
history of Kenya. Further, it appears that once the movement began, the
colonial administrative government took far too long to recognize its
existence, and longer still to acknowledge its significance. As a result,
it appears that the government was ill prepared to deal with the situation,
when, at the eleventh hour, insurection appeared imminent. Apparently, the
military option was the only option available by the time, but intelligence
did not exist in sufficient quantity or quality to support efficient
military operations for nearly two years. The threat was poorly defined in
terms of leadership, organization, size and intent. What began as an efort
to suppress a general revolution of independence against the government
ended as a police action to quell an intra-tribal civil war.22
Historical and Cultural Background
It could be said with justification that the emergency, which was
finally declared by the British Colonial Administration in the fall of 1952,
actually reached emergency proportions much earlier. In fact, the emergency
had roots as deep in time as the beginning of this century.
The region now known as Kenya was colonized in the 8th century by
Arabs, but not until late in the 19th century was European colonization
introduced. In 1887, a fifty year concession to the territory was granted,
by the Sultan of Zanzibar, to an entity which later became the Imperial
British East Africa Company.
Under the terms of the General Act of Brussels, Great Britain agreed to
construct a railway in East Africa, leading from the coast toward the
continent's interior, for strategic military purposes.23 The engineers who
surveyed the right of way for the railroad were among the first Europeans to
make contact with the interior tribes, and their presence was considered to
be territorial encroachment.
The Imperial British East Africa Company established a trading post in
1890 at a place called Dagoreti, in an area traditionally occupied by the
Kikuyu tribe. That post was repeatedly attacked and twice destroyed by
Kikuyu warriors during the following eighteen month period. In 1892, Fort
Smith was built four miles deeper into Kikuyu territory. Fierce fighting
ensued between the British and the Kikuyu tribe during the years 1892 and
1893, but treaties were made shortly thereafter, and peaceful relations
developed for a while.24
The Kikuyu tribe were people of relatively peaceful nature. They were
agriculturally oriented, and had possessive feelings toward the land that
supported them. The various tribes of the area had long ago established
claims upon rather specific land areas, and they understood that to invade
another tribes's land was to invite war. The Kikuyu naturally saw the
intrusion of the railway construction crews, the traders of the British East
Africa Company and the soldiers of the British crown as an invasion of their
territory and a threat to their existence. But after the initial
differences were worked out, and it appeared that the railroad right of way
would not impose significant threat to their life style, the Kikuyu resigned
themselves to the British presence.25
The more warlike Masai, living in the vicinity of the Kikuyu, were
another story altogether. Although they were well known for their love of
battled they had no deep-seated attachment to their land. Unlike the
sedentary Kikuyu, the Masai were herdsmen who migrated from one grazing area
to another. The British were quickly successful in buying off the Masai,
and transplanting them to another area, away from the railroad right of
In 1895, the British government purchased the Imperial British East
Africa Company's rights and established a protectorate in Kenya. The
Protectorate included a coastal strip, ten miles wide, which existed under
"suzerainty" of the Sultan of Zanzibar. For this coastal strip, the British
government paid an annual fee to the Sultan, who was also under British
protection. The Protectorate arrangements also included treaties with many
African native tribes, as well as with Germany, which had extensive
neighboring colonial interests in eastern Africa. Many of the native
treaties have been compared to that negotiated by Stuyvesant in his
The British Foreign Office appointed Sir Charles Eliot as the first
High Commissioner of the Protectorate. He has been characterized as a
scholar-diplomat, who spoke several languages fluently, and who had
published books on the subject of Finnish grammar and the history and
philosophy of the Ottoman Empire. He was known as an opponent of big game
hunting (a popular attraction to that area among rich Europeans), and in
fact, opposed violence in any form. More significant to the history of
Kenya than his academic credits or humane attitude toward animals, was his
inflexible doctrine for administration of the protectorate. He set an
enduring precedent for the future colony as, "a white man's country in which
the interests of the European must always be paramount."28 His attitude was
typical of his time, still living in an imperial era, characterized by a,
"basic Victorian conviction of moral duty to civilize the resident
population." This duty was fashionably referred to as, "the white man's
burden." In Eliot's words, "The uncivilized natives should be civilized by
the proximity and example of the settlers; by conversion to Christianity; by
being taught to know their place and accept the status of a docile and
compliant wording class."29
Lest this writing be interpreted as merely a crude, retrospective
indictment of British policy, it should be pointed but that such attitudes
were prevalent among many colonial nations, world-wide. Africans, Asians
and Indians of both North and South America have been hapless recipients of
similar doctrine. Furthermore, the long-term, adverse effects continue to
manifest themselves today in various degrees, feeding the roots of
insurrection in many parts of the world.
The following is a quote relating to Sir Charles Eliot, taken from the
diary of Colonel Meinertzhagen, then a Captain in the Kings African Rifles,
dated 1902: "He amazed me with his views on the future of East Africa, He
envisaged a thriving colony of thousands of Europeans... He intends to
confine the natives to reserves and use them as cheap labor on farms. I
suggested that the country belonged to Africans, that their interests must
prevail over the interests of strangers. He would not have it; he kept on
using the word 'paramount' with reference to the claims of Europeans. I
said that some day the Africans would be educated and armed; that would lead
to a clash. Eliot thought that that day was so distant as not to
matter...but I am convinced that in the end the Africans will win, and that
Eliot's policy can lead only to trouble and disappointment. "
Britain's railway to the continent's interior came to be known as the
Uganda Railway. It took five years to build, at a cost of five and one half
million pounds, and stretched from Mombasa on the coast to Lake Victoria in
Uganda.30 The construction cost was a burden which the British hoped could
be recouped by the railway itself, but it was clear that the primitive
economy of the natives would not be sufficient alone. Europeans were
encouraged to settle in the protectorate, with promises of inexpensive,
fertile land and government support for economic growth. The British
government had other reasons for opening East Africa to settlement, not the
least of which were the desire to deny Germany absolute control of the area,
and the desire to stamp out the slave trade which flourished there. From
1900 to 1910, there was significant immigration of white settlers into the
Kenya potectorate, especially around Kabete, Limuru, Kiambu and Nairobi.31
Because of the mobility provided by the Uganda Railway, many of the
European settled adjacent to it, especially in the fertile central
highlands, later to become known as the White Highlands. Some of the
unoccupied land, which they claimed, belonged to Kikuyu tribesmen, who had
temporarily evacuated the area. A series of disasters had beset them,
including locust infestation, famine, rinderpest invasion and a smallpox
epidemic. Few Kikuyu remained in the area throughout the disasters, and
vast areas of previously cultivated land were quickly reclaimed by the
equatorial vegetation. The occupied lands which the settlers desired, was
paid for according to European custom; however, Kikuyu customs differed
considerably from those of the Europeans. The settlers thought they had
purchased the land. The Kikuyu intended only to lease it; their religion
prohibited its sale to non-tribe members. When the Kikuyu attempted to move
back onto their land in later years, the first major conflict between blacks
and whites occurred, and continued as an issue of contention and distrust
for decades thereafter.32
During the first decade of the 20th Century, the mass immigration of
European settlers was vertually unchallenged by the African people. As
mentioned, disease and pestilence had nearly decimated or driven off the
major populations of Kikuyu and Masai in the central highland region, and
the remainder were brought off under less than satisfactory terms.33 The
major battle during that period was waged between the settlers and the land
itself. The land offered vast potential in terms of space, climate and soil
fertility, but it also presented to the Europeans the same disease and
pestilence which drove out the native population. The settlers fought this
battle largely by trial and error, at tremendous investment cost, as crops
and animal stock died off and had to be replaced. Wild animals foraged in
the cultivated fields at night, and often destroyed acres of grain in one
night's feeding. Insects and draught sometimes wiped out entire harvests.
Pedigree breeding cattle, imported from Europe at great expense, were
attacked by fever. Worms contracted from wild animals, foot rot and
unidentifiable grubs which attacked the eyes killed off sheep by the
hundreds. The lives of the settlers were plagued by continual heartbreak
and ever increasing debt.34 But, consistent with the dauntless spirit of
pioneers throughout history, the settlers hung on and won the long-term war
eventually, though many battles were lost in the process.
Early in the decade, these pioneers established a Settler's
Association, a quasi-political organization. Partly dedicated to cooperatie
farming methods and the sharing of lessons learned in the war with the
environment, the Settler's Association was most significant as a political
lobby, representing settler interests to the administrators of the
protectorate, as well as to the Foreign Office and Parliament in Great
Britain. Many of the early wettlers were of aristocratic heritage, and had
influential connections in London. One such aristocrat was Hugh
Cholmondeley, the Third Baron Delamere. He had made several big game
hunting expeditions to the protectorate and fell in love with the land as a
result. Bored with his official duties in Cheshire and London, Lord
Delemere decided to settle in the Highlands. He and his wife lived in grass
huts for several years, before his farming venture afforded him sufficient
profits to erect a European style farmhouse. Reputed in England for his
eccentric outbursts, Lord Delemere's sudden decision to pioneer in Kenya
surprised few, and his continued eccentricity in the frontier made him one
of the most colorful, as well as influential, of the early settlers. His
profits grew handsomely after many setbacks, and he became the owner of
numerous small businesses, as well as the only hotel in Nairobi prior to
World War I. He played an important role in making the voice of the
Settler's Association heard, and together with High Commissioner Sir Charles
Eliot, he was instrumental in molding the protectorate into a society where
"white supremacy" prevailed over all, and the European settlers' interests
As usual in European colonization scenarios, the settlers were
accompanied by well-intentioned missionaries. dedicated to converting the
backward people of the world to Christianity. But their good intentions
created many problems, especially among the Kikuyu people, who were not
nearly so backward as the missionaries presumed. In fact, the Kikuyu were a
highly advanced civilization within their native environment. The British
were so preoccupied with their colonial, economic self-interests, their
doctrine of white supremacy and their 20th century, European standards of
morality, that they failed to recognize "civilization," except in the terms
of their own, parochial definition.
The Kikuyu tribe was organized into a number of autonomous clans, which
traced from common male ancestors. Additionally, they were organized in a
matrix fashion by age sets, which cut across the clan. Age sets were
defined by the year in which adolescents were initiated into adulthood; as
such, they organized people into initiation year groups. Rather than being
grouped strictly by age, the sets were based more upon physical and
emotional maturity. Age sets progressed together through a series of phased
or levels in he Kikuyu social order, taking on new roles and
responsibilities at each level. The male age sets moved through a series of
ranks, from junior warrior to senior elder. Tribal leadership was provided
by the elders, exercising their power through councils of elders, and as the
oldest set died off, they were replaced by the next eldest set without
reference to family lineage.36
Similar organization existed among other African tribes of the area,
without any overall, unifying authority over them, beyond the tribal
leadership. Nevertheless, inter-tribal marriage and trade existed among the
tribes, and for the most part, inter-tribal relations were peaceful. The
exceptions were armed raids for cattle and other economic goods.37
predominantly during hard times brought on by environmental conditions.
Kikuyu clans were further subdivided into subclans, or Mbari, which
were again subdivided into polygamous families. While the Mbari were
regulated by concensus among the members of the councils of elders, families
were ruled indisputably by the fathers. "These lineage groups (clans,
subclans, and families) were the custodians of the Kikuyu land, religion and
law. Traditionally, there were no other institutions for these
purposes."38 The Mbari councils of elders regulated the allocation of land
within their territory, which was occupied by constituent families. The
Mbari councils were required to approve all land transactions. Ownership of
land could not be transferred to anyone outside the clan. Only after a
ceremony of mutual adoption into the clan, a religious ceremony marking out
the boundaries in the presence of witnesses, and the express sanction by all
members of the owning family could ownership be transferred.39 The warrior
age sets were the guardians of law and order.40
The most solemn event in the life of a Kikuyu was the ceremony of
initiation into adulthood. Selection took place shortly after puberty, and
the selected members of an initiation group formed a sort of "club for
life." A week of ritual preparation preceded the formal ceremony of group
circumcision, including women as well as men.41
Sex education of Kikuyu young adults was thorough. Copulation and even
kissing on the lips were prohibited before marriage, although unmarried
couples were permitted to spend the night together, under very rigid rules
of procedure. Birth control was taught early and strictly enforced after
marriage. Circumcision of the clitoris greatly reduced female pleasure
during copulation, and partial penetration techniques, as well as
observation of monthly cycles, kept pregnancies under control. Women were
forbidden to become pregnant before they finished weaning the previous
child; therefore, a "one child every three years," maximum was imposed.42
Polygamy was the norm in Kikuyu society, and provided many benefits.
Men were allowed to have only as many wives as they could efficiently
support, and each wife rated her own hut. Polygamy enabled a family to have
more children than otherwise would have been possible under the one child
per three years rule, especially given the high rate of infant mortality.
Polygamy ensured that there were no surplus spinsters, unable to support
themselves, and ensured there were no neglected widows. The wives of
deceased men were taken in by the next senior brother of the deceased.
There were no uncared for children, because the other wives took up the
responsibilities when a mother died or became incapacitated. There was no
prostitution, no adultery, there were few of the emotional and physical
maladjustments commonly suffered by more "civilized" people.43
Kikuyu religion developed in three layers. The first layer centered
aound Ngai, the all highest father figure, the anthropomorphic god. Ngai
lived on the mountain tops, expecially Mount Kenya. Ngai created the land,
and he created the tribe itself through the creation of Gikuyu and Mumbi,
the Kikuyu equivalents of Adam and Eve. Ngai gave the land to Gikuyu and
Mumbi, and to all their descendants, a belief which tied the people
irrevocably to the land. This steadfast belief disavowed European claims of
land ownership, and caused those claims to remain a contested issue for
decades. Ngai was an ubiquitous, invisible spirit from which there could be
no hiding, and angry god requiring sacrifices and elaborate rituals. There
was an amazing similarity between this level and Old Testiment Hebrew
The second layer of Kikuyu religion relates to the spirits of deceased
ancestors. While they, too, were considered ubiquitous, their official
domain was the hearth of the home, beneath which they were buried, and from
which their permanent presence eminated.
The third and final layer of the Kikuyu religion deals with worship of
the spirits of the forest. The Kikuyu associated these spirits with
waterfalls, streams, isolated rocks and strangely shaped trees; e.g. the
wild fig tree presented a much favored sacred place. In effect, this level
represented an integration of themselves with the forest, long recognized as
their protector in times of trouble.44 As briefly mentioned previously, the
Kikuyu were not a warlike people, yet were not always able to avoid war.
They were periodically raided for economic goods by the Masai, Kamb and
Samburu tribes. For generations, it was their practice to live in or close
to the forest,to which they could withdraw in self-defense. There they had
learned to fight smart, using stealth and cunning to evade and defeat a
stronger enemy. This ability was an early indication of their
intelligence, and their application of wit over power, militarily.45
Deeply ingained in the practice of their religion, especially in the
third layer, was the use of magic and the ritual of oath administration.
Magic was commonly employed to heal the sick, or to induce love or
purification. Medicine men often demanded an oath of secrecy from their
subjects, to prevent disclosure of the magical procedures the subject may
have witnessed. Oaths were commonly used in more routine practices as well,
including judicial proceedings, land transactions, purification rites and
initiation ceremonies. The taking and upholding of oaths had strong
religious reinforcement. Significantly, the entire body of religious belief
and practice, which encompassed virtually all of their traditions and
cultural law, required collective, rather than individual, action and
responsibility.46 To break an oath could mean death at the hands or the
will of Ngai, or ancestral spirits, or the spirits of the forest. To break
ancient tradition would invite punishment or censure by one's entire age
set, because it reflected badly upon them all, and likewise upon the family
and the Mbari, and the clan. Collective peer pressure was a powerful
influence in their lives, which kept their society in order.
The traditional value system of the Kikuyu placed strong emphasis upon
collective loyalty to family, clan and age set, and subordination of the
individual. As suggested previously, there was a strong relationship
between the extended family (the Mbari, or subclan) and their land, which
was simultaneously a source and symbol of spiritual and material support.
The age set progression system ensured that no Kikuyu would remain always in
a subordinate status, but would rise with his peers. Likewise, no age set
could maintain its superior status indefinitely, and no single family
lineage could rise to power.47
In total, the Kikuyu tribal organization was extremely well suited to
their environment, highly developed structurally to support complex
interrelationships on multiple social levels, and strictly disciplined to
maintain order and stability within the system. Though illiterate, and
primitive by European standards, the Kikuyu were highly intelligent, and
advanced by African standards. After having their social system totally
disrupted by the European intrusion, and thereafter having an irrelevent and
incomplete replacement system too rapidly thrust upon them, it is small
wonder that the Kikuyu tribe eventually became the reactionary core of
The early missionaries found it difficult to dispell the complex,
well-ordered religious beliefs of the Kikuyu. The Church of Scotland
established a mission at Thogoto, the Church Missionary Society set up at
Kabete, and the Catholic White Fathers founded Saint Austin's, near the
future site of Nairobi.49 Although the Kikuyu were highly suspicious of any
stranger, "they were impressed by these red men, as they called them, from
British lands. One of their ancient prophets fortold the advent of red men,
who would bring them a great iron snake." To their way of thinking, the
iron locomotive, pulling a string of cars up the long hills through Kikuyu
territory, represented something too similar to fulfillment of the prophecy
to be ignored. They witnessed many manifestations of the red man's
technological "magic," and their desire to learn the associated skills drew
them to the missions. Initially, they had no desire to replace Ngai with
the God of the missionaries, but the mission schools offered much that they
did desire. The Kikuyu took the lead among the African tribes, in the
realization that education was the secret behind the "magic," and that
medical facilities and hygiene services were equally valuable.50
Once drawn into the mission schools, many were truly persuaded of the
goodness of the Christian faith, and a large number were actually converted
to Christianity. A number of others only nominally professed a faith in
Christ, in order to reap the educational benefits, even though they did not
truly believe in, or approve of, the religious teachings and
proscriptions.51 For instance, the missionaries taught that it was wrong to
be naked, to wear dyes and oils, to perform tribal danced and to fight other
tribes. All these things were acceptable under the precepts of the Kikuyu
religion, and were common practices throughout their history. Futhermore,
the missionaries declared that female circumcision, polygamy and birth
control (all of which were fundamental to the Kikuyu religion and the very
existence of their culture) were mortal sins. Eventually, atendance at the
mission schools became conditional upon the students' promises not to
participate in these practices, as well as other acts deemed repugnant by
the missionaries. Yet the Africans were encouraged by the missionaries to
wear stylish European clothes, and were taught that it was virtuous to work
for Europeans, to earn money, to pursue profits and to accumulate personal
wealth. These concepts placed emphasis on individual achievement and
distinction, concepts in direct conflict with deep-seated Kikuyu religious
beliefs and social practices.52
The conflict between tradition and the new teachings of the
missionaries caused more severe social upheaval among the Kikuyu than among
other tribes. For example, many Kikuyu religious ceremonies, including
worship and sacrifice to ancestral spirits, required the presence of all
male family members. Absence of even one son or brother invalidated the
ceremony. But once a youth professed Christianity, the missionaries would
not permit him to participate in what they termed, "heathen sacrifices."
Therefore, hostile fathers, shunned by their convert off spring, often
disinherited and disowned their sons, after which their absence from
ceremonies did not matter.53 Thus began the breakdown of the most basic
unit of their society, the family, and the eventual decay of their culture.
The following is another prophetic exerpt from the diary of Captain
Meinertzhagan of the Kings African Rifles, dated 1904:
I am sorry to leave the Kikuyu... they are the most
intelligent of the African tribes I have met; therefore,
they will be the most progressive under European guidance
and will be more suseptible to subversion activities. They
will be one of the first tribes to demand freedom from
European influence and in the end cause a lot of
The second decade of the twentieth century saw European settlers
turning the tide in their battle with the environment. The hardiest
settlers' efforts were rewarded by profits, while the weaker ones quit, sold
out and departed. The sons of the survivors stood to inherit large estates,
for which their fathers and they had labored hard and long. They developed
a vehement possessiveness toward the land that they had converted by hand
from wilderness into bountiful farmland.
The same period saw the Africans of the Kenya Protectorate adjusting as
best they could under British influence. Some would say they benefited
greatly from the medical and hygienic services and education they received
from the British. Perhaps this was so. Many Africans learned to speak
English and to perform rudimentary mathematics. Hopes were raised for them
to eventually take part in the European prosperity that was beginning to
blossom. Some found employment on European farms and in European
settlements as laborers, servants, cooks and occasionally as clerks.
Others would argue that the African reaped few benefits and suffered
many ills of cultural breakdown at the hands of the self-serving British
settlers and administrators. Their religious beliefs and traditional values
were brought into question, and families became divided among themselves.
Several tribes, especially the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru had been alienated from
an undetermined portion of their traditional lands. Native lands that
remained uncontested by white settler claims were designated as native
Reserves for tribal habitation. The British administration of law and order
proscribed the traditional occupation of the African male as a warrior;
therefore, traditional division of labor between men and women resulted in
the men being either unemployed or relegated to doing "women's work."
Settler demands for farm labor grew larger as their homesteads grew, but
their demands remained largely unfilled, because routine agricultural work
fell into tha African category of "women's work." Clerical and commercial
jobs were unavailable to Africans, because those trades were dominated by
the better educated and long-time established Asian population.
Suddenly all colonial progress and prosperity halted. World War I
pitted British against Germans even in Africa. Farmers and merchants were
called away from their vocations, and Africans, too, were enlisted in the
Armed Forces, mainly in the Carrier Corps. African casualties during the
war totalled 1,700 killed in action, and 45,000 killed by disease.55 Aside
from the casualties, the most significant impact of the war upon Africans
was that for the first time, Africans saw Europeans killing each other.
That was contrary to the teachings of the European Missionaries, and
surfaced many questions in the minds of the Africans, such as the value of
the "white man's magic" and the whole idea of "white supremacy."
Additionally, there was resentment over the fact that the African men were
primarily employed as carriers, and denied the traditional warrior role.
The primary focus of African resentment after World War I were the
labor registration system and the taxation policies instituted by the
protectorate administration. These were urged upon the administration by the
Settlers' Association, in an attempt to mobilize the unemployed male African
population into a productive work force.56 The tax policy included both a
head tax and a hut tax. The hut tax served a dual purpose, intending not
fly to force men into the wage labor market in order to pay the tax, but
also to discourage polygamy. The policies gradually forced movement into
towns and onto European estates, and in turn, stimulated African demand for
consumer goods, such as European clothing. African men were forced to
abandon their families and strike out alone, because they had insufficient
money to move their entire family. Eventually, mass movement to the towns
created a severe housing shortage, and even those who were able to save
enough money to move their families, were unable to secure adequate
accommodations. The towns and young cities began to develop slum areas at
an alarming race, rural family life degenerated due to increased paternal
absence, and traditional socialization processes, customs and beliefs
In 1920, the East African Protectorate of Kenya was formally upgraded
to the status and title of Kenya Colony. That same year, Kenya's Africans
established their first political voice. The language it spoke was Kikuyu,
and the first words uttered were, "Give us back our stolen lands."58 This
was the slogan of the Young Kikuyu Association, YKU, founded by Harry Thuku.
The young Kikuyu political activists found their existence in Nairobi nearly
intolerable, and recognized that conditions could be significantly altered
only through political action. In 1922, while Thuku was leading "a
relatively innocuous protest against African wage reductions, a trigger
happy policeman opened fire on a crowd at Nairobi Station..."59 A riot
resulted, and an undetermined number of Africans were killed. Thuku was
deported and imprisoned on charges of conducting activities dangerous to
peace and good order, and the Young Kikuyu Association was outlawed.60
Eugene H. Miller, Ph.D., author of "Political Parties and Interest Group,"
published as Section II of Chapter 2 of Preconflict Case Study 5, Kenya,
presents a different account of Thuku and the YKA on pages 100-101 of that
...the Kikuyu Association (formed) in 1920...was concerned
primarily with the defense of the Kikuyu land. . .The
second African interest group, the YKA...was concerned with
the grievances of the laborers...Harry Thuku attacked two
changes...introduced in 1920: the requirement...to carry
a...registration card...and the doubling of the hut tax and
poll tax...On the ground that a prayer issued for Thuku
introduced an element of religion which might lead to a
dangerous situation, the Chief Native Commissioner ordered
Thuku's arrest in March 1922 and deported him as 'dangerous
to peace and order. ... His organization was proscribed and
went underground. While Thuku was temporarily held in a
Nairobi prison, thousands of his supporters gathered
outside the jail and threatened to free him by force. The
British fired on the crowd, 25 Kikuyu were killed, and
Kenya had its first nationalist martyrs."
It was around this same time that Jomo Kenyatta began his political
career, which was to have far reaching, long-term impact on Kenya's
political evolution. Kamau Wa Ngengi was born in 1890 in the vicinity of
what later became known as the Kiambu District of the Kikuyu Reserve. He was
educated at the Church of Scotland Mission, near the settlement named
Kikuyu, and baptized with the Christian name Johnstone Kaman. In the early
1920's he changed his name to Johntone Kenyata when he became an active
member in Harry Thuku's political party, the YKA. "Kenyatta" in the Kikuyu
language, literally translates to "beaded belt," but it is believed that he
chose that name principally because of its similarity to his country's name.
He did not asume the name "Jomo" Kenyatta until 1938, when he published his
book entitiled Facing Mount Kenya. The book was produced from his
anthropological thesis, written while he was a student at the London School
Soon after the YKA was oulawed in 1922, it was replaced by the Kenya
Central Association, founded by Joseph Kangethe. Most of the YKA activists
joined the ranks of the KCA, including Kenyatta, who became a KCA officer in
1925, and its General Secretary in 1928.62
Meanwhile, the KCA held public meetings and rallies, seeking to
organize all politically minded Africans establish an influential political
voice, and bring about improved social, economic and labor conditions for
Africans. At the same time, the colony's Asian community, numbering
approximately 40,000, organized themselves and made their own bid for
political representation in the administration's legislative council. The
Asians had already achieved dominance in the mercantile affairs of the
colony, and their economic influence carried enough impact to win them
In 1923, the British government issued a landmark restatement of
colonial policy, which became known as the 1923 White Paper. Following is
an exerpt from that document, which identifies its main thrust:
Primarily, Kenya is an African territory, and Her Majesty's
Government think it necessary definitely to record their
considered opinion that the interests of the Afican natives
must be paramount, and if and when those interests and
the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the
former should prevail.63
Nearly a quarter of a century after Sir Charles Eliot and Lord Delamere
proclaimed the doctrine of white supremacy and paramount European interests
in Kenya, the British Colonial Office reversed their proclamation. But the
1923 White Paper could not reverse the precedent they had set in the minds
and attitudes of the settler population. Early in the second decade (circa
1911), the Settler's Association had established the Convention of
Associates, nicknamed the Settlers' Parliament, which thereafter represented
their united interests in the Legislative Council.64 Since its inception,
the settlers' political aim was to gain full control of the administration
of the territory. Although full control was never achieved, the settlers
did achieve significant administrative control, did preserve their interests
in all areas relative to the land and labor issues, and did successfully
oppose the native development issues which were supported by the colonial
adminstrative officials and missionaries.65 Those trends were not visibly
changed by the 1923 White Paper. Not until 1944 did the Africans achieve
representation of any kind in the legislature--one nominee, whose nomination
could be rejected by the Governor--two decades after the Asians were granted
The African political activities of the 1920's did succeed in gaining
the attention of the administration, but the Africans made no substantial
political gains. Instead, their activities stimulated further pressure on
the administration, by the European settlers, to control the African
disturbance. In 1925, the administration suppressed the Kikuyu elders's
replacement cycle.66 In an effort to gain better control over the native
tribes, and to maintain continuity of that control, the administration
appointed native chiefs to rule the tribes. The appointed chiefs were
usually chosen from among the tribal elders, but were always chosen on the
basis of loyal cooperation with administration policies. Once appointed,
they could not be periodically replaced by the age set progression system,
and replacement was allowed only upon administrative approval.
1928 was a significant year in Johnstone Kenyatta's political career.
As previously mentioned, he became General Secretary of the Kikuyu Central
Association. That same year he founded his political newspaper entitled
Mwigwithania, through which he did much to awaken the political
consciousness of his fellow Africans. Still and again, the central issue to
which the people could be rallied was that of the stolen lands. The third
major event of the year was the mandate urged upon him by the KCA to
represent the Association in London. Early the following year, he arrived
there (at KCA expense) to present a petition of Kikuyu grievances to the
Colonial Office. The major complaints listed therein included land
alienation, government interference with tribal customs, and lack of
representation on the Legislative Council. The proper approach, from the
Colonial Office's point of view, would have been for the KCA to present the
petition to the colonial administration in Kenya. Instead, it was
Kenyatta's intention to present the petition, in person, to Secretary of
State for the Colonies Whitehall. He "got little further than the outer
Kenyatta's first stay in Europe lasted eighteen months, during which
time he traveled extensively, was invited into many social circles as a
popular cocktail circuit attraction, and consequently became well known and
well connected with influential political figures. He wrote several
political articles, including a letter published in the London Times, joined
the Communist Party, and twice traveled to Russia. He was forced to borrow
money for his trip home when the KCA money ran out in 1930.68
Around the time of Kenyatta's first return to the colony, the issue of
religion was coming to a head among the Kikuyu converts. The missionaries'
condemnations of female circumcision and polygamy were the chief causes of
dissention. The missionaries had gone so far as to require their converts
to sign a pledge, to not permit their daughters to be initiated, as a
condition to maintaining full membership in the mission churches. By Kikuyu
custom, women were not eligible for marriage unless they had been initiated.
Likewise, converts were required to abandon all their wives but one, and
breakdown of the traditional family system became progressively more severe
in consequence. By this time, educated Kikuyu were dedicating themselves to
the study of the bible--from cover to cover. Nowhere, therein, could they
find any written prohibition of polygamy or female circumcision.
Futhermore, they found numerous references to principal Old Testiment
characters having multiple wives and endorsing circumcision, though no
specific reference to female circumcision was found. Even Saint Paul was
quoted, "circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing." They
questioned, therefore, why prohibition of these ancient customs should be
imposed as preconditions to full membership in the Christian church. As a
result, many Kikuyu enlisted in a movement to establish independent
Christian churches. outside the influence of the European missionaries. The
major establishments were the Kikuyu African Orthodox Church and the Kikuyu
independent Pentacostal Church, although many smaller churches were founded
as well. These independent churches were initially founded upon the basic
precepts of Christ, as interpreted by the Kikuyu scholars.69 Those precepts
appealed to their sense of morality and presented few significant
contradictions to their fundamental way of life. Many missionaries, and
Europeans in general, naively interpreted the split as merely a rebellion by
a primitive, pagan race against the goodness of Christianity, and the
schizophrenic rejection of all things modern and European.70 It was, in
fact, more fundamental than that. It was rebellion by the people of a
complex and highly developed (though economically and technologically
unsophisticated) culture, against arbitrary imposition of twentieth century
European moral and economic standards, at too rapid a rate and too early a
time in their social evolution.71
The prohibition against participation in the ancient customs applied
also to teachers and students in the mission schools. Establishment of
independent churches was soon followed by establishment of independent
schools. The major early schools were the Kikuyu Karinga Schools
Association and the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association, which were
directly associated with the independent Orthodox and Pentecostal churches.
These schools started out on the same basis of educational standards as the
mission schools they replaced. Employing many African teachers who were
formerly employed by the mission, they educated many thousands of children
who would have received no education opportunity otherwise.72
The education system overall, including both the mission schools and
the independent schools, inadvertantly created further detriment to the
moral fiber of the African culture. Traditional education, before the
coming of the Europeans, was conducted by parents and elders in the family
and Mbari setting. The major thrust of that education included lessons in
morality, religion, marriage and sexaulity. As children became able to read
and write, they developed an attitude of disrespect for their illiterate
parents and elders, and eventually refused fo accept their guidance and
advise on any matters, most destructively, on matters of discipline and
morality. While the school system provided rather adequate academic
education, it had little time to dedicate to moral guidance, certainly far
less than the family proviously provided.73 This was especially true of the
independent schools, wherein most of the teachers were only marginally
educated themselves, and had no accredited teachers to supervise them.
Thus, over several decades, there grew up more than one generation of
adults, who had abandoned or lost their traditional moral principles,
without having received a suitable substitute to fill the void.74 Even
those who received the benefits, if you will, of the missions' guidance were
rather incomplete citizens of the new society, primarily because they were
disowned by their families. They had no roots in the old traditions, and
they were not accepted in the new European environment of white supremacy.
More and more, the independent schools became breeding grounds for
anti-white sentiments and nationalism. The KCA recognized the void, and
quickly stepped in to fill it with politicized moral guidance of their own
brand. They infiltrated the schools' supervisory councils, where they could
influence the curriculum and the hiring and training of teachers. The
independent schools refused government financial aid, because to accept it
would have meant government control of curriculum.75
The early 1930's were also the time when the land issue came to a head.
To digress a bit, the land claimed by settlers in the first decade was
vacant, for the most part, because the natives had temporarily vacated the
disease and pest-ridden areas. The second decade saw many natives returning
to their lands, finding them occupied by settlers, and accepting cash or
payment in kind under questionable circumstances. The natives understood
the payments to be for temporary cultivation rights, while the Europeans
understood the payments to be for transfer of ownership. The third decade
of the twentieth century was wrought with turmoil as Europeans and Africans
realized the severity of the misunderstood transactions. By that time the
settler population had grown considerably in size, and the natives were
beginning to feel the effects of reduced land availability. The contested
land was primarily that owned by Kikuyu, who by that time had become
partially educated and culturally frustrated. The land represented the only
real object of permanence to which they could cling, as every other aspect
of their traditional existence was being fragmented and stripped away. The
political activists of the Young Kikuyu Association, followed by those of
the Kikuyu Central Association, recognized the land issue as being the
fundamental issue around which all the Kikuyu could be called to rally.
During the late 1920's, a study of the land problem was conducted by the
Kikuyu Land Inquiry Committee, of which L.S.B. Leakey, author of Mau Mau and
the Kikuyu, 1952, and Defeating Mau Mau, 1954, was a member. Leakey was
born and raised in Kenya, among the Kikuyu, and was one of the Europeans who
gained intimate familiarity with the people and their customs first hand.
when the results of the committee's study were presented in 1929, the
majority of government officials were wholly unaware, and found it hard to
believe even then, that the Kikuyu system of land tenure was based upon
ownership of estates with well defined boundaries. In years passed, when
the Kikuyu first realized the white settlers' beliefs and claims of
ownership, educated Kikuyu discovered the white man's system of land title
deeds. At that time, Kikuyu began demanding "tidleydee," as they called the
documents, from the administration for lands to which the settlers had not
yet laid claims. These demands were made because the Kikuyu feared that
more settlers would arrive, and more land would be wrongfully claimed. The
colonial administration refused to issue title deeds to the Kikuyu, "on the
grounds that all Kikuyu land ranked as Crown Land under the Crown Lands
Ordinance, and that the Kikuyu were, in effect, only tenants at the will of
the Crown." Such lands were declared Native Reserves, as administrative
protection against private claims to ownership by settlers. Europeans still
believed, even after the Kikuyu Land Inquiry Committee's results were
published to the contrary in 1929,..."that the land was held communally by
all members of the tribe, and that any person could build huts and cultivate
any piece of land, wherever he chose, provided it was not already being used
by someone else.76
There were further complications to the land issue. First, the more
wealthy Kikuyu enticed less fortunate Kikuyu, who encountered unfamiliar,
government-induced economic problems, to sell their land holdings for
substantial sums money. These sales among tribe members further
increased the number of landless Kikuyu. Second, there was no transfer of
title deeds; therefore, the administration had no formal record of such
transactions. Third, it was suspected that an undetermined number of
dishonest natives filed claims with the administration for lands they had no
right to, in hopes that in the confusion of trying to settle the complicated
land issue, the administration might compensate them for their alleged
losses. Fourth, there were many newly educated young Kikuyu, who wanted to
improve their standard of living by building more sanitary, European style
homes for their families. But those who were landless, living as tenants on
European claimed land that had once belonged to their ancestors, were not
permitted to build such permanent structures.77 Their situation was such
that they had been introduced to a new culture, fostered hopes for a better
life style within that culture, but then were denied opportunity to fulfill
their expectations. In 1931, Johnstone Kenyatta returned to England, along
with Parmenas Mukeri, to represent the KCA in testimony before a Joint
Parliamentary Committee investigation of the Kenya Colony land issue.
Kenyatta'S stay in England continued untill 1946. It has been claimed that
throughout this fifteen year absence from Kenya, the KCA "never made any
major decision without consulting him first."78
The mounting accumulation of African frustrations, further antagonized
by the rally calls of the political activists, convinced the colonial
administration by the fourth decade that bona fide grievances existed,
especially among the Kikkuyu. A Royal Commission was appointed in 1932 to
take affimative action on the land issue. The Carter Land Commission, as it
became known, recommended both cash compensation and provision of "certain
new land" for Kikuyu settlement. Most of the recommendations published in
the 1933 Kenya Land Commission Report were implemented; however, some
dishonest Kikuyu presented outrageous false claims to the Commission, which
clouded the issue and caused many just claims to be set aside in the
process. Additionally, a portion of the "new lands" designated for
compensation, though not included in the Kikuyu Reserve as defined by the
government at that time, were actually lands which the Kikuyu originally
claimed as their own. The final outcome of the government's land settlement
effort was self-satisfaction on the administration's behalf; they believed
that justice was fully served, with perhaps an extra portion to the natives
than deserved. The Kikuyu were far from satisfied. After the settlement
they remained overcrowded, they remained barely able to raise enough food
for basic subsistence, and they remained frustrated by their continued
inability to raise their standard of living79 to a level in anyway
comparable to that of the Europeans, or even the Asians, who were dominating
their African land.
During the land settlement investigations and debates, Harry Thuku,
founder of the banned Young Kikuyu Association, was released from detention.
He immediately returned to political life as an active member of the KCA,
but his moderate brand of politics was incompatible with the growing
radicalism he found among its memership. By 1933, KCA radicals became even
more extremist as a result of their dissatisfaction with the government's
land settlement solution. Consequently, the KCA became split by opposing
factions, with Thuku at the head of the moderate wing. Thuku was elected
president of the KCA in 1935, defeating Jesse Kariuki and Joseph Kangethe.
Kangethe, the KCA founder and incumbent president, refused to give up his
office. As a result, Thuku and his moderate followers departed and founded
the Kikuyu Provincial Association (KPA), dedicated to cooperation with the
government, in terms of opposition by constitutional means. Unfortunately,
the KPA could not muster sufficient popular support to successfully compete
with the more radical KCA.80
From 1935 onward, the KCA became the most powerful and influential
political group among the Africans. Many other moderate African groups
including the Kikuyu Loyal Patriots, and the Progressive Kikuyu Party were
drowned out by the voice of KCA, and groups with similar radical views
became KCA affiliates. The advent of World War II marked the legal
termination of the KCA. In May 1940, the colonial administration arrested
the leaders of KCA on charges fasedition and outlawed the organization.
Homemade weapons were found in the Reserves, and allegations were made
concerning use of the weapons to resist conscription and to assist Italian
invasion from Ethiopia in the north. Consequently, the KCA was accused of
collaboration with the Italians. Harry Thuku's KPA, which supported the
British was movement, remained in existence,81 and Thuku continued to be a
major political opponent of the outlawed Johnstone (by then, Jomo) Kenyatta
for many years.
Kenneth Ingham, in his book A History of East Africa, accused the
colonial administration of exercising poor judgement in their failure to
recognize the activities of these political groups as representative of
constituent African feeling. They chose to measure popular sentiment as
reflected by loyal words and actions of the government appointed chiefs, and
regarded all other groups, "as consisting solely of dissident elements."82
In 1944, the administration appointed Eliud Mathu, a political
moderate, as the first African representative to the Legilative Council.
The Kenya Farmers' and Traders' Association, which allegedly took up the KCA
banner when it was outlawed and forced underground, nominated Peter Koinange
to the Legislative Council, but that nomination was rejected by the Governor
in favor of Mathu.83 Koinange had previously founded the Githunguri
Teachers' Training College, in 1939, for the purpose of providing qualified
teachers for the independent school systems throughout Kenya. The teachers'
college allegedly became infiltrated by the KCA, and eventually came under
its total control as both a propaganda tool and a cover organization for the
KCA.84 In 1944, Mathu founded the Kenya African Study Union (KASU) with
British support and the assistance of a British scholar. AS a moderate
political party, it never gained enough popular support to become a
representative voice of the people.85
In terms of economic prosperity, World War II was beneficial to Kenya.
The global character of the war made Kenya's location strategically
important. The Royal Air Force estalished training bases there, and the
Royal Navy used the port of Mombasa as an intermediate base from which it
supported the war effort in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Likewise,
the British Army used Kenya as a staging base in reasonable proximity to the
Far East. The colony's agricultural output was greatly in demand to feed
British forces throughout those regions. The age of air travel reached
maturity during the war, and even thereafter, Nairobi continued as a major
international airport. As such it provided easy access to a developing land,
and became the "commercial capital for all East African territories."
Investment capital poured in from airlines and oil companies, soon followed
by large banks and insurance companies. The new settlers in Kenya were
businessmen, far removed from the basic problems of the African population.
Nairobi and its surrounding areas boomed, and its complexion changed
drastically. There appeared broader, paved streets, tall buildings and
increased automobile traffic. Concurrently, the slums grew worse in size
and condition, as serious housing shortages became critical. The economic
boom attracted further immigration, including South Africans, Rhodesians,
and more Europeans-not just British. The immigrants came from many
backgrounds, seeking economic success in the boom, or peaceful security in
retirement. Significantly, there were many ex-soldiers who had no civilian
skills, as well as retired civilians with fixed retirement incomes.86 These
immigrants created a wide array of socio-economic problems for the colony,
the negative impact of which fell hardest upon the black African population.
A newer and larger privileged population reasseted the old doctrine of white
supremacy. This time around, the doctrine was not officially sanctioned,
but it persisted and dominated the attitudes of the white population,
nevertheless, The difference in 1945 was that the Africans no longer
accepted it. Once again the Asian merchant community prospered, forming the
wealthy middle class, numbering about 150,000.87
As for the black African population, the soldiers who served the
British Crown in World War II were more educated than their fathers of World
War I. Consequently, they were more influenced by what hey experienced.88
This time they served as combat soldiers in the King's African Rifles (KAR),
and they were treated more as equals by their white comrades in arms. They
enjoyed responsibility, good pay, nutritious food and the concerned
leadership which was afforded them by their white officers. The officers
were less aloof and more tolerant than the "bwanas" the black men had been
accustomed to in their old civilian jobs. After the war's emancipating
experience, the Africans did not want to go back to the old life in the
Reserves. Instead they settled in Nairobi and other boom towns, in hopes of
establishing a future in the new society and sharing the benefits.89 Many
tried to start small business or invest in various enterprises, but most
such attempts failed.90 They experienced widespread prejudicial treatment
in their own country, which had not existed during the war in foreign lands
(e.g. Southern Italy). The same old "bwanas" controlled the labor market,
and blacks could not break into the Asian-dominated trades. During the
period 1946 to 1952, employment increased 70% among Europeans, 43% among
Asians, and only 15% among black Africans.91
The slums swelled with frustrated, unemployed natives, who spent much
of their idle time listening to political speeches by educated Africans.
The speeches were filled with concepts not fully understood by the
uneducated masses, but the sounds of which were quite appealing, words such
as independence, labor organization and African nationalism. As frustration
mounted and bellies became more empty, crime increased to epidemic
proportions, and a Nairobi underworld developed. Most significant to the
conflict of the coming decade, was the strange mixture of crime and
politics, from which the post war underworld was organized.92 Herein lay
the core and the instruments of Mau Mau.
The KCA leaders, who were imprisoned in 1940, were released in 1944.
They immediately resumed their political activities, and quickly
reestablished a massive following, though in a more covert manner than
before. They established fronts to obscure their activities from the
colonial administration, and efficiently targeted the victims of social
injustice to spread their propaganda. The frustrated residents of city
slums were obvious targets, as were labor unions and ex-servicemen's
associations. As previously mentioned, they had established a firm hold on
the independent school systems, and exerted a limited amount of influence on
the supporting independent churches as well.93 Many of the former KCA
leaders joined the KASU, "in order to enjoy the freedom and organization of
a legal body; from the outset they constituted the radical wing...prepared
to capitalize on popular frustrations if the moderate majority failed to
make headway with the colonial administration."94 Other organizations,
ostensibly formed fro purely social purposes, were used extensively to
conceal political activity. Examples of some were the Kikuyu General Union,
the Kikuyu Club, and the Kikuyu Musical Society. These organizations were
among many later used for Mau Mau meeting and initiation ceremonies.95 By
1945, the outlawed KCA members had collected enough money for Kenyatta's
return trip from England.
The foregoing discussion of conditions in Nairobi may have suggested
that economic deprivation was the key issue in the post war political arena.
In fact, that issue was key, in that it provided a dissident population
which was receptive to political catalysts. But once again, the recurring
theme of stolen lands and European exploitation provided the rally point.
Not only had the British failed to compensate African troops for war service
in the way that "the Kikuyu had some reason to anticipate, but 3.3 million
acres were offered to the Zionists. At the same time, Kenyan land was
offered to British ex-servicemen." An additional factor worth mentioning is
that recent attainment of independence by India and Burman gave politically
minded Kenyans similar ideas.96
The Kenya African Study Union (KASU) was originally a moderate,
colony-wide African organization established to provide Eliud Mathu with
advise concerning the needs of the African people. As it became infiltrated
by political activists carrying the nationalist banner, the word "Study" was
found to be inappropriate and dropped from its title. Thus, in 1946, the
Kenya African Union (KAU) was born.
The union's original constitution included such aims as the unity of
all Kenya Africans, preparation for the introduction of democracy,
advancement of African interests, opposition to racial barriers, and
acquisition of legislative representation, voting rights, freedom of
assembly, press and movement. Nowhere among its constitutional aims were
the nationalist aims of the old KCA; i.e. return of alienated lands and
national independence.97 But that same year Jomo Kenyatta returned to Kenya
as the nationalist movement leader. In June of 1947, the moderate president
of the former KASU stepped down, and Kenyatta was overwhelmingly elected
president of the KAU.98
As had occurred within the KCA in the 1930's, a power struggle between
moderates and radicals took place within the KAU during the late 1940's.
The radicals this time around were chiefly the same players as in the earlier
game, bound together by their KCA oaths of loyalty and secrecy, but
experiences since the 1930's made them more militant. By 1947, the militant
wing had gained key leadership positions, but there occurred no major party
split, unlike the KCA/KPA split in the late 1930's.
It is generally accepted that the militant wing of the KCA was closely
linked to, if not synomomous with, the movement later called Mau Mau.
Likewise, it is generally agreed that the Nairobi underworld eventually
comprised the hardcore Mau Mau elements. Yet there is widespread divergence
of opinion, among authors on the subject, as to any direct relationship
between Jomo Kenyatta and the Mau Mau movement.99a
The militant wing pressed the old land issue harder than ever in 1947.
The Kikuyu Reserve, which was the closest of the native reserves to Nairobi,
was increasingly pressed by both the post-war immigration growth and their
own "natural" population increase. (The missionaries' success, in terms of
discouraging the practice of traditional birth control methods early in the
century, was manifesting itself prodigiously by 1947.) The Kikuyu
apparently did not have a complete understanding of the boundaries imposed
by the various reserves (e.g. the Forest Reserve, which bordered the Kikuyu
Reserve, etc.), and they were constantly spilling ovvr into bordering areas,
including European settlements. This spillover was necessary mainly for
agricultural reasons. There simply was not enough land alloted to them for
subsistence food production--at least not so far as they believed. Their
agricultural methods were still very primitive: yield per acre was very
low, soil erosion and mineral depletion took a rapid toll, and draught,
pests and plant diseases destroyed much of their harvest potential. The
colonial administration's logical answer to their agricultural problems, was
to teach them modern techniques which could improve crop yield. The Kikuyu
women were enraged by the amount of extra work required by the new
techniques, especially the cultivation and soil conservation methods. For
as many centuries as their verbal history revealed, their ancestors had
simply farmed more land when more food was needed, and moved to more fertile
ground when the soil wore out. In their view, the Europeans were forcing
more changes upon them, this time requiring difficult labor, when a simpler
solution existed in tradition. The militant wing of the KAU seized the
opportunity to point out that the Europeans had "stolen" the prime farm land
from the Africans, and because they had done so, they were forcing the
Africans to make do with the left overs. The militants presented exerpts
from the Carter Land Commission report of the mid-1930's, as "proof" that,
"at least some of the Kikuyu lands had been illegally taken without
recompence." In the most radical arguments presented to the people, the
"stolen" lands applied to all European held lands. Thus, the soil
conservation issue, specifically the government's land terracing program,
became the focal point of Kikuyu resentment toward Europeans in general in
1947. The administration decreed the program mandatory, aggravated the
situation by consolidating fractionated Kikuyu land holdings,99b and
undertook strenuous enforcement measures. The Kikuyu women refused to
comply. Public demonstrations and riots resulted, and the administration's
police force had its hands full. Finally, the administration backed down on
the terracing issue, and Jomo Kenyatta agreed to join the District
Commissioner on a tour of the Central District to calm the disturbances.100
By this time, Kenyatta was becoming concerned that the radical
militancy of the nationalists might be betting out of control. He, himself,
was a nationalist, but apparently not a radical, certainly not a militant on
the surface. Beneath the surface, no one seems to know for certain what he
was, with one exception: the literature researched is consistent in
describing him as an intelligent, well-organized, politically astute leader,
who was effectively capable of inspiring the African people. Aside from
that, he has been accused of being the originator and executive leader of
the Mau Mau movement, while other authors acquit him of any connection,
whatever, to Mau Mau, its origin or its evolution. The evidence does not
convincingly support either of these extreme views. James E. Trinnamen has
built a strong case to support the assertions of D.H. Rawcliffe's
1954publication, The Struggle for Kenya, which place Kenyatta somewhere
between the extremes. As a devout nationalist, "Kenyatta was intent on
reorganizing KAU into an effective and disciplined national
movement...Kenyatta believed that the use of passive resistence and
political sabotage of government measures would force the colonial
administration to deal with the African leadership. In addition, the
activities of the extremist nationalists would help in this process by
encouraging the administration to seek reasonable and moderate Africans,
that is Kenyatta, through which to work to reachieve some form of political
Behind the scenes, Kenyatta probably encouraged controlled violence, to
suit his aims, and almost certainly did not discourage it. Too often, his
leadership of the KAU was demonstrated to be uncontested. His influence
over the KAU could not have survived so totally, if he had actively opposed
the powerful militant wing. Publicly he never spoke for or against Mau Mau.
Therefore, at the very least, he encouraged the Mau Mau movement by his
tacit approach to the issue.
Kenyatta'S joint tour of the Central Province with the administrative
Commissioner was the first major indicator that his political scheme of
maneuver was tactically sound. The violent refusal of the Kikuyu to comply
with administrative decree (i.e. the mandatory program) served his purpose.
The administration acknowledged his representaion of reasonable African
leadership capable of controlling the violent situation and calming the
people. Kenyatta's real concern over uncontrolled violence did not relate
to this instance, which was probably carefully orchestrated behind the
scenes. His concern related to militant extremists who lay outside his
sphere of control; i.e. outside of the KAU.
The "Religious" Nationalists
It was pointed out earlier in this text, that the religious issue came
to a head among Kikuyu converts in the early 1930's. The two major Kikuyu
independent churches were founded as a result. But as early as 1907, the
first breakaway church was founded by John Awalo. Owalo was one of
Kenyatta's teachers at the Church Missionary Society school in Nairobi.
Among religious revisionists in Kenya, he would be classified as a moderate,
simply declaring that, "God had sent a new word through him for the African
people." His church closely followed the precepts of the Old Testiment,
which he interpreted as being consistent with the fundamental precepts of
the Kikuyu religion, including polygamy and circumcision of both sexes,
according to James Trinneman.102
It should be pointed out at this point, that tribes other than the
Kikuyu formed their own churches or religious cults, called "dinis," as
rejections of missionary prohibitions. Some of these were more than simply
rejections. A number of them openly advocated expulsion of European
missionaries from the country, while others advocated expulsion of Europeans
in general. Trinneman writes that dinis founded after World War I were more
radical in their anti-European aims and more secretive in their organization
and activity. Dinis founded after World War II were more radical still.
Following World War II, the five most powerful dinis were the "Dini ya
Msambwa" (Cult of the Spirits of the Dead), formed by the Suk tribe; "Dini
ya Roho" (Cult of the Holy Ghost), formed by the Luo tribe; "Dini ya Mboja"
(Cult of Prayer), formed by the Kipsigi; and two Kikuyu dinis, "Watsu wa
Mungu" (The People of God) and "Dini ya Yesu Kristo" (Cult of Jesus
While it seems clear that Kenyatta was able to exercise some degree of
influence upon the main separatist Kikuyu churches in the 1930's (as a
result of KCA infiltration of their associated achool systems), it is
quistionable how much control he had over the activities of the post World
War II cults, if any. These cults, vehemently opposed European presence or
influence of any kind, practiced rites and ceremonies steeped in magic and
mystical oaths, and Trinneman credited them with contributing religious
fanaticism to the character of the Mau Mau movement. At least three of
their leaders shared commonality of background. They were products of
European mission schools, who rejected the missions, founded their own cults
under claims of supernatural powers, intermixed some precepts of
Christianity with those of ancient tribal religions, and preached that, "the
white man should be driven from Kenya."104
Elijah Masindi was a member of the Suk tribe, who founded the Dine ya
Msamba. On he grounds that he was answerable only to God, he refused to
pay his poll taxes, and in 1944 was imprisoned when he refused to sign a
pledge to keep the peace. While in prison, he was declared insane and
committed to a mental hospital. Upon his release in May of 1947, he
immediately recognized his cult. He held mass rallies in July and
September, calling his followers to arms and calling upon the spirits of the
dead, "to aid them in the coming battle," to drive the Europeans out of
their lands. Symbolically, the Septemter rally of 5000 or more participants
was held at the site of the last major battle waged against British
incursion into Kenya at the turn of the century. Masindi was captured and
deported in 1948 after several clashes between members of his cult and
British forces. Though declared illegal, the cult continued to expand under
the leedership of Lucas Pkiech.105
Pkiech, who also belonged to the Suk Tribe, joined Masindi's cult in
1946. His role at that time was to recruit new converts, which resulted in
his being arrested several times in the ensuing two years. Finally, in
August 1948, he was again arrested and sentenced to prison for 25 years, on
charges of "holding a prohibited meeting." Within the first year of
imprisonment, he escaped to take Masindi's place as leader of the Dini ya
Msambwa. His promises to the membership included, "eternal life, no
European control, no sickness, relief from blindness, immunity from gunfire
and capture,...fertility in the men and no sterility in the women." His
threats to doubters included, "the possibility that their animals would
sicken and die." Pkiech was killed in April 1950 in a short, bloody battle
between British forces and "several hundred" members of the Dini ya Msambwa.
No total casualty figures regarding this battle were found in the sources
available. This cult was credited by Trinneman with establishing the basic
behavior pattern of Mau Mau, though it was "officially" disbanded in
Ruben Kihiko was a member of the Kikuyu tribe who led the Dini ya Jesu
Kristo. This was a new militant Kikuyu cult, which developed after World
War II. According to Trinneman, Kihiko was characterized as a real horror,
brutal, fanatical and spiteful; his movement was regarded as rabid
'Kikuyuism,' to which was added Old Testiment bloodthirstiness." Kihiko's
most identifiable contribution to Mau Nau, aside from his "bloodthirsty"
character, was his prohibition against the use of any European thing or
procedure. Included in his proscriptions were the use of European clothing
and the practice of shaving, which made his followers easily identifiable in
the early days.107
The radical, militant, post-war dinis and their leaders were the
probable main source of Kenyatta's concern. If he could not control their
violence, he would be of little use to the British as, "the rational African
leadership through which they could work," to reachieve political balance.
Emergence of Mau Mau
According to Raymond Glazier, the first rumors of Mau Mau and secret
oaths reached segments of the European community in 1948.108 The exact date
is unknown, because Europeans paid little attention to it initially; they
did not know what it was and did not seem to care. There is still very
little known about the name's origin. None of the Kenya tribes have
admitted to a direct translation of the word in their native language.109
Raymond Glazier, in his 1967 study entitled Kenya: The Termination of Mau
Mau, alleges that an African clergyman (tribe not stated) first gave Mau Mau
its name while denouncing it from his pulpit in 1948. Glazier's source is
Then, the Mau Mau mystic began. Europeans in general knew nothing
about it, where it came from, what it meant, why it existed or who was
behind it. By 1952 they did learn to fear it, but not to understand it.
Even today, the literature is such a jumble of contrasting theories and
parochial interpretations of event, that it is difficult to determine which,
if any, are correct. It is referred to in this text simply as a movement.
Some authors call it a political organization, others a religious
organization, still others a purely criminal organization, and finally there
are those who call it total disorganization--a manifestation of irrational
hysteria by a primitive people whose culture was shattered and never
suitably replaced. It is this author's belief that Mau Mau was, in fact, a
mixture of all those things, in various proportions, during extended and
overlapping periods of time. Much attention was paid to speculation during
the 1950's, that Mau Mau was communist inspired, or at least communist
supported.111 This was so mainly because Kenyatta joined the communist
party and visited Russia during his 1928-1930 stay in Europe; however,
research has revealed no evidence to support such speculation and most
authors flatly deny any possibility of truth to it.
The cultural problems at the root of Mau Mau have been painfully laid
out in the foregoing pages, but the problems were infinitely more complex
than can be adequately presented in a study of this scope. What should be
made apparent, however, is that all sources researched unanimously agree,
that the Kikuyu were the tribe most heavily impacted by the arrival,
administration and growth of British influence, and thereafter comprised the
majority of Mau Mau (though not all Kikuyu were Mau Mau).
The politics found at the root of Mau Mau were nationalistic, in that
the activist leadership discussed in the foregoing pages, stated their aims
as eviction of Europeans and/or unification of all the African tribes of
Kenya. It appears that the political activists and Mau Mau never worked out
collectively, the problem of which aim should be achieved first, or by what
means, despite the fact that most of the political leaders, as well as the
rank and file activists, were Kikuyu.
The religious fanaticism which characterised Mau Mau sprang from the
post-war cults, as noted. Although the cults were not exclusively Kikuyu,
the format and symbolism employed in the Mau Msu initiation rites and
oathing ceremonies were district adaptation of traditional Kikuyu rituals.
Researched sources did not specify what percentage of the criminal
element comprising the Nairobi underworld were Kikuyu. However, the
previously cited sources regarding the induced migrations of Kikuyu to
Nairobi, followed by unemployment, frustration and lawlessness, lead one to
believe that the percentage was significantly large. Majdalany refers to
this element In State of Emergency, as being recruited into KAU employment
as a kind of strongarm enforcement group, numbering 2000 men. "Conspicuous
in this element," writes Majdalany, "was the self-styled 'Forty Group' of
young thugs." He goes on to describe their origin and make up:
The fraternal solidarity that bound together members of the
same circumcision groups (of Kikuyu) after the initiations
which occur every two or three years. The Forty Group were
ostensibly the initiates of 1940 and had been most involved
(as non-combatants) in the war. They had attracted to
themselves others of a similar type.112
Majdalany describes 1948 as being a rather quiet year compared to the
mass rallies and violence of 1947:
The suggestion that Kenyatta was now restraining his hot
heads from racing too fast and thereby disrupting his
master plan is supported by the fact that...1948...was an
uneasy lull rater than the beginning of a peaceful
If the premise is accepted that Kenyatta did not have all of Kenya's
violent elements under control in 1947, it could be inferred that he used
the "Forty Group" during 1948 in an effort to gain that control. Majdalany
goes on to discuss increased reports of "a secret society called Mau Mau"
and oathing ceremonies:
An itelligence report linked the oathing ceremonies with
"the people of three letters." A report by an African
clergyman (passed on to the Chief Native Commissioner)
stated that the KCA was enticing the ignorant to take its
oath by suggesting that only those who had been oathed
would benefit from the large new land redistribution which
Jomo Kenyatta was planning...Then in September...Special
Branch recorded that "a new movement, the Mau Mau, believed
to be a branch of KCA, had appeared in Naivasha."...Now for
the first time Mau Mau had been named in an official
The single common thread running through the constituent elements
contributing to Mau Mau, was the predominance of Kikuyu membership. During
interviews with many Kikuyu tribesmen, with whom he grew up, L.S.B. Leakey
found that the so-called loyalist Kikuyu (those who opposed Mau Mau)
credited the old militant wing of the KCA with being the core element of Mau
Mau. But Leakey also reasons that many former KCA members, "had come to
realize that the organization had done more harm than good to their
cause...and...no longer gave their support to such movements.115
Raymond Glazier asserts, in Kenya: The Termination of Mau Mau, that it
became obvious by 1950, that two types of conflict were taking place
simultaneously in Kenya:
One a political nationalist movement which petitioed both
the British Governor and the Secretary of State for the
Colonies in London and bitterly attacked white settler
institutions and land "theft" in speeches and pamphlets,
and another which pitted those who had taken a magical oath
to restore Kikuyu land in violent conflict against those
who refused to take the oath. People were often forced to
take the Mau Mau oath, and the first reports of violence
(by Mau Mau) were threats, terrorism and murders of Kikuyu
who refused to participate.116
The first set of oaths employed were mainly composed of prohibitions,
rather than requiring specific action. The sources researched had various
version of the oaths, which were gathered from many sources, second hand,
but all versions contain the same basic ingredients. Following is the first
set as presented by Majdalany:
(a) If I ever reveal the secrets of this organization, may
this oath kill me.
(b) If I ever sell or dispose of any Kikuyu land to a
foreigner, may this oath kill me.
(c) If I ever jail to follow our great leader, Kenyatta,
may this oath kill me.
(d) If I ever inform against any member of this
organization or against any member of this organization or
against any member who steals from the European, may this
oath kill me.
(e) If I ever fail to pay the fees of this organization,
may this oath kill me.117
There is much confusion in the literature as to who was really
responsible far the early oaths. It has been said in the available
literature that they were KCA oaths, that they were Mau Mau oaths, and that
KCA was the same thing as Mau Mau. It has been pretty well established that
although the KCA was outlawed and disbanded in 1940, the militant members
thereof remained banded together by their initiation age groups, joined the
KAU and formed its militant wing. Kikuyu tribesmen, apparently of a younger
initiation age group, became part of the Nairobi underworld, and eventually
formed the Mau Mau hardcore. Perhaps they were brought under the influence
of the militant wing at an early stage. However, the literature implies
that the militant religious cults were founded and led by men who have not
been proven to have been KCA members at all. While a portion of their
followers could have been part of the old KCA militant wing, certainly not
all of them were--many were not even Kikuyu. The point to be made here is
that any one of several factions could have initiated the original Mau Mau
movement in the late 1947 to early 1948 time frame.
The apparent intent of initiating the Mau Mau movement was to unify the
Kikuyu, and then perhaps the other Kenyan tribes later on. From a rational
militant stand point, a unified African population would be essential in
order to expel the Europeans by force. The nationalist politicians were
divided into militant and moderate factions. The religious community was
split into several factions, including Christians still loyal to the
European missions; Christians who established independent, African-based
churches; non-christians who continued to cling to the true religion of the
ancients; and the new cultists who developed radical religions of their own.
The criminal element apparently consisted of an underworld organization of
unknown factions, whose loyalties could be shifted wherever the
opportunities for power and profit seemed most promising. There were many
Kikuyu who initially had no political interests one way or another,
classified as British loyalists.
Most authors are inclined to credit the old KCA militants with
initiating the Mau Mau movement, and logic would dictate that to be the most
probable case. But any of the factions interested in ridding Kenya of the
British could have been responsible. The important unanswered question is
whether Jomo Kenyatta was the real catalyst, or whether one or more of the
factions initiated the movement in his name without his consent.
If Kenyatta was the catalyst, then the theory advanced by most British
authorities on the subject is valid; i.e., that the Mau Mau movement stemmed
from a single seat of power, from which a complex organization was operated
through a formal chain of command to achieve a single set of objectives.
Majdalany even goes so far as to suggest in State of Emergency, that
Kenyatta had a master strategy, which he put into effect from the moment of
his arrival back in Kenya in 1946. Allegedly, Mau Mau was a part of that
strategy, intended to effect the unification of the Kikuyu tribe, "into a
dominating united entity wholly submissive to his leadership." Such extreme
measures were required, according to Majdalany, because the Kikuyu were
becoming too well adapted to conditions under administration of the British,
and could not be motivated to a national liberation movement through
political means alone. He further charges that Kenyatta's strategy called
for an especially perverted form of religion (a mixture of desecrated
ancient Kikuyu religion and Christianity, with Kenyatta replacing Christ),
as the motive force of unification. At this point in his thesis,
Majdalany's racial prejudices, or those of his sources, begin to show
through. As he explains the cleverness of the plan, he declares that, "The
need for religion is ingrained (in the Kikuyu people) and with it a high
susceptibility to superstition, black and white magic, the supernatural, the
effect of ritual."118 It is hard to imagine Kenyatta, himself a Kikuyu,
applying such reasoning in a long term strategy. The logic is much more in
keeping with that of the white settlers, the administration personnel or
Governor Mitchell, himself.
After two years of unimpeded growth through coercive recruitment, Mau
Mau was finally declared illegal in 1950. In August of that year, the
colonial governor appointed the Internal Security Working Committee, to
evaluate the severity of Kenya Colony's internal security risk, and to make
appropriate recommendations in response to the risk. Not until November of
the following year did the committee complete its report. The excerpt
relating to Mau Mau in that report, which took 15 months to complete, is
presented below as extracted from Kenya, by A.M. MacPhee:
This is a Kikuyu secret society which is probably another
manifestation of the suppressed Kikuyu Central Association.
Its objects are anti-European and its intention is to
disposssess Europeans of the White Highlands. Its members
take an oath not to give information to the police, and may
also swear not to obey certain orders of the Government.
It is suspected that some members employed on European
farms indulge in a "go-slow" policy, and that they may also
have committed minor acts of sabotage on farms. Successful
prosecutions against the society are believed to have
checked its growth; or at least to have curbed the forceful
recruitment of adherents. The potency of the organization
depends on the extent to which it possesses the power,
latent in all secret societies, of being more feared than
the forces of law and order. It is possible that as soon
as the Sh.60 entrance fees are no longer forthcoming little
more will be heard of Mau Mau; but in the meantime, this
society, like the religious sects, remains a possible
instrument for mischief in the hands of agitators...The
main underlying factors which condition the climate of
anti-European feelings amongst the Africans are the
disparity of wealth, land hunger, the urge to run their own
affairs, a combination of the often rather nebulous
elements that go to produce feelings of racial
disc imination, and among the better educated and
personally ambitious the fact that progress toward
self-government in Kenya is apparently slower than in other
territories where Europeans are not a permanent element in
The committee's naive prediction, that Mau Mau would cease to be heard
from if the government could prevent collection of their entrance fees,
prompted MacPhee to write, "...a statement of wishful thinking in an
otherwise accurate assessment of the movement and the surrounding political
conditions." However, neither the colonial administration, nor the British
government took any decisive action to correct the problems, nor was any
plan formulated to suppress, by force, the factions driving the movement.
As to the official response, Governor Mitchell attached a letter to the
report and circulated it under a secret cover. A segment of that letter, as
presented by MacPhee, follows:
...it is well to bear in mind that although a sentiment
such as nationalism may acquire great strength and
momentum, quite apart from the existence of poverty or
other causes of social discontent, the major problem in
Kenya and East Africa generally is social and agrarian and
not nationalistic. Moreover, we are at present at a stage
when improvement in social conditions and such land reform
as is practicable could bring about a marked betterment in
the attitude to Government, and it is for that reason that
we can regard such improvement and reform as a major
security measure. In particular, improvements in wages,
housing and education are within our power and of great
importance, while the greatest importance attachee to
everything that can be done to create better conditions on
Thus, Governor Mitchell acknowledged that the social problems, which
had developed without significant relief for half a century, had finally
arrived at a stage of great importance, the solution of which was apparently
justifiable only "as a major security measure." However, he totally
disregarded the nationalist aims of the movement, which were sought by the
best educated and best organized leaders of the "risk" factions. Likewise,
he disregarded the religious cults whose aims were to restore the old
culture and traditions. Social reform, administered under colonial rule,
did not in any way correlate with their objectives, which could be achieved
only by driving out the foreigners.
The Mau Mau Religion
As briefly noted in earlier text, Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey was
raised among the Kikuyu people. During his youth, he was intimate with the
tribe on a daily basis as friend, playmate and fellow student, thereby
becoming thoroughly fluent in their language and familiar with their
customs. He is a member of the age-group called Mukanda, from which he
regrets to say, "...Mau Mau leaders have sprung." He is also, "an initiated
first grade elder (Muthuri wa mkuri imwe) of the tribe..." when the rumors
of Mau Mau first began to circulate in the late 1940's, Leakey returned to
the Kikuyu Reserve in order to work with the elders and members of his
age-group, in an effort to sort out what was taking place, and to aid the
Kenyan people (both African and European) in resolution of the conflicts.
As a result of his work, he published two books, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu in
1952, and Defeating Mau Mau in 1954.
Leakey's original hypothesis in Mau Mau and the Kikuyu: "Mau Mau was
nothing more than a new expression of the old KCA...a political body that
was banned...because it had become wholly subversive." Furthermore, "Mau
Mau was synomomous with the new body called the Kenya African
Union..."However, Leakey admits to a reversal of his original hypothesis in
Defeating Mau Mau, and does on to say, "Mau Mau, while to some extent
synonymous with these political organizations, was in fact a religion and
owed its success to this fact more than to anything else at all."121
He then proceeds to attribute the origin of Mau Mau to an "ideology
transfer," wherein the religious beliefs of the Kikuyu transitioned from
their ancient tribal religion to Euro-Christianity to Mau Mau. The first
transition took place artificially, as the missionaries stripped away the
traditional beliefs and supplanted them with "20th Century Europe's concept
of Christianity." The second transition was more natural and evolutionary
than the first. A reactionary hybrid of the old and the new developed,
because the supplanted concepts would not hold up in their society. There
were too many contradictions between the old and the new, mainly due to the
2oth Century European "add-ons."
Leakey, Majdalany and Baldwin all report Mau Mau use of Christian hymns
and the Apostles Creed, wherein the words were adapted to their own
purposes, and the name of Jomo Kenyatta or the KCA replaced Jesus Christ.
These hymns were sung in their original tuned but in the Kikuyu language, at
public gatherings as well as at Mau Mau meetings and ceremonies.
William Baldwin, the only American to have participated as a combatant
in the Kenya Police Reserve during the Emergency, reports finding written
Mau Mau hymns in the possession of captives:
Let the hypocrites among the tribe remember that the time
will come when they will be like Judas. The time will come
for all these hypocrites to be burned.
Come all you Kikuyu and summon, too, all women and let us
plan secretly now: We are full of sorrow because of our
soil which has been taken from us without consent.122
Majdalany records other examples translated by Leakey:
...for God is the Conquerer. He told Kenyatta in a vision "You
shall multiply as the stars of Heaven, nations will be blessed
because of you." And Kenyatta believed him and God swore to it by
his mighty power. Kenyatta will find happiness before God, for he
is the foundation stone of the Kingdom.
The Book of the Kikuyu is Holy, it helps me to be good, it is my
guiding principle when I go to join the Kikuyu. The Book is
Kenyatta, it is he who leads men, it is he who saved me by his
blood. We see the love of Kenyatta in that Book. He gave his life
to save us...I will achieve self-government through Jomo
Before declaration of the Emergency, Mau Mau recruitment and ceremonies
were held in conjunction with public meetings of such organization as labor
unions, school boards, churches, social organizations, etc. During the
public portions, hymn books would be passed out, and many hymns would be
sung, to raise the fervor of the attendees. Because very few Europeans
could speak Kikuyu, the police who monitored such gatherings did not realize
that the Mau Mau propaganda was being spread right under their noses. The
Mau Mau ceremonies and initiation rites would be administered elsewhere,
following the "cover" meeting.124
The Mau Mau ceremonies made extensive use of ancient symbols and
procedures, especially those employed during the most solemn of ceremonies,
such as the initiation into adulthood. Majdalany draws heavily from
Leakey's Defeating Mau Mau, in his description that follows:
...It is guite dark and he (the initiate) is ordered to
remove his clothes...In the darkness he is pushed forward
and receives his first Shock when his naked body
is...brushed by the outline of an arch. This is totally
unexpected...but he knows it is the arch of sugar cane and
banana leaves through which he had to pass during his
initiation into manhood: at the time of his circumcision.
Then suddenly the lights are turned up and...a necklet of
grass is placed over his head, and this too takes him back
to the same most solemn occasion of his life....his eye
would now take in the paraphernalia assembled by the
white-robed oath administrater----the blood-filled gourds,
the sheep's eye, the thorns and the sodom apple, the
hibiscus stick and the dripping flesh of the sacrificial
animal...new terror for all of these symbols are related
not to the solemnity of initiation and circumcision but to
black magic. Now they would go to work on him quickly. He
would be ordered to eat a piece of sacrificial flesh thrust
against his lips. This would be done seven times and after
each he would have to repeat the oath. Then the lips would
be touched with blood seven times, the oath being repeated
after each. Next a gourd of blood would be passed round
his head seven times; he would be ordered to stick seven
thorns into a sodom apple and pierce the eye of the sheep
or get (usually removed while it was alive) seven times
with a thorn.
...Dr. Leakey has shown how this blend, in Kikuyu terms, of
sacred and profane took effect. The archway and the grass
necklet evoked the solemnity of initiation to adulthood;
the seven pieces of sacrificial meat and the blooding of
the lips seven times were associated with legal oath
ceremonies. But the other procedures "were linked most
definitely with black magic and the casting of evil
spells." Leakey adds that "seven is the number linked in
Kikuyu minds with bad luck and with magic rites and with
oath ceremonies of a very severe nature, so that the
performance of various rites seven times added potency of
its own to all the other aspects of what was done.125
Majdalany further explains that it was intended that the entire tribe
should receive the first oath, in ceremonies such as described above, and
most authorities on this subject estimate that between 70% and 80% of them
eventually did. Donald Block reports in Chapter 4 of the U.S. Army's
Preconflict Case Study 5: Kenya, that the Kikuyu population in 1948
By 1951, reports were being received concerning mass oathing
ceremonies, which accounts to a degree for almost incredible high numbers of
tribesmen who allegedly took the oath. In 1952 the complexion of the oaths
changed, in that the second and subsequent oaths began to require violent
action rather than mere loyalty and secrecy:
(a) If I am sent to bring in the head of any enemy and I
fail to do so, may this oath kill me.
(b) If I fail to steal anything from the European, may
this oath kill me.
(c) If I know of any enemy to our organization and I fail
to report him to my leader, may this oath kill me.
(d) If I am even sent by a leader to do something big for
the House of Kikuyu, and I refuse, may this oath kill me.
(e) If I refuse to help in driving the Europeans from this
country, may this oath kill me.
(f) If I worship any leader but Jomo Kenyatta, may this
oath kill me.127
Various administrators of the oath added other embellishments to subsequent
(a) If I am called upon to do so, with four others I will
kill a European.
(b) If I am called upon to do so, I will kill a Kikuyu who
is against Mau Mau, even if it be my mother or father or
brother or sister or wife or child.
(c) If called upon to do so, I will help to dispose of the
body of a murdered person so that it may not be found.
(d) I will never disobey the orders of the leaders of this
After declaration of the Emergency, the forest leaders conceived more
perverted oaths and ceremonies, which were more demanding and traumatic.
The following quote from Leakey's Defeating Mau Mau may help an
outsider of the Kikuyu culture to better understand why such simple words,
promised under duress, were so effectively binding:
For a people who fifty years ago were so completely under
the spell of witchcraft and magic; who can still die from
the fear of a spell put upon them; or who can become ill
and wilt away from the knowledge of having broken some rule
which involves ceremonial uncleanliness, it is not
surprising that the combination of elements used in Mau Mau
oaths had a most terrible mental effect.129
Aside from their deep seated belief in the killing powers of an oath,
they were further persuaded to obey by terrorist attacks upon those who
Events Building to the Emergency
Sometime early in 1950, word was circulated among the people that the
monarch's brother, the Duke of Gloucester, was going to Nairobi in March, to
formally bestow upon it the status of "city." This prompted agitators
(presumably KCA militants) to stir up the population with warnings that city
status would mean "further thefts of land from the Kikuyu by British
authorities." Leakey records that an organized boycott of the city
celebration was ordered, as a protest against the new status. A large rally
was organized in the Kiamba district, "at which...a number of prominent
Kikuyu took part in a solemn oath-taking ceremony, which included...clauses
of the oath ceremony that has more recently been...associated with the Mau
Tom Mbotela, the moderate vice-president of the KAU and major adversary
of Jomo Kenyatta and the militant nationalists chose to disregard the
boycott of the Nairobi celebration. He not only attended the festivities,
he fulfilled his obligations as a member of the city council and
participated in the ceremony. His defiance resulted in a Mau Mau
assassination attempts, which marked the first blatant Mau Mau incident
against a prominent figure.132
Around the same time, Fred Kubai (chairman of the Nairobi branch of
KAU) and Makhan Singh (credited with attempting to reestablish the KCA after
its proscription) were arrested organizing an illegal trade union, the East
African Trade Union Congress. Their arrest prompted a ten day general
strike in Nairobi, accompanied by massive civil violence. Ten days later,
Kubai was again arrested for an assassination attempt upon Nairobi
Councillor Muchohi Gikongo.133
In April 1950, a Kikuyu named Njehia in search of first aid,
inadvertantly disclosed to a police reservist farmer that, "he had been
forced to take a Mau Mau oath." He had been severly beaten and wounded
because he refused to become an active Mau Mau member and, "his son had
reported a Mau Mau oathing ceremony to a European." Majdalany reports that
an investigation resulted in nineteen arrests and convictions, marking the
first Mau Mau prosecution under the two year old Section 62 (I) of the Penal
Code. Section 62 (I) was the strongest action the administration was
willing to take against Mau Mau up to that time, legislation which made it
illegal to administer "unlawful oaths." To the dismay of everyone by the
assailants, the conviction was reversed on appeal, because of a minor
clerical error on the charge sheet. This failure by the judiciary sent a
message of encouragement to Mau Mau, and one of insecruity to potential
victims of Mau Mau, Europeans and loyalist Kikuyu alike. 134
On 4 August 1950, Governor Mitchell finally declared Mau Mau an illegal
society, and that same month appointed his Internal Security Working
Committee, discussed in preceding pages.
Before the year ended, Jomo Kenyatta and Mbiyu Koinage (son of Senior
Chief Koinage and high ranking KAU official) negotiated with the
administration, and representatives of the European and Asian Committees, to
establish an interracial development program. Although the Kenya Citizens'
Association was established as a product of those negotiations, the program
recieved inadequate white settler support, and racial barriers remained
The outlaw of Mau Mau netted the administration 141 arrests and 120
convictions of rank and file Mau Mau, plus 27 convictions of KCA militants
charged with administering unlawful oaths of allegiance to their outlawed
organization by year's end.136
Majdalany identifies the year 1951 as being characterized by
increasingly rowdy and threatening KAU meetings, by unheaded intelligence
reports of Mau Mau activity, and by mounting police and District
Commissioner frustrations with the ignorance and complacence of their
Nairobi superiors. The Internal Security Working Committee's report was
made in November, and the governor's attitude in response, "seemed like that
of a man who told that his house was on fire, gives a dissertation on the
importance of fire precautions when he should be telephoning for the fire
Kenyatta continued to maintain his image of a moderate nationalist
mediator between the governor's administration and militant factions.
Adminsitration officials pressed him, "to denouce Mau Mau publicly at one
of his KAU rallies," writes Majdalany, but "He had no difficulty in evading
the issue by maintaining the pretense that he did not know what it
was...This playing around with the suggestion that he did not know the word,
that it had no meaning...generally provoked appreciative laughter from
audience at his meetings."138
Mr. James Griffiths, Labor Secretary of State for the Colonies visited
Kenya in May, 1951, with the stated intention of developing constitutional
changes in the colony. Griffiths agreed to meet with Kenyatta, who,
according to Glazier, presented four KAU demands:
1) 12 elected Africans on the legislative Council instead
of 4 nominated members.
2) Abolition of the color bar.
3) Government aid for African farmers.
4) Free trade union activity.
According to Glazier, all four were ignored.139
A Marshall MacPhee records that the following proposal was made as a
result of Griffiths' visit:
(1) Withing twelve months of the elecion of the next
Legislative Council in May 1952, there should be a
(2)As interim measures:
(a) An African would join the Governor's Executive
(b) The number of African seats increased in the
Legislative Council from four to six;
(c)An additional seat given to the Indians and to the
(d) Three more seats given to the Europeans to
preserve the principle of parity.140
According to MacPhee, Kenyatta achieved nearly total domination of the KAU
b the close of 1951. Tom Mbotela, his moderate vice-president and chief
adversary, was forced from office, and eight of the nine Central Committee
members were Kikuyu.141
"1952 opened with a long-predicted campaign of intimidation against
African officials--maintly chiefs and headmen," writes Majdalany. Twenty
cases of arson were reported in two nights near the end of January. Mau Mau
terrorists tied the officials' huts closed and set them afire; forty-eight
such cases within a monthe in the Nyeri District, plus fifty-eight cases of
gazing land and crop fires on settlers' farms in an overlapping five week
MacPhee reports that, "on 23 February the District Commissioner for
Nyeri...appealed to the authorities in Nairobi for the Collective Punishment
Ordinance to be implemented..." Governor Mitchell's response , on 8 April,
was to sign, "an order imposing a fine of 2500 pounds." Mitchell's delay in
signing the order was caused by the week long visit in Kenya of Princess
Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Despite the advice of his Provincial
Commissioners, Mitchell refused to cancel the Royal visit and admit that an
emergency situation existed.143
Majdalany comments further on Mitchell's attempt to down play the
significance of the February violence, noting that in the Colony
Intelligence Report for February, which "gave three sentences to the
forty-eight arson cases in Nyeri and three pages to routine trade union
affairs in Nairobi." An extract from the Kenya Weekly News, written in
March, was reprinted in State of Emergency:
Speaking in London last month, His Excellency the Governor
said that the general political feeling in Kenya was better
than he had ever known it for many years, a statement which
must have surprised many who read it. In truth, the
political situation is now more disturbing and the prospect
more anxious than it has been since 1936.144
As previously mentioned, it was discovered in June of 1952, that the
complexion of the Mau Mau oath changed from one of secrecy and loyalty to
the society, to one requiring specific action, violence and murder. Also
previously mentioned, Governor Mitchell departed his post for retirement
leave on 23 June, nine days after the newly restructured, interim
Legislative Council (proposed during Colonial Secretary Griffiths' visit)
convened. This left the Chief Secretary, Henry Potter, to cope with Kenya's
problems as Acting Governor, until the new Governor took office three
On 10 July, Michael Blundell introduced a motion in the Legislative
Council, calling for decisive action from the administration to control the
organized subversion before it could become unmanageable. He predicted an
attempt to overthrow the government within nine months. That same month the
member for Law and Order (Attorney General) was informed by the Kenya
Commissioner of Police, that indications clearly pointed to planned
insurretion already in effect against the government and the European
population. Yet no action was taken by the administration.146
Majdalany points out a major issue debated as a result of Blundell's
motion. The colony's constituton provided for one man to act as both the
Member for Law and Order (responsible for internal security), and the
Attorney General, a situation which Majdalany describes as awkward. The
position of the European representatives of the Legislature appears to have
been that the Member for Law and Order should be dedicated to enactment of
appropriate Legislation to ensure internal security, without the conflicting
concerns and responsibilities as Attorney General, which lead to, in
Blundell's words, "...tilting and lancing over legal niceties." Majdalany
also states that Blundell revealed the Police Commissioner's unanswered
request to the Member for Law and Order, for more power than currently
possessed by the police.147
The following week Jomo Kenyatta applied for a permit to stage another
KAU rally. According to Glazier, the police requested clearance from the
Member for Law and Order to deny the KAU application, and further, to raid
the KAU headquarters. The police requests were denied and Kenyatta'S permit
was issued,"because of fear of an African General Strike."148
Majdalany and MacPhee agree that the administation issued the permit
conditionally, their primary objective being to coerce Kenyatta into
publicly denouncing Mau Mau at the rally. As with several such government
attempts in the post, Kenyatta foiled this one with more word games. Both
authors also report that Kenyatta appeared to be genuinely concerned about
the violent temper of the crowd, (estimated at 20-25 thousand) which he
could quiet only with great difficulty. The suggestion exists that he
feared more than ever, perhaps a sudden realization, that the militant rank
and file were approaching a stage in time, when he would not longer be
capable of restraining them. His denounciation of violence was accompanied
by,"an appeal for African unity and freedom: recovery of lost lands and
equal rights with Europeans."149
The size, character and makeup of the crowd caused increased concern
among the European population. The sugar cane symbol of Mau Mau was hoisted
above the speaker's platform along with the flag of the KAU. Hoodlums from
the Nairobi underworld, who called themselves askaris, were transported to
the rally in forty buses decorated with Mau Mau symbols. These were
"brought from Nairobi to mingle with the crowds and goad them to a fever
pitch of emotional frenzy," according to Majdalany.150 The result of the
blatant Mau Mau presence (and its violent effect) was government recognition
of the threat, though legal evidence sufficient to justify enactment of
emergency powers was still considered lacking. "It was understandable,"
writes MacPhee, "that the Acting Governor hesitated...especially as Mitchell
had convinced the authorities in London, however wrongly, that the
suggestion that there was serious unrest in Kenya was a fabrication of
mischievous agitators and unscrupulous jounalists."151
On 17 August, Acting Governor Potter gave London its official
notification that all was not well in Kenya. In a letter to an
Under-Secretary in the Colonial Office, Potter identified Mau Mau as a
covert organization intent upon insurrection, and without proof, he named
the KAU and Jomo Kenyatta as the overt orgainzation and leadership
controlling Mau Mau, "in so far as it is suseptible to control." Further,
he advised that he would forward proposals for "drastic
legislation...necessary...to deal with the situation," after consulting with
Another permit was granted in mid to late August for a KAU rally at
Kiambu. This was the government's final attempt to elicite a Mau Mau
denounciation from Kenyatta, which some Europeans considered successful.
Although the East African Standard announced in "bold headlines that
Kenyatta had cursed Mau Mau," Majdalany in convinced that, "his audience had
been left in no doubt that his tongue was in his ceek." Regardless of what
he said or how he said it, Mau Mau terror continued to spread. "Motorized
oathing teams "conducted a fast-paced campaign, which included massive
ceremonies, reportedly initiating groups as large as 800 people. Kikuyu
suspected of informing the authorities were killed and mutilated. On 25
September, five European farms were attacked, buildings were burned, 140
cattle and 240 sheep were maimed or killed. Majdalany describes the method:
The animals were not killed outright, but hamstrung or
partly disembowelled, while others were deeply cut about
the neck, or had one or more legs chopped off at the knee:
but so that they remained alive. Senseless and insensate,
this was the grin of the madness to come...153
Sir Evelyn Baring arrived in Nairobi on 29 September, was sworn into
office on 30 September, and effected the Legislative Council's emergency
measures on 1 October. After a quick tour of the colony to discuss the
current situation with Provincial and District Commissioners, Governor
Baring informed the Secretary of State for Colonies by top secret
telegram, that a State of Emergency should be declared. Majdalany provides
exerpts from a letter of explanation that followed his cable:
I have just returned from a tour and the position is very
serious...now abundantly clear that we are facing a planned
revolutionary movement. If the movement cannot be stopped,
there will be an administrative breakdown followed by
bloodshed amounting to civil war...
... 11 indications are that there will be a planned
assassination of Europeans. Reprisals will then be
absolutely inevitable...Absolute unanimity of opinion that
the instigators of Mau Mau are the leaders of KAU although
some of the leaders of the latter may not be implicated...
We are faced with a formidable organization of violence and
if we wait the trouble will become much worse...
Colonial Office approval reached Nairobi five days later.154
Around the middle of the year, a prominent group of loyalist Kikuyu
undertook a program intended to counteract the psychological effects of the
MAU MAU oath upon Kikuyu who had taken it against their will. In this book,
Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, L.S.B. Leakey gives us some insight as to how this
could be done:
Under certain circumstances...a person could be "cleansed"
from the effects of the oath by an act of ceremonial
purification...More particularly this is true where the
oath in question was taken in some manner contrary to
established law and custom and native practices, which in
fact is the case with every, or nearly every, Mau Mau
Senior Chief Waruhiu was one of the organizers of such cleansing or
purification cermonies, which provided opportunity for Mau Mau initiates to
"get off the hook," so to speak, if they wished to evade the obligations of
the oath without fear of supernatural retribution. On his way home from a
meeting on 7 October, a passing car forced his car to a halt, and he was
shot four times at close range. Warushiu was the first of three Kikuyu
Senior Chiefs to be executed for resisting the Mau Mau movement.156
Governor Baring took charge of the embattled colony in the character
of a Commander-in-Chief. His first ten days in office were spent analysing
the enmey and friendly situation, analysing his mission, and developing
courses of action. Having made his decision to declare a State of
Emergency, he announced his concept of operations to his staff, and the next
ten days were spent in secret, detailed planning. To augment the three
battalions of King African Rifles (KAR) already garrisoned in Kenya,
elements of three more were called in: the 4th Battlaion from Uganda, the
6th minus two companies from Tanganzika, and two companies of the 26th
Battalion from Mauritius.157
On 20 October, Governor Baring officially declared a State of Emergency
at 8:00 P.M., but did not inform the public.
Operation Jock Scott
Under the cover of darkness that evening, the Battalion Headquarters
and one company of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers were flown into
Nairobi from the Suez Canal Zone by twelve Hastings aircraft of the Royal
Operation Jock Scott commenced before midmight on 20 October. The
operation consisted of an organized police roundup of all persons believed
to be leaders of the Mau Mau movement, including Jomo Kenyatta and most of
the top leadership of the Kenya African Union. Sources vary as to the
number of arrests actually made that night, though Governor Baring had
signed 183 arrest and detention warrants. By dawn somewhere between 83 and
112 arrests had been made quietly and without resistance. According to
Majdalany, Jomo Kenyatta was taken directly to the airfield and flown, "to
distant Kapenquria to await trial under heavy guard."159
On the morning of 21 October, Governor Baring announced over the radio
that a State of Emergency had been declared. His announcement, combined
with the sudden and conspicuous presence of Lancashire Fusiliers patroling
the African sectors of Nairobi, did much to ease the minds of the European
citizenry. All sources agree that the government was satisfied that Mau Mau
had been rendered ineffective; nevertheless, the remainder of the 1st
Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was flown in (during the following two days)
and the Kenya Police Reserves as well as the Kenya Regiment, were ordered to
active duty. The Kenya Regiment was a unit of the Territorial Army,
established originally to provide a vehicle whereby young British citizens
living in British East Africa could fulfill their military obligation to the
Crown. Its membership was confined to Kenya-born Europeans, who provided a
source of officers to the KAR during times of war.160
Operation Jock Scott was a police operation, which employed army forces
only in a supporting role. The operation continued for several days, during
which time eleven police raids were conducted and approximately two hundred
suspects were arrested according to Lieutenant Colonel James Crow, U.S.
Army, author of Insurgency: A Case for the Kenya Police.161
The British Royal Navy's cruiser, Kenya, arrived in Mombasa on 23
October with a detachment of Royal Marines. These forces served to
reinforce the resolve, though no Mau Mau activity was ever recorded in
Mombasa.162 The Lancashire Fusiliers were retained in Nairobi for
approximately one month to maintain an aura of British military presence.
Jock Scott Aftermath
It did not take long to determine that the mass arrests failed to crush
the Mau Mau movement. On 22 October, Kikuyu Senior Chief Nderi attempted to
break up a Mau Mau oathing ceremony comprised of an estimated 500 persons.
The crowd turned on him and hacked his body to pieces with pangas,
machette-like swords used by Kikuyu tribesmen. About a week later, Mau Mau
claimed its first white victim, Eric Bowyer, attacking him with pangas while
he was bathing. Bowyer lived on an isolated farm with two African house
servants, who are also killed.163
The problems facing the colonial administration in late 1952 centered
around the question of how to proceed with follow-on operations. It is
assumed from Majdalany's accounts of the situation (reinforced by all other
available sources), that three broad problem areas existed: (1) lack of
intelligence to indicate the enemy's organization, disposition, capabilities
and intentions, all of which resulted in government inability to develop a
strategy, define military objectives and plan appropriate military
operations; (2) a force structure which consisted of a mixed bag of colonial
and British military forces, paramilitary forces, a critically undermanned
and thinly spread colonial police force, and poorly trained, unarmed local
tribal police units; and (3) absence of an integrated command and control
structure to organize and coordinate the overall effort.
It was immediately decided that the colony's only intelligence agency,
Special Branch of the Kenya Police, must be upgraded. For that purpose, the
Director-General of the British Security Service, Sir Percy Sillitoe was
dispatched to Nairobi in an advisory capacity.164
As to problems of force structure, the government had to employ
currently available forces as best they could in the near term. Unable to
determine at that stage how and where offensive action could be applied with
any degree of success, the government chose to assume a defensive posture
until intelligence could be upgraded and security forces properly organized.
The Lancashire Fusiliers were deployed in November to trouble spots in the
Rift Valley Province around Thomson's Falls, Naivasha and Nakuru. The
King's African Rifiles Battalions were deployed mainly in the Native Reserves
of the Central Province, but were also dispatched wherever trouble surfaced,
including Nairobi itself. They army units were spread exceedingly thin, and
continued to operate in a supporting role, with the Kenya Police in charge
of localized peace keeping operations. Meanwhile, the severly understaffed
Kenya Police waged an intensive recruiting and training program. A highly
significant decision made during this period was that which resulted in the
organization of loyalist Kikuyu tribesmen (loyal to the British
administration) into a self-defense force, appropriately named the Home
The third problem area, that relating to command and control of the
overall body of security forces, can best be appreciated after analysis of
the various forces themselves.
The colonial military forces in Kenya have already been briefly
mentioned; i.e. the Kenya Regiment and the King's African Rifles. The Kenya
Regiment, as its name implies, was resident only in Kenya as a paramilitary
officer training battalion. The post-World War II King's African Rifles
were manned by African troops and a mixture of African and British
Non-Commissioned Officers, but supervised by British Officers
exclusively.166 The African troops were recruited from throughout the
British colonies, and the units were responsible to Headquarters, East
African Command in Cairo.167
The Kenya Police comprised a single colonial force with its
headquarters in Nairobi and a chain of command reaching down to the local
station level. Lieutenant Colonel Crow writes that the force, "was headed
by a Commissioner of Police who was assigned by the Colonial Office (in
Great Britain)...(who was) initially responsible to the Member for Law and
Order."168 As with the KAR, Kenya police constables were primarily
Africans, while European Officers occupied the key billets.169
At the beginning of the emergency, the central headquarters in Nairobi
was composed of a Criminal Investigation Department, and Inspection
Department, a Training Department, a Department of Supply Services and
Workshops (logistics), a Signals Branch and a Special Branch. The Special
Branch was the intelligence gathering agency of the colony, which up until
1945 was a part of the Criminal Investigation Department. Upon
establishment as a separate branch, it remained subordinate to the
Commissioner of Police, but the Director of Special Branch was obligated to
address all reports, "directly to the member for Law and Order with copies
to the Commissioner and other interested agencies." In 1947 attempts were
made to expand Special Branch so as to provide the provinces with an
intelligence staff capability. That attempt failed due to insufficient
operating funds, resulting only in minor staff expansion in Nairobi and
assignment of two Specialist Officers outside of Nairobi.170
Subordinate to the Central Headquarters were the police elements
responsible for security in Nairobi, as well as an Area Police Headquarters
for each of seven Administrative Provinces, commanded by Assistant
Commissioners of Police. The police organizational structure paralleled the
colonial administrative structure, and can be more clearly illustrated
graphically than described:
Click here to view image
The Kenya Police Reserve (KPR) mainly consisted of volunteers who had
served during World War II as members of the Auxiliary Police Force. They
were called to active duty at the start of the emergency and played a major
role in the campaign against Mau Mau as they manned newly organized police
units in remote, outlying areas.172
Prior to the emergency, the Kenya Police primarily occupied themselves
with maintaining order in the towns, leaving security of the native reserve
areas to the Tribal Police. Tribal Police were all-African forces of
tribesmen employed by individual District Commissioners to provide local
security within their own tribal areas. Though they were highly effective
during peaceful times, they were subjected to severe intimidation and some
degree of bribery during the Mau Mau period. Their effectiveness improved
vastly after they became coordinated with the new Home Guard units and
supported by the new special units of the KPR. 173
The white settlers in the outlying areas were frightened for their
lives and the physical security of their property. They had been totally
dissatisfied with the inadequate security they had received from the
colonial administration from 1948 through 1952. Comprised of a mixture of
retired military professionals, short term veterans of two world wars,
semi-professional safari guides and experienced hunters in the African bush,
many settlers organized paramilitary forces determined to hunt down Mau Mau
themselves. MacPhee records a meeting in the White Highlands at which
settlers demanded the immediate shooting of 50,000 Kikuyu until they were
literally killed into submission.174 Such organizations were discouraged by
the government, but it was not possible to either eliminate or control them
totally. Organizations termed Farm Guards were actively supported by the
government as self-defense forces. Eventually a system of signal flares and
various other alarm devices were coordinated with special units of the Kenya
Police Reserve, who would rush to the aid of the Farm Guards and/or settlers
Majdalany records interesting accounts of aging retired military
officers, aroused by the nostalgic atmosphere of battle, suddenly arriving
uninvited upon the scene of firefights and attempting to assume tactical
command of the action. One particular area was so heavily populated by
retired generals, admirals and air marshalls, that the young police and
military officers referred to it as "Blood-pressure Ridge," an area
undesireable to operate in because of the frequent lectures on tactics and
military conduct received there.176
Command and Control Reorganization
October 1952-January 1953
Headquarters, East African Command was located in Cairo, a situation
which separated the regular military forces from their administrative and
logistical support by an unexceptable degree in terms of time and distance.
Although the governor of Kenya apparently had some form of operational
authority over the military forces, he had no professional military
expertise on his staff, and the military staffs in Cairo were too far
removed from the scene to be of any real operational worth.
The Member for Law and Order was the primary responsible member of the
governor's Executive Council for counter-insurgency and general peace
keeping operations. As already mentioned, he was also the Attorney General,
an unacceptable arrangement because he was simultaneouly in charge of the
colony's police force and the colony's judicial system. The interests of
the two responsibilities often conflicted, and as a trained lawyer without
police training or experience, his judicial interests generally received
precedence over the interests of operational law enforcement. Upon
declaration of the State of Emergency the conflict became more serious, in
that all forces, including the military, operated in support of the police
under the authority of the Member for Law and Order.
While the Kenya Police command structure paralleled the colonial
government's organization of provinces, districts, divisions and locations,
there was little close coordination actually conducted between government
administrators and police officials outside of Nairobi prior to the
emergency. In an effort to integrate operational efforts in the fall of
1952, Governor Baring instituted a triumvirate system of "Sitrep Committees"
at all levels of government. Composed of administrative, police and
military officials of equal rank, the Sitrep Committees were tasked with
analysing the situation, formulating plans to counter the threat and
directing opertions accordingly at each command level.177
In late January of 1953, Brigadier W.R.N. Hinde set aside his plans to
retire in favor of a proffered assignment as Military Advisor to the
Governor of Kenya, and an accompanying promotion to Major General. Hinde
had established a distinctive tactical reputation during World War II as
commander of the "Desert Rats," the armored brigade of the British Seventh
Armoured Division. He later developed a reputation as a man of "great
patience and diplomatic skill," both after the war in Berlin as the Deputy
Director of Military Government, and as Chief Civil Affairs Advisor to the
Commander-in-Chief, Middle East Land Forces during evacuation of the Canal
Zone Base in Egypt. The white settler community welcomed such a man to
Kenya with tremendous relief. Majdalany writes that Major General Hinde's
briefing from CINC Middle East Land Forces amounted to little more than,
"You're chief staff officer to the Governor; your job is to jolly them
along." Majdalany goes on to comment that the CINC's comment was, "a wry
hint that getting a number of disparate elements to work smoothly together
in this land of individualists was likely to be th main task in the early
stages of the assignment, which, in effect, was to take charge of operations
on the Governor's behalf..."178
Major General Hinde arrived in Kenya to find a bitter white settler
population, who blamed the entire Mau Mau emergency on the ignorance of
Governor Mitchell's administration, including the Members of the Executive
Council currently serving Governor Baring. Because the government had not
yet taken the offensive and Mau Mau terrorism was still on the rise, the
settlers could not see that and forward strides had been made by the new
Governor. In fact Governor Baring had taken decisive steps, as described in
preceeding pages, but time was needed for the buildup of intelligence and
internal security forces. It was Major General Hinde's job to pull the
"disparate elements" together behind a unified operational effort, get a
handle on the enemy situation, take away their initiative, and prepare to
take the offensive. This job took longer than even he imagined.179
Major General Hinde's title was changed to Director of Operations
within a few weeks of his arrival in Kenya. The Governor remained in the
capacity of Commander-in-Chief, and the Kenya Police remained in charge of
operations, with the military forces in support of the police. A major
change effected was the shift of responsibility for internal sucurity from
the Member for Law and Order to the Chief Secretary, who Paget described as
the equivalent of a Prime Minister under the Governor. The Attorney General
was then able to function soley as the judicial Member of the Executive
Council, and the title "Member for Law and Order" was discarded. The
Director of Operations and the Chief Secretary worked together to ensure
thorough coordination of operational and administrative efforts. The Sitrep
Committees were renamed Emergency committees, which were structured
basically in the same way, but were more fully staffed with emphasis on
controlling operations at every level from top to bottom.180
An additional measure worth mentioning is the establishment of
Emergency Regulations during January which defined Prohibited Areas and
Security Areas. Prohibited Areas were declared in the forested areas of
Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Mountains and Eburru. Anyone sighted in a
Prohibited Area was assumed to be a Mau Mau and shot without any questions
asked. Security Areas were declared throughout the Kikuyu Reserve. Anyone
who failed to halt when challenged in a Security Area was assumed to be a
Mau Mau and shot.181
A. Marshall MacPhee writes that, "the restrictive measures imposed on
the Kikuyu precipitated the revolt the Government sought to prevent."182
By the time Major General Hinde became Director of Operations, it was
apparent that the emergency was not a colony-wide situation; rather, it was
confined to about one-sixteenth of the colony's area, including Nairobi, all
districts of the Central Province ard three districts of the Rift Valley
Province. The battle area amounted to approximately 14,000 square miles,
described roughly by a square of 120 miles on each side. The participants,
Mau Mau and victims of Mau Mau alike, were mainly Kikuyu and neighboring
Meru and Embu tribesmen. The key terrain features were the Aberdare
Mountain Range in the west central portion of the battle area and Mount
Kenya in the northeast, both of which were heavily forested, and a forest
belt extending south and east of the mountains. Consistent with ancient
Kikuyu customs, the Mau Mau had withdrawn to the forested Mountains to
organize for battle. After Operation Jock Scott, the forest "gangs," as
most authors refer to them, grew in number as Mau Mau fled Nairobi to avoid
arrest. Intelligence by that time indicated that a Mau Mau Central
Committee existed in Nairobi from which operations were directed. The
rationale at the time was that the Central Committee established itself, "in
place of the original leaders now in detention," referring to the arrest of
Jomo Kenyatta and the KAU leadership rounded up during Operation Jock Scott.
The intelligence estimate indicated that declaration of the emergency caught
the Mau Mau off guard before they were ready for an organized revolution,
and no large scale operations were planned for the near future. Meanwhile
it was anticipated that isolated attacks upon European farms would continue,
and major Mau Mau efforts would be directed toward intimidation of Kikuyu,
Embu and Meru who refused to take the Mau Mau oath.
MacPhee records that the initiative belonged to Mau Mau throughout
1953. Like most authors, he credits Dedan Kimathi and Stanley Methange with
initially organizing and training the Mau Mau's "Land and Freedom Army"
after fleeing Nairobi in 1952 to avoid arrest. Other authors allege that
they were sent there by the Central Committee before the emergency was
declared, with the express mission of organizing the army.184
Mau Mau Terrorism: 1953
The following accounts were obtained from State of Emergency.
On 1 January, Charles Hamilton Ferguson and Richard Bingley sat down to
late evening dinner at Ferguson's remote farm house in the Thomson Falls
area. Before they could begin eating, the houseboy admitted a gang of Mau
Mau. Ferguson's hand was chopped off before he could fire the pistol it
held, and both men were slashed and dismembered.185
On the evening of 2January, Mau Mau attacked a farmhouse near Nyeri
which was occupied by Mrs. Kitty Hesselberger and Mrs. Raynes Simpson. Mrs.
Simpson was seated in a chair facing the door, with a pistol on the arm of
her chair. When the houseboy entered the room in a suspicious manner, Mrs.
Simpson intuitively picked up the pistol only seconds before a Mau Mau gang
came through the door. Her first shot killed the leader who was charging
her with a raised panga, and her second shot distracted another whose panga
was about to fall upon Mrs. Hesselberger. Mrs. Simpson continued to fire
methodically at the attacker, giving Mrs. Hesselberger time to pick up a
nearby shotgun, which prompted the gang's hasty retreat. Hearing noises in
the adjoining bathroom, both womem fired through the wall. A blood trail
through the open bathroom window indicated they at least wounded one; three
dead Mau Mau were left behind.186
Two days later Chief Hinga was murdered while recuperating in a
government hospital from wounds he received in an earlier clash with Mau
Mau. An additional thirty-four Africans were murdered during the first two
weeks of 1953.187
On the night of 24 January, Mau Mau captured headlines around the world
with an attack upin the Ruck farm. The pattern was basically the same, the
attack occurring in the evening around 9:00 P.M. with the aid of African
employees. Mr. Ruck was summoned from the dinner table by one of his farm
hands, who said he had caught an intruder outside. He was struck down as he
went outside to investigate. His shouts prompted his wife to grab a shotgun
before going to the door, but she was seized before she could fire. Their
mutilated bodies were found close together outside. Before leaving, the Mau
Mau ransacked the house and found six year old Michael Ruck in bed.
Majdalany comments that the police photograph of the boy's body, "is
something unlikely to be surpassed in grievous nauseating horror."188
Large Scale Mau Mau Operations
The only two large scale operations carried out by Mau Mau were
executed on the same night, 26 March 1953. This seems strange when
considered in light of the fact that many authors characterize Mau Mau as a
complex, nationalist political organization, having, a Central Committee to
direct operations, an Active Wing and a Passive Wing built upon a classical
cell structure system, a multi-division Land and Freedom Army, and a master
plan to achieve Kenyan independence.
Apparently every author who addresses the Mau Mau emergency includes a
description of the Lari Massacre and the Raid on Naivasha Police Station.
Every source researched had differing accounts of the operations, with
differences in detail ranging from minor to incredibly major. Only three
available sources are reasonably consistent in detail (e.g. dates, times,
number of attackers and victims, etc.), though each offers a different
degree of discussion concerning specific aspects. Therefore the following
accounts are drawn primarily from the works of Majdalany, and supported by
MacPhee and Paget.
The Raid on Naivasha Police Station broke the tactical pattern that Mau
Mau had established over more than a year. Previously their targets had
been restricted to isolated farms or villages having limited defenses and
offering minimal risks. Generally they employed small units of five to
fifteen men and were aided by an "inside man." The settlement of Naivasha,
on the other hand, was defended in the sense that military and police posts
had existed near there for quite some time. The area was a significant
communications node where a major road junction and the railway came
together. The police station itself was not heavily defended or fortified.
Its compound was surrounded by a low wall of mud and stone, with firing
posts at each corner of the square enclosure. Recently the wall had been
reinforced in thickness and height and agumented with barbed wire. An
inspecting officer thereafter ordered that the barbed wire should be
reconstructed for better protection, but the job was not yet complete on 26
March. At 2130 approximately 85 Mau Mau crept close to the wall and found
two vulnerable places in the barbed wire. The watchtower sentry was shot
and raiders poured through the wire in two groups, followed by a truck. One
group charged the office and killed the duty clerk. Four guards in an
adjacent room escaped through the window unharmed. Why they were inside
instead of patrolling the compound, and why they put up no defense is not
stated in the references. However, it was noted that nearly all the men in
the compound were new recruits with little or no training, and combat
experience whatever. The second group that breached the wire went for the
armory and seized as many weapons and as much ammunition as they could
carry. These were loaded into the truck they had brought with them as well
as another truck found inside the compound. Meanwhile other raiders
breached the nearby detention camp and released 173 prisoners. The firing
awakened the ramainder of the police in their barracks, who ran to draw
their weapons from the armory, but too late. Like the four guards in the
station house, they fled unharmed when they saw the overwhelming number of
Mau Mau. Upon withdrawl from the compound, the raiders could not start the
truck they had found there, and it had to be abandoned. Neverthless, the
hauled away twenty-nine rifles, eighteen automatic weapons and an
undetermined amount of ammunition, a major acquisition for Mau Mau. The
operation was completed within twenty minutes without any Mau Mau
casualties; only two policeman were killed.189
Just about the time that the raiders were withdrawing from the police
compound, another Mau Mau force was moving into attack positions 30 miles
south-southeast of Naivasha and 25 miles northwest of Nairobi. There, not
far from the railway, was the administrative location or Lari, which
consisted of a 7 mile stretch of elongated fingers separated by shallow
draws. Withn these fingers and draws were scattered many Kikuyu
homesteads, each consisting of three to five family huts enclosed by fences.
Police intelligence sources revealed on 18 March that the Lari homesteads
would be attacked, because the population there was predominantly anti-Mau
Mau, and a majority of the men were members of the Kikuyu Home Guard.
Consequently a detailed defense plan was developed, which included a KAR
company assigned to critical defensive positions. However, the company
received orders from Nairobi to redeploy on 26 March, in order to avert
anticipated trouble at the Athi River prison,approximately forty miles to
the south. The local Home Guard detachment of 150 men were out on patrol in
the forest, rather than guarding the perimeter, when the Mau Mau force
estimated at 1000 men moved into attack positions. The positions had been
spaced along the entire even mile stretch, enabling all homesteads to be
attacked simultaneously. The force was subdivided into attack units, each
of which was assigned a specific homestead. Each attack unit was composed
of three subunits with specific tasks: one subunit bound the huts with
cable to prevent the doors from opening, another subunit soaked the huts
with fuel and ignited them, and the third subunit attacked fleeing victims
who managed to escape the flames. The official count of Kikuyu dead was 84,
but many corpses were so completely hacked apart and scattered around that
the count was questionable. There were only 31 survivors, all of whom were
wounded and described by Majdalany as, "horribly wounded and scarred for
life." Because many of the male inhabitants were out on patrol with the
Home Guard, two-thirds of the victims were women and children. Over 200
huts were burned and approximately 1000 cattle were maimed in the
A New War, A New Choice
The reactions to the Naivasha and Lari operations let to the
strengthening of both the government forces and those of Mau Mau.
The uncontested success of the raid on Naivasha police station made it
clear that the rapid buildup of the police force left much to be desired in
terms of quality. More reinforcement by experienced military forces was
The horror of the Lari massacre resulted in a maximum effort to rout
out Mau Mau wherever and whoever they might be--intelligence still had not
provided a clear picture of the enemy. Joint forces of police, military and
civilian African loyalists began conducting massive blind sweeps through the
forests in search of Mau Mau forces, which resulted in very few sightings
and fewer kills.191 Massive roundups and screenings were conducted in the
reserves and in Nairobi. The 1953 volume of Facts On File--World News
Digest with Index reports, "6000 Africans in the shanty villiage of
Kariobangi (near Nairobi) were rounded up for questioning April 24 and their
village was ordered destroyed by bulldozers. 7000 natives in tow villages
northeast of Nairobi were evicted April 17 and their homes were leveled
similarly April 19. The area was called Nairobi's Mau Mau
The Kikuyu Reserves began to swell with displaced families in midyear,
largely due to the above-stated action as well as two further causes
recorded by MacPhee. The Kikuyu Registration Ordnance was enacted, which
required all Kikuyu living outside the reserves to carry government issued
identification papers which bore photographs. Word was passed among the
people by Mau Mau activists, to resist the government order to be
photographed. Rater than invite retribution from Mau Mau, Kikuyu returned
to the reserves from all over the colony. Additionally, European farmers
who now feared personal attack more than ever dismissed their farm labor
force, which accounted for thousands more returning to the reserves.193
The sudden overcrowding of the reserves by tens of thousands of
homeless Kikuyu created major administrative problems for the governemt, and
a new source of bitter, frustrated recruits for Mau Mau. This situation is
probably the major reason why the Land and Freedom Army reached its
estimated peak force of 15,000 members in 1953.
According to most authors, the most significant results of the Lari
massacre were the realizations which the brutal, indescriminate slaughter
created in the minds of the African people.
First of all the realization dawned that Mau Mau was directing its
predominent forces of terror not against the Europeans who administered
colonial rule, nor against any of the major colonial economic assets or
political institutions. Mau Mau was at war with African people, Kikuyu, who
would not participate in or support violent revolution.
Secondly the realization was awakened that Kikuyu, and Africans in
general, could not continue to sit on the political fence with their
sympathies dangling on both sides. Mid 1953 became a year of
commitment--either to join Mau Mau or to fight against it. Regardless of
how desireable the rather fuzzy concept of independence from colonial rule
may have been for most Kikuyu, independence was no longer the critical issue
of choice in choosing sides. The choice was wheather to join the brutal,
irrational force which terrorized its own people, or to fight for survivial
against that maniacal force. As a result, the Home Guard units grew in size
and resolve at probably a faster rate than did the Land and Freedom Army.
MacPhee's words may best express the situation: "Whatever use the
Government made in publicising the Lari Massacre to the world, the fact
remains that it was the turning point against Mau Mau; many more rallied to
the Kikuyu Guard and from this time on Mau Mau would meet increasing
reisitance from the people they sought to liberate.194
The decision was made at that point by Major General Hinde to issue
government firearms to the Kikuyu Home Guard and to assign a Colonel to
formally train, organize and command them. The issuance of firearms had
always been considered too much of a securtiy risk, because it was feared
that they would fall into the hands of Mau Mau. Major General Hinde's
decision in this regard turned out to be one of the most profitable
decisions of the conflict period.195
A New Command and An Offensive Strategy
On 7 June 1953 The War Office in London established a new and
independent command, appointing General Sir George Erskine as
Commander-in-Chief East Africa. In so doing, all ties were broken between
the froces in Kenya and Headquarters Middle East Command in Cairo, Egypt.
From that time forward CINC East Africa reported directly to the War Office.
As CINC East Africa, General Erskine's authority included command of
"all Colonial, Auxiliary, Police and Securtiy Forces," but excluded
authority over civil administration, which remained under the authority of
Governor Baring. The significance of this action was that a single
commander could exercise direct operational control of a joint force, and
thus could better ensure unity of effort than was possible under the
trimumvirate system. General Erskine determined that even though his
intelligence was still deficient in both quantity and quality of
information, the time was right to take the initiative. He established an
offensive plan with rather hazy objectives, but an offensive plan,
The plan called for the KAR battalions, by then designated 70 East
Africa Brigade, to continue operating with the Kikuyu Reserves. They would
assist the Home Guard with their defensive buildup as well as conduct
offensive operations as the opportunities arose. The remainder of his
forces were formed into three striking forces: (1) 39 Infantry Brigade,
composed of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling
Fusiliers who arrived in April, were deployed to the forested Prohibited
Area of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares; (2) one East Africa Independent
Armoured Car (EAAC) Squadron and the 156 HAA Battery, East African Artillery
were imployed as a mobile force in the open country of the Central Province;
and (3) a Royal Air Force flight of Harvard aircraft were mainly used to
conduct H&I bombing and aerial surveillance in the forested areas.197
It is generally expressed by all sources researched that Erskine's
initial offensive attempts were not very productive in terms of killed or
captured Mau Mau. The British troops were unaccustomed to the mountainous
forest terrain which they encountered; the intelligence provided no hint as
to the location of the Mau Mau forces in 1500 square miles of dense foliage,
and the military formations were much too large, slow and noisy as they
labored their way through the undergrowth to ever hope to "discover"
occupied Mau Mau camps. The random bombing of the forests was condemned by
many naturalists as being fruitlessly distructive to vegetation and
wildlife, and in truth there was a practical side to their complaints.
Majdalany suggests that wounded and frightened elephants, rhinos and buffalo
inflicted more casualties on the European soldiers during thier first weeks
in the mountains than did Mau Mau.199
Yet the move to the offensive was productive in the sense that it not
only gained valuable experience for the troops involved, but it kept the Mau
Mau busy with escape and evasion rather than allowing them a chance to
become better organized and conduct raids at will. Furthermore, the
offensive operations provide the government forces with an opportunity to
throw off the stigma of impotence that the administration had developed in
the eyes of the settler population, through years of neglect and inaction
during the rise of Mau Mau.
In March of 1954, the command structure within Kenya underwent a change
whereby the Emergency Committee at the Colony level was replaced by a War
Cabinet, which streamlined the top level decision making process. The War
Cabinet was composed of only the Governor, Deputy Governor, the
Commander-in-Chief, and a representative of the European community, Michael
Blundell (described by MacPhee as the Minister without Portfolio) who had
become one of the most powerful men in Kenya as the voice of the settler
Paget notes that the War Cabinet was supported by other working groups,
including a Secretariet of civil and military officers, and an Emergency
Joint Staff which performed the planning and coordinaton functions on behalf
of the War Cabinet. The Emergency Committees, as reinforced and overhauled
by Major General Hinde, continued in effect at the Province and District
Around the same time the "Lyttelton Plan" for restructuring the
colonial constitution was introduced to provide government representation
for all the major racial groups. MultI-racial representation created great
fervor in all colonial constituencies. The following excerpt from Kenya
sheds some light on the problems encourtered:
Although the Lyttelton constitution had the initial support
of the European Elected Members' Association, it later
caused a split among the settlers which was never to be
healed: there were the liberal multi-racists under
Blundell who saw in the new constitution a national
Government of all races; and the independently minded who
considered it the thin edge of the wedge and the end of the
European supremacy. The European elected members had
accepted the Lyttelton constitution reluctaintly and only
as means of divorcing Kenya from Colonial Office
control...The African members for their part, while
promised that ways and means of initiating direct elections
for Africans would be studied, refused to accept the
Lyttelton constitution on the grounds that it treated them
as third class citizens.
MacPhee asserts that despite the turmoil created initially, a political
truce was declared, and the government emerged in a much stronger position,
better prepared to oppose the Mau Mau movement.201
Surrender Negotiations-Operation Wedgewood
Early in 1954 Waruhiu Itote was wounded and captured in a skirmish
southwest of Mount Kenya, near Karatina. Itote was the renowned "General
China," leader of the Land and Freedom Army forces long known to be
dominating the area around Mount Kenya. After intensive interrogation and
psychological manipulation by Assistant Superintendant Ian Henderson of
Special Branch, Itote was persuaded to attempt to negotiate a mass surrender
of the Mount Kenya forces. Nearly two months were spent in contacting local
passive wing contacts and passing messages back and forth by courier, but a
summit meeting was finally arranged for 20 March at the forest edge.
General China was taken to the meeting in an armoured car, which scared off
the Mau Mau representatives when they sighted it. Not long after, "General"
Kaleba and "General" Tanganyika, Mau Mau leaders subordinate to China were
captures and subsequently convinced to aid in surrender negotiations.
Kaleba went back into the forest to assure the meeting delegates that no
trap had been intended, and arranged another meeting for 30 March. This
time there was no armoured car, and five Mau Mau delegates were transported
to Nyeri by Ian Hendersin, unarmed, in two Land Rovers. The meeting was
held in the Provincial Commissioner's office, attended by Ian Henderson
representing Special Branch, the Chief Native Commissioner representing the
Governor, and the ARmy Chief of Staff. The government'S surrender terms
were simple and not particularly beneficent: those who surrendered would
not be executed, leaders would be imprisoned indefinitely, rank and file not
proven to be hard core terrorists would be "grandually repatriated." A ten
day cease fire within the Mount Kenya Prohibited Area was declared in order
to allow time for the leaders to make their decision and gather in their
followers. Those who chose to surrender had until 10 April to do so. On 5
April it was learned that the Mau Mau delegates who attended the Nyeri
meeting had been apprehended by another Mau Mau "General" named Gatamuki,
who opposed the idea of surrender. Ian Henderson and Bernard Ruck, another
Special Branch Officer entered the Prohibited Area unarmed to contact
leaders they had learned about in the course of Negotiations with China,
kaleba and Tanganyika. Before they had clarified whether the delegates had
made any contracts before their capture, "Murphy" struck. A "large gang was
sighted in the Reserves, two miles from the forest." This was outside the
Prohibited Area where the cease fire had been declared, and security forces
were ordered to attack. Twenty-five Mau Mau were killed and nine captured,
including Gatamuki. Under interrogation, Gatamuki revealed that the
captured delegates had convinced him of the wisdom of surrendering.
Conditions in the forest were becoming difficult, morale was low, supplies
and munitions were becoming more difficult to acquire, the Home Guard were
becoming effecive in preventing access to the Reserves for resupply, and
information flow between Mau Mau forces had become extremely poor (General
China himself was initially surprised to learn the Kimathi's forces were
intact and still operating in the Aberdares). Gatamuki claimed that he was
unaware that he had been outside of the cease fire area, and further claimed
that approximately 2800 Mau Mau, in two separate groups, were assembling to
surrender when they were fired upon. There were many who suspected that
Gatamuki's story was contrived and he had no intention of surrender. In any
case, no Mau Mau did surrender by 10 April, and it can be assumed that the
attack on Gatamuki's forces was a major reason for the failure of Operation
Wedgewood. Why more discretion was not exercised by the security forces
before attacking is open to speculaion. In truth they were outside of the
Cease Fire Area as defined, but it would seem reasonable under those
circumstances, that responsible men would have made some sort of inquiry
before initiating an attack, if indeed the government's surrender offer were
Late in 1953 it became apparent to General Erskine and the War Cabinet that
Nairobi was still as much a breeding ground of Mau Mau as it had ever been.
Intelligence sources continually pointed to the city as the location of a
Central Committee, as well as the headquarters and logistics source of the
Land and Freedom Army. Though the Mau Mau forces had chosen the forested
mountains as their battleground, General Erskine was determined that he
should take the battle to Nairobi with the objective being to wipe out the
headquarters and further isolate the battlefield. By the end of January
1954, and outline plan for Operation Anvil had been prepared, which scheduled
April for execution. The original plan called for a roundup of all Kikuyu.
This plan was abandoned for several reasons, the main ones being lack of
sufficient resources in terms of manpower and detention camps, and more
significant was the fact that there were still so many legitimately employed
Kikuyu in Nairobi. It was feared by the administration that the city would
be ground to a halt by such extreme measures.203
On 24 April five British battalions and elements of the KAR cordoned
off the exits tot he entire city of Nairobi to prevent entry or exit.
Police then conducted methodical house to house searches of the city, block
by block, section by section. As each sector search was completed, military
forces moved in to cordon off the complete sector. All Kikuyu, Embu and
Meru identification papers were checked for authenticity, employment
references were checked, and buildings were ransacked in search of concealed
weapons and ammunition. All suspicious persons were packed off of a
reception camp at Langata, five miles from Nairobi; where they were more
As part of the screening process, suspects were paraded past lines of
hooded government informers, who pointed out "know Mau Mau." The readily
apparent weakness in such a system is the possibility of an informer
pointing out persons against whom some personal grudge was held.205
Nevertheless, approximately 30,000 suspects were so screened in the
first two weeks, and Paget reports that just over half of the number were
sent off to detention camps at Machinnon Road or Manyani. Approximately
2500 dependents of detainees were shipped off to the already overcrowded
Follow up operations continued for a second two week period, during
which time sectors judged to be particularly suspicious were researched, and
new identification papers believed to be less susceptible to forgery were
issued to those target tribesmen who were permitted to remain in the
Further screenings of the same sort were conducted in the native
reserves, in an effort to further isolate the enemy. More suspects were
detained, and more Africans fearing detention fled to the forest to join the
Mau Mau forces. By that time the Home Guard had become well enough
organized to take over the responsibility of self-defense, and after
screenings were completed, government troops were withdrawn for offensive
operations in the forest. Convinced that the enemy forces were finally
isolated in the forest, two further programs were instituted. The first was
an organized effort to deny the Mau Mau access to food. For this purpose a
fifty mile long trench was excavated along the edge of the forest, which was
booby trapped, lined with barbed wire and guarded by police posts at half
mile intervals. Additionally, the government required farmers to keep their
cattle enclosed a night and to stop growing crops within three miles of the
forest. The second program required the relocation of Kikuyu homesteads
that were scattered among the foothills, such as those described at Lari.
Relocation was necessary in order to group the people closer together in
villages, which could be more effectively protected by the Home Guard. The
older and more traditional Kikuyu were the most resistant to relocation. AS
in the background history of the Kikuyu, the bones and spirits of ancestors
rested under the hearths of the traditional Kikuyu homes.208
The Final Thrusts
The final large scale operations of the emergency took place during the
first quarter of the 1953 calendar year. The strategy at that point was
based on the premise that the enemy had been effectively isolated, and the
time had come to run him ground. The tactics employed were a return to
the sweep operations which had been less that successful in the past. The
difference in 1955 was the isolation trenches and police forces at the
forest edge were waiting to ambush the elusive enemy.
Operation Hammer was conducted during the month of January. A division
sized force swept through the Aberdare Mountain Range on line at relatively
close interval. The obvious problems encountered were the rugged terrain,
the dense foliage, the wide expanse of space required to be covered and the
government forces' relative lack of familiarity with the terrain, as
compared to the Mau Mau who lived there. The sweeps passed over concealed
and camouflaged Mau Mau, who were then able to strike from behind and
escape, or simply remain undetected altogether. The operation succeeded in
netting only 161 Mau Mau killed, captured or surrendered.209
Operation First Flute took place during the months of February, March
and early April in the forest of Mount Kenya. Recognizing the problems
experienced in Hammer, Assistant Deputy for Operations, Major General Hinde
proposed a new approach, which divided the division-sized force into
component units of various sizes. Units were assigned specific areas of
operation in which they lived, and with which they became intimately
familiar. Majdalany remarks that the soldiers came to refer to their daily
routine of patrols as "flogging the forest," presumably because their
efforts over a two month period produced only 277 Mau Mau killed, captured
or surrendered. The total was almost twice that of Hammer, but four times
as many days were spent to achive it. Paget reports that, "it was
estimated that every dead Mau Mau cost L 10,000!"210
The failure of these large scale operations to ferret out the Mau Mau
was hard on troop morale and perhaps even more depressing to the planners.
The only great success achieved was the breakup of Mau Mau forces into small
elusive gangs of fugitives who became more concerned with survival than
anything else. Those gangs could be easily defeated in a fire fight by a
small assault force, if only they could be found.
Special Branch came up with the answer. Ian Henderson and Frank Kitson
had been using captures Mau Mau to advantage for quite some time. The
manipulation of General China and his subordinates had revealed many
contaacts in the reserves, who were exploited for further names and
information, which led to more captures in a sort of pyramid game. They
began employing Mau Mau defectors in more and more activeroles, to the point
where they were using the defectors of specific gangs as patrol guides to
hunt the gangs down. Out of this evolved small tactical groups which they
referred to as "pseudo gangs." These were composed of only a few special
force officers and rounded out with captured or surrendered Mau Mau who were
willing to not only betray their former comrades in arms, but to shoot them
down on sight. MacPhee makes the following comment regarding their
It was the most successful and, in terms of manpower and
effort, the most economical way of eliminating the remnants
of the Mau Mau militant wing from the forests: by the end
of the year, twenty-four out of the fifty-one listed forest
leaders had been captured and the total strength of the
Land and Freedom Armies reduced to about 2,000.211
Conventional military forces were then dedicated to small unit
operations amounting to limited patrols and ambushes. Police units
continued to patrol the forest edges to prevent Mau Mau from
emerging to seek food or refuge in the reserves, and Home Guard
units built formidable defensive barriers around the newly completed
Paget reports a final addition to the emergency's taactical
methods--the population sweep. In his words, "The local population
was now no longer passive and the end of the revolt was near." Tens
of thousands of Africans would turn out at well advertised times and
places to conduct shoulder-to-shoulder on-line sweeps of the forest,
with panags in hand. The women were the most enthusiastic
supporters of this technique, and Paget claims they would go
laughing and singing through the bush until a fugitive was flushed,
whereupon the police supervisors had to move with great haste if
they desired to recover the victim before he was chopped into very
By the fall of 1956, the mau Mau terrorists still at large
numbered only 500. The final chapter of the emergency is the story
of the campaign to hunt down Dedan Kimathi, the infamous commander
of the Aberdare forces. The government tasked Ian Henderson with
that specific task, which took nine months to complete. Majdalany's
description of the end is most appropriate:
On 17 October 1956 Kimathi was wounded by Henderson's men
but succeeded in escaping through the forest, and after
travelling non-stop for just under twenty-eight hours and
covering nearly eighty miles, he collapsed near the forest
fringe. There he remained for three days, hiding in the
day time, foraging for food at night. Early on the 21st he
was found and challenged by a tribal policeman who fired
three times at his hitting him with the third shot. He was
then captured, in his leopard skin coat, and in due course
brought to trial and sentenced to death.213
The insurrection against the government, which was the major fear
expressed in 1952, never materialized. The participants in the violence
were almost exclusively Kikuyu, Embu and Meru, tribes which sharead a
kinship of territorial proximity, characteristic and traditional similarity,
and cultural impact by the presence of the Europeans. The violence never
took on a national charater: Only one-fifth of the population of Kenya
were involved. It does not appear that the Mau Mau ever targeted colonial
government officials or installations, which would be expected ot them if
overthrow of the government was their ultimate ojective. Except for the
raid for weapons at the police station in Nairobi, no government
installations were attacked, no public utilities were disrupted, no railways
or other communications systems were destroyed. Statistics available from
all sources agree that during the entire emergency period (up to the end of
1956), European civilian casualties totaled only 32 killed and 26 wounded.
It could be argued that the government forces so successfully isolated the
enemy, that no chance was afforded to strike out against government
installations and the general population of Europeans. However, the
opportunity surely existed, had the will been there, to cripple Nairobi
severly before Operation Anvil took place.
Statistics also agree that 1817 African civilians were killed and 910
were wounded during the same period. Certainly the African population
received the bulk of the Mau Mau wrath, and in the end, the Africans
themselves played a highly significant role in ending the hostilities. The
Home Guard and Tribal Police units cleaned out the Native Reserves, and once
properly relocated and organized they successfully defended against attack
and passive support. The statistics indicate that among the security
forces, Africans were the ones who bore the brunt of battle against the Mau
Mau in the field, with 524 killed and 465 wounded, as opposed to European
casualities of 63 killed and 102 wounded.214
It is not intended to attempt presentation of conclusive evidence that
a war of national revolution was never planned by the political nationalists
in 1952. To do so is probably not possible, and in any case would serve no
purpose in this text. What is intended is to point harshly to the fact that
the colonial government did not know what was going on around it, or did not
care, or both. Having no functional intelligence system prevented them from
being able to distinguish between legitimate grievances and contrived
instigations, between bona fide moderate nationalists and radical subversive
militants. When hostilities finally erupted, the government could not
identify the enemy, and the security forces had to make broad brush sweeps
in the dark until they could develop an intelligence system.
On the positive side, it appears to have been a wise decision to permit
the Kenya Police to direct operations in the early stages and use the
military forces in support. The hostilities were clearly an internal
problem, which properly should by handled by internal security forces. The
fact that hostilities were permitted to rise to a level requiring military
intervention does not so much warrant condemnation of the administratiions's
failure to permit the police to act at an earlier time, with more force in
the proper places.
Tactically the Kenya experience illustrates the folly of employing
large bodies of general purpose forces to conduct blind sweeps through
unfamiliar terrain. The small unit operations, conducted by Africans who
knew how to maneuver the terrain, led by special force police officers,
supported by specific intelligence and directed against specific objectives
were the ideal combination of tactical elements for success.
Strategically the formation of a joint security force command structure
provided a much needed capability to achieve unity if effort, in terms of
both planning and executing the campaign. It is noteworhy to repeat the
fact that although the Commander-in-Chief gained operational control over
the police he did not subordinate them to the military commanders in the
field, but continued the cooperative triumvirate rationship at the working
levels, and employed the police in roles appropriate to their training,
expertise and mission.
1 Fred Majdalany, State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963), p.62.
2 Raymond E. Glazier,"Kenya: The Termination of Mau Mau" in Case
Studies in the Termination of Internal Revolutionary Conflict, comp. Advance
Research Projects Agency, XII (Cambridge, Mass.: ABT Associates Inc., 1957),
p. 69. Hereafter cited as TIRC.
3 Majdalany, pp. 66-68.
4 Jeremy Murray-Brown, Kenyatta (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.,
1973), p. 278.
5 Majdalany, pp. 69, 79.
6 A. Marshall MacPhee, Kenya (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.,
1968), p. 107.
7 Glazier, TIRC, p. 53.
8 Majdalany, p. 93; Glazier, TIRC, p.53.
9 Majdalany, pp. 97-99.
10 MacPhee, pp. 112-113.
11 Glazier, TIRC, p. 69.
12 Majalany,p. 87.
13 MacPhee, pp. 111-114.
14 Majdalany, pp. 87-88.
15 Majdalany, p.88
16 Julian Paget, Counter-Insurgency Operations: Techniques of
Guerilla Warfare (New York: Walker and Company, 1967), p.88.
17 Fact on File: World News Digest with Index, 1952, P. 321.
Hereafter cited as FOF.
18 Majdalany, p. 104.
19 FOF, p.338.
20 Majdalany, pp. 104-105.
21 Majdalany, pp. 36-97.
22 James E. Crow, "Insurgency: A Case for the Kenya Police," Disc.
U.S. Army War College 1971, p. 163.
23 USACDCIAS Study Team et al., "Preconflict Case Study 5: Kenya," in
Army Roles, Missions and Doctrine in Low Intensity Conflict, comp. U.S. Army
Combat Developments Command (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: Carlisle Research
Office, 1970), p.4. Hereafter cited as ARMLIC.
24 Louis Seymour Bazet Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, 1st Amer. ed.
(1952; rpt. New York: The John Day Company, 1952), p.57.
25 Leakey, p. 57.
26 Macdonald, ARMLIC, p.43.
27 Macdonald, ARMLIC, p. 44.
28 Majdalany, pp. 8-9.
29 Majdalany, p. 15.
30 Majdalany, p. 8.
31 William W. Baldwin, Mau Mau Man-Hunt (New York: E.P. Dutton &
Company, Inc., 1957), p.54.
32 Baldwin, pp. 54-55.
33 Madonald, ARMLIC, p. 43.
34 Majdalany, p. 12.
35 Majdalany, pp. 9-13.
36 ARMLIC, p. 26.
37 ARMLIC, p. 26.
38 ARMLIC, p. 31.
39 Leakey, p. 65.
40 ARMLIC, p. 31.
41 Majdalany, p. 3
42 Majdalany, pp. 33-34.
43 Majdalany, pp. 34-35.
44 Majdalany, pp. 32-33.
45 Majdalany, pp. 31-32.
46 ARMLIC, p. 28.
47 ARMLIC, p. 34.
48 Majdalany, pp. 35.
49 Leakey, pp. 57-58.
50 Majdalany, p. 35.
51 Leakey, p. 59.
52 Majdalany, p. 36.
53 Lenkey, pp. 58-59.
54 Majdalany, p. 15.
55 ARMLC, p. 37.
56 ARMLIC, p. 19.
57 ARMLIC, pp. 32-33.
58 Majdalany, pp. 18-19.
59 Majdalany, p. 46.
60 Majdalany, p. 46.
61 Majdalany, pp. 46-48.
62 Majdalany, pp. 46-48.
63 Majdalany, p. 19.
64 Miller, 'Political Parties and Interest Groups," ARMLIC, p. 96.
65 ARMLIC, pp.11-12.
66 ARMLIC,p. x.
67 Majdalany, pp. 46-47.
68 Majdalany. pp. 47-48.
69 Leakey, pp. 89-90.
70 Trinnamen, ARMLIC, p. 107.
71 Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey, Defeating Mau Mau, 1st Amer, ed
(1954; rpt. New York: AMS Press, Inc., 1977), pp. 128-131.
72 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, p. 91.
73 Leakey, Defeating Mau Mau, pp. 131-133.
74 Baldwin, pp. 111-112.
75 KLeakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, pp. 91-92.
76 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, pp. 68-69.
77 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, pp. 70-71.
78 Majdalany, pp. 47-48.
79 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, pp. 71-72.
80 Miller, ARMLIC, p. 102.
81 Miller, ARMLIC, p. 103.
82 Miller, ARMLIC, p. 103.
83 Miller, ARMLIC, p. 104.
84 Majdalany, p. 75.
85 Miller, ARMLIC, p. 104.
86 Majdalany, p. 20-23.
87 Majdalany, pp. 20-23.
88 ARML C, p. 38.
89 Majdalany, p. 23.
90 ARMLIC, p. 39.
91 Majdalany, p. 23.
92 Majdalany, p. 23.
93 Majdalany, p. 75.
94 Trinnaman, ARMLIC, p. 120.
95 Leakey, Defeating MAU MAU, p. 34.
96 Miller, ARMLIC, pro. 104-105.
97 Trinnaman, ARMLIC, p. 120.
98 Trinnaman, ARMLIC, pp. 120-121.
99A Trinnaman, ARMLIC,p. 121.
99B Majdalany, pp. 18-19.
100 Glazier, p. 69.
101 Trinnaman, ARMLIC, pp. 121-122.
102 Trinnaman, ARMLIC, pp. 110-111.
103 Trinneman, ARMLIC, P. 112.
104 Trinnerman, ARMLIC, p. 112.
105 Trinneman, ARMLIC, p. 113.
106 Trinneman, ARMLIC, p. 113-114.
107 Trinneman, ARMLIC, p. 114.
108 Glazier, p.69.
109 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, p. 95.
110 Glazier, p. 7.
111 Majdalany, p. 47; Trinneman, ARMLIC, pp. 129-130, p.310.
112 Majdalany, p. 59.
113 Majdalany, p. 62.
114 Majdalany, p. 62.
115 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, pp. 96-97.
116 Glazier, p. 7.
117 Majdalany, pp. 76-77.
118 Majdalany, pp. 70-71.
119 MacPhee, pp. 110-111.
120 MacPhee, pp. 111-112.
121 Leakey, Defeating Mau Mau, p. 41.
122 Baldwin, pp. 113-114.
123 Majdalany, pp. 72-73.
124 Majdalany, pp. 73-75.
125 Majdalany, 77-78.
126 Roberts. ARMLIC, p. 163.
127 Majdalany, p. 80.
128 Majdalany, p. 81.
129 Majdalany, p. 81.
130 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, p. 103.
131 Leakey, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu, p.95.
132 MacPhee, p. 102; Glazier, p. 69.
133 Trinneman, ARMLIC, p. 133.
134 Majdalany, pp. 65-68.
135 Trinneman, ARMLIC, p.122.
136 Majdalany, p. 69.
137 Majdalany, pp. 83-85.
138 Majdalany, p. 85.
139 Glazier, p. 69.
140 MacPhee, p. 107.
141 MacPhee, p. 108.
142 Majdalany, p. 86.
143MacPhee, p. 113.
144 Majdalany, pp. 88-89.
145 MacPhee, pp.113-114.
146 MacPhee, pp. 113-114.
147 Majdalany, pp 88-89.
148 Glazier, p. 70.
149 MacPhee, pp. 114-115; Majdalany, p. 89-91.
150 Majdalany, p . 89-90.
151 MacPhee, p. 16.
152 MacPhee, p. 116.
153 Majdalany, pp. 93-93.
154 Majdalany, pp. 94-95.
155 Leakey, Mau Mau the Kikuyu, pp. 45-46.
156 Majdalany, pp. 94-95; MacPhee, p. 117.
157 Paget, p. 88.
158 Majdalany, p. 104.
159 Majdalany, p. 176.
160 Majdalany, p. 176.
161 Crow, p. 129.
162 Majdalany, p. 106.
164 Majdalany, p. 111.
165 Mears, ARMLIC, pp. 300-302.
167 Majdalany, p. 111.
168 Crow, p. 44.
169 Mears, ARMLIC, p. 303.
170 Crow, pp. 50-52.
171 Frank Kitson, Gangs and Counter-gangs (London: Barrie and
Rockliff, 1960), p. 12.
172 Crow, pp. 73-75.
173 Crow, pp. 75-77; Majdalany, p. 98; Paget, p. 91.
174 MacPhee, p. 129.
175 Paget, p. 89; Majdalany p. 135.
176 Majdalany, p. 135.
177 Paget, p. 91; Majdalany, p. 134.
178 Majdalany, pp. 129-130.
179 Majdalany, pp. 131-133.
180 Paget, pp. 92-93.
181 Glazier, p. 71.
182 MacPhee, p. 129.
183 Majdalany, pp. 132-133.
184 MacPhee, p. 129.
185 Majdalany, pp. 117-118.
186 Majdalany, pp. 118-119.
187 Majdalany, pp. 120-121.
188 Majdalany, pp. 123-124.
189 MacPhee, pp. 131-132; Majdalany, pp. 137-147.
190 MacPhee, p. 131; Majdalany, pp. 137-142; Paget, p. 93.
191 Glazzer, p. 72.
192 FOF, 1953, p. 134.
193 MacPhee, p. 132.
194 MacPhee, p. 132.
195 Majdalany, p. 152; Paget, pp. 93-94.
196 Paget, pp. 94-95.
197 Paget, pp. 94-95; Majdalany, pp. 156-157.
198 Majdalany, p. 157.
199 Majdalany, pp. 182-184.
200 MacPhee, pp. 135-139.
201 MacPhee, pp. 139-140.
202 Majdalany, pp. 193-201; Glazier, pp. 14-18.
203 Majdalany, pp. 190-192.
204 Paget, p. 98.
205 Baldwin, pp. 39-40.
206 Paget, p. 98.
207 Majdalany, pp. 204-205.
208 Paget, pp. 99-100.
209 Majdalany, pp. 212-213.
210 Paget, p. 101; Majdalany, p. 213.
211 MacPhee, p. 143.
212 Paget, p. 103.
213 Majdalany, p.220.
214 Paget, p.104.
BALDWIN, William W. Mau Mau Manhunt. New Y ork: E. P. Dutton
& Company, Inc., 1957. Personal account written by the
only known American to have participated in the fight against
Mau Mau. Baldwin joined the Kenya Police Reserve in 1954,
and served with a General Service Unit in Kangema (14
Platoon) for 15 months. Provides interesting insights of
the deployed policemen's views of the conflict.
BARNETT, Donald L. and NJAMA, Karari. Mau Mau from Within. New
York: Monthly Review Press, 1966. Autobiography of Njama
and analysis by Barnett presenting the peasants' perspective
of the revolt by a man who took part in it as a voluntary
oath taker but reluctant terrorist. Especially good insights
of the causal factors of revolt, frustrations, lack of
coordinated effort and communications flow, but intense
belief in a cause, which may not have been the same cause s
shared by others.
CROW, James E. Insurgency: A Case for the Kenya Police. Carlisle
Barracks, Pa.: U. S. Army War College, 1971. Provides a
detailed analysis of the Kenya Police and their participa-
tion in the emergency. Especially useful section describing
the various departments of the force.
FARSON, Negley. Last Chance in Africa. New York: Harcourt,
Brace and Company, 1950. Provides interesting reading about
problems of the people of Kenya prior to the emergency.
Based on four months of personal interviews with a wide var-
iety of people from all levels--from unknown peasants to Jomo
GLAZIER, Raymond E. Jr. Kenya: The Termination of Mau Mau.
Case Studies in the Termination of Internal Revolutionary
Conflict, vol. 12. Cambridge, Mass: ABT Association Inc.,
1967. Proffers the theis that British military forces
in Kenya did not actually deploy against Mau Mau, but
provided strategic quick reaction force for Mid-East
contingencies. Provides good chronology of events and
interesting analyses of British defense priorities and
KALLAN, Irving. Area Handbook for Kenya. 2nd ed. American
University Foreign Area Studies "DA PAM 550-56."
Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1976.
Provides excellent orientation regarding basic information
on poltical and economic conditions surrounding the
emergency, as well as basic data of limited use to this study
concerning Kenya following the emergency.
KITSON, Frank. Gangs and Counter-gangs. London: Barrie and
Rockliff, 1960. Provides a personal account of one of the
founders of the pseudo-gang concept. Depicts in detail
the difficulties experienced in entering the emergency
blind and trying to piece together an intelligence system
from scratch. Excellent reference to special operations
employed. Wish this could have been acquired earlier in
the research process before focusing on pre-emergency.
LEAKEY, Louis Seymour Bazett. Defeating Mau Mau. New York:
AMS Press, Inc., 1977. Second ofhis books on subject of
Mau Mau from an insider's vantagepoint. Provides interesting
suggestions addressed to the colonial government and security
forces as to how to cope with the phenomenon of Mau Mau as he
Mau Mau and the Kikuyu. new York: The John Day Company,
1952. Leakey is the son of missionaries, who lived among
the Kikuyu throughout his youth. He provides excellent
cultural background of Kikuyu and provides sharp insight on
how Mau Mau emerged as a result of the European impact upon
the African culture.
MAJDALANY, Fred, State of Emergency: The Full Story of Mau Mau.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963. Perhaps the best
available overview of the major events which took place
during the emergency, but the author spends excessive time
building a case against Jomo Kenyatta as the genius behind
a Master Plan which eventually succeeded; i.e. Kenya inde-
pendence with Kenyatta in control.
MACPHEE, A. Marshall. Kenya. New York: Frederick A. Praeger,
Inc., 1968. Straig to forward historical account of Kenya's
evolution from the bush to independent nation. Good compan-
ion reference to Majdalany's work, but without the same level
of colorful detail.
MURRAY-BROWN, Jeremy. Kenyatta. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company,
Inc., 1973. Provides detailed biography of Kenyatta. Because
Kenyatsa spent the emergency period in prison, this source
has limited information concerning the emergency events, but
provides an interesting perspective of the man.
PAGET, Julian. Counter-Insurgency Operations: Techniques of
Guerrilla Warfare. New York: Walker and Company, 1967.
Paget Presents a brief but excellent account of the emergency
in military terms. Following the establishment of his thesis
of counter-insurgency in three phases, he demonstrates that
thesis by application to the Malaya. Kenya and Cyprus events.
ROSS, W. McGreggor. Kenya from Within: A Short Political History.
London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1968. Having worded in Kenya
as a Civil Engineer from 1900 (including the Uganda Railway
Construction) until 1923, Ross provides interesting observa-
tions on the early settlement days. Not a major contributing
USACDCIAS Study Team, et al. "Preconflict Case Study 5: Kenya."
Army Roles, Missions and Doctrine in Low Intensity Conflict
(ARMLIC). Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: Carlisle Research Office,
1970. Provides outstanding detailed analysis of background
data, including political, economic, sociological and
military factors contributing to the emergency. Used this
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