In 1952, an uprising against colonial rule in Kenya started and it lasted for eight years. Kenya at the time was planned to be an independent country and no doubt this uprising hastened Kenya’s independence. The Kikuyu tribal people had many grievances and were the main rebel opposition they went under the name of Mau Mau. During this uprising over 1,800 African civilians were killed, 200 British police and army soldiers were also killed. The number of Mau Mau during those eight years was put at 20,000. Although the revolt was directed against British colonial forces and the white settler community, much of the violence took place between rebel and loyalist Africans.
The uprising, which involved mainly Kikuyu people, who were the largest ethnic group in the colony, began to take shape when more radical Kikuyu militants were invited in to the nationalist KAU (Kenya African Union). Called Muhimu, these activists replaced a more moderate, constitutional agenda with a militant one. The Muhimu began widespread Kikuyu oathing, often through intimidation and threats. Traditional oathing ceremonies were believed to bind people to the cause, with the consequence of death resulting if one broke these oaths. The British responded with de-oathing ceremonies. Additionally, the Muhimu attacked loyalists and white settlers.
The war against the Mau Mau officially began in October 1952 when an emergency was declared and British troops were sent to Kenya. The British response to the uprising entailed massive round-ups of suspected Mau Mau and supporters, with large numbers of convicted rebels hanged and up to 150,000 Kikuyu held in detention camps. Large numbers of the Mau Mau rebels based themselves in the forests areas of Mount Kenya and Aberdares. There were also rebel militants in all the major cities of Kenya such as Nairobi and Mombasa.
One story that tells the full horror of this war is the Lari massacre of March 1953. Lari was an area populated by Kikuyu who had refused to take the Mau Mau oath and so were then regarded as traitors. The Mau Mau descended upon this peaceful community with vengeance. Many were slashed to death, some were burned alive in their huts; many were maimed for life. Pregnant women were disemboweled, children were murdered. The massacre claimed 120 lives. The bitter memories of the event still divide the Lari area at this present day. It is one of many reasons why post-independence Kenya refused to recognise Mau Mau claims on ancestral lands and banned it as an organisation. This Massacre at Lari was a turning point in the uprising, where many Kikuyu were forced to choose sides in this resistance struggle.
Sadly the most famous victims of the Mau Mau were the white settler Ruck family; they lived in the Rift Valley just north of Nairobi. In January 1953, Mau Mau fighters stormed their remote farm house, and hacked to death Roger and Esmee Ruck and their six-year-old son, Michael. The images of bloodied teddy bears and broken toy trains were strewn across Michael’s bedroom floor. All this inflamed British opinion, but the murder of a white settler family was actually very rare during the uprising: The Mau Mau preferred to kill Africans and indeed they did.
The Mau Mau had a big problem when the British Army were called in and by 1957 through their expertise and endeavor broke and beat the Mau Mau terrorist forest armies. In 1960 the emergency was declared over. Over the next few years following the rebellion the British Government introduced and implemented reforms. In the year 1963 Kenya received its independence from Great Britain. The first president of Kenya was Jomo Kenyatta
Now fifty three years later the British Government has announced that Kenyans abused by British colonial forces during the Mau Mau uprising of the 1950s will receive compensation totaling £20 million and furthermore regrets any injustices. What a load of wets this government is becoming. Obviously people suffer during uprisings and no doubt innocent people get caught up in the turmoil, but it is always the British who are made the villains. The British army sorted the problem out and brought about peace to Kenya which in turn made it a strong country as it is today. One has to remember, the British Army are well trained and they don’t mess about with people who commit atrocities. None of the Mau Mau leaders have been prosecuted for the horrific torture and murders it inflicted on their own fellow Kenyans, but nobody looks at that.
I nearly missed this out what I have wrote about the Mau Mau troubles . The President of the U.S.A. Barak Obama’s grandad Onyanga was arrested and interned for two years during the uprising in Kenya. Although it was never stated if he was a member of the Mau Mau, but nevertheless he was interned. It is puzzling that this compensation is being paid out during Baraka Obama’s Presidency.
If the British Government wants to start giving out compensation, it should be to the thousands of National Servicemen who were part of the British armed forces that quelled these uprisings and in turn brought about independence and peace to so many countries throughout the world.