Kenya History

TranslatorTribù Samburu

Kenya History

Cartina del Kenya

Kenya Map

Kenya, whose official name is Jamhuri ya Kenya (Republic of Kenya), is a country in East Africa, bordered on the north by Sudan and Ethiopia, to the east by Somalia and the Indian Ocean, on the south by Tanzania, on the west by Lake Victoria and Uganda. The first human traces on the soil of Kenya belong to nomadic tribes from Ethiopia about two thousand years before Christ. Ancestry of other tribes came from every part of Africa between 500 BC and 500 AD. Following Kenya was populated by a number of tribal groups who, despite having different origins, shared the same area: Kikuyu, Gusii, Meru, Kamba, Samburu, Turkana, Luo, Maasai. In fact, the Bantu-speaking populations (such as the Gusii, Kikuyu, the Kamba and Meru) arrived from West Africa, while speaking nilota (Maasai, Luo, Samburu and Turkana) from the valley of the Nile in southern Sudan.

After the eleventh century, traders and settlers from the Arabian Peninsula and Persia Shirazis founded numerous city-states along the coast called “Coast of Zenj” (the blacks), including Malindi and Mombasa. Over time there developed a mixed culture exemplified by Bantu-Arab hybrid language of Swahili, yet still the official language of the country. Independent of each other, the city-state soon fell under the rule of non-African empires. One of these was the Sultanate of Oman, for centuries in competition with the Europeans for supremacy on the coasts. Until the nineteenth century, however, no foreign people seized inland allowing the population to escape the Arab slavers who concentrated more in the South.

Attracted by the smell of spices and money, the Portuguese, after the discovery of the explorer and the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama Street circumafricana to the Indies (1498), became interested in the area around the fifteenth century and remained there until 1631. So between 1505 and 1507 much of the coast was occupied by the Portuguese, while the highlands of the interior were reached in the seventeenth century by populations of sedentary farmers such as the Kikuyu and Kamba. Later, in the eighteenth century, in the Rift Valley and the highlands of the Aberdare settled the warlike Masai.

The Portuguese imposed for a long time a hard colonial regime, placing a sultan against each other. But the Lusitanian control in the region was always precariously balanced, as the coast was for a long period of contention for commercial reasons among the Arab peoples and the Portuguese themselves. The Arabs were able to take total control over the coastal regions in 1720.

With the invasion of the whole of Africa by Europeans, even the mysterious inner regions of Kenya were conquered. The company formed by the various tribes were organized into clans, and though the warrior was a dominant figure, never had large armies. No one was able to put up a stubborn resistance to the European conquerors.

Mappa del Kenya

Kenya Map

British zone of influence at the end of the nineteenth century, the coastal region of Kenya became a protectorate in 1895, with Nairobi as administrative and political center, while the interior had the status of possession. Only in 1920, the protectorate and possession (which has now become the colony) took the name of Kenya. Initially, the interest of the British against Kenya was limited to the need to build a railway between Mombasa and Kampala, that would allow to efficiently exploit the rich resources of Uganda. These ambitions convinced the British to negotiate a treaty with the Camarilla (the spiritual leader, the commander) Masai, because accordasse them the right to build this railroad, destined to pass on the grazing lands of the tribe. The central point of the railway is located in on which now stands the city of Nairobi. In 1896 the British began the actual construction of the Uganda Railway, which ended December 19, 1901. Across the railroad covered 935 km.

At the beginning of the new century British colonialism gave way to the systematic exploitation of the land, to the detriment of the people who had ever lived. European colonization in the early years of the twentieth century turned out, at least at the beginning, but over time a real disaster, and thanks to the economic-productive strategies did the British enhance their colony.

As in other British colonies, the role played by white settlers is crucial to the exasperation of racism and repression of dissent. One of the first moves of colonial authority is to disrupt any community bond, forcing local leaders who, in exchange for fidelity to the British, acquire lands and fields to be processed and extensive rights on the local population (including the right to manage the recruitment for the construction of all the infrastructure of the country). Clearly, these items are now considered illegal and figures, because of their very authoritarian way of governing, are soon also hated by the local population.

From the outset the European settlers need not only of fertile land, but especially abundant and low-cost labor to till their land. For this reason, effective immediately detects the establishment of the class of squatters, namely local laborers. These are allowed to reside in the European Championship properties and use a portion of land to cultivate or reared with their pets, in exchange they provide labor services.

Initially, these measures are to ensure the smooth running of the settlers their agricultural property, but later began to be envisaged the danger of the growth of a community of squatters who could actually threaten the British colonial rule. Fearing, in fact, that the squatters could claim the rights of tenants, the white settlers gained new legislation limiting the already small number of animals that they can breed, gradually increasing also the working days on the farm.

The bullies in working conditions to which the Kenyan population is reduced and the pressing demands of fertile land by white settlers, along with the racial segregation that excluded Africans from practically every right to property, forced the Kenyan ethnic groups within reserves shrinking, turning the central region of the country in real White Highlands.

In 1902, in fact, the “Land Acquisition Order” allowed the white settlers from Britain, Canada and Australia to buy the most fertile land in the country. Not only that, thanks to the complicity of Lord Delamere had achieved political supremacy in the Legislative Council created after Kenya had ceased to be a protectorate and was placed under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office.

At the end of World War 1% of the Kenyan population was made up of white Europeans who owned 25% of arable land, especially land located in the fertile highlands of the country. In the Legislative Council the Kenyan tribe just had four representatives, against the nine which belonged to the Europeans. The situation became dramatic for the indigenous Kenyan, it was widely exploited and production for export was obviously monopolized by Europeans.

While Europeans valorized their large plantations in the country, the natives lived by cultivating an average of just four or five hectares per family (with some reservations the average down to a half acre). Many plots of land were also removed from the Kikuyu, a Bantu tribe devoted to agriculture coming from the highlands to the west of Mount Kenya.

Monte Kenya

Mount Kenya

The Kikuyu is the largest ethnic group in the country. It is said that its founder, the legendary Gikuyu, was brought by the divine spirit Ngai on the summit of Mount Kirinyaga (the Kikuyu language means “Mountain of whiteness”) – english Mount Kenya.

To Gikuyu  the divine spirit Ngai gave the bride a beautiful woman name of Mumbi, their nine daughters would give rise to the major ethnic groups in Kenya.

Kikuyu tribal organization is based on the family (Yumba), but the woman is submissive to her husband. Many families make up a farm, divided into subgroups and clans, with a Council of Elders (Kiama), the only appropriate body to resolve all internal disputes, and a secret council called Njama. Circumcision is a practice performed on both male and females. Indeed, male circumcision is essential for a young Kikuyu could join the group of adults and therefore have responsibilities within the community, to fight in the event of war, freely choose a wife and member of the Board of Elders, or enter the Njama.

A special ritual marks the birth of a Kikuyu: if the baby is a boy, the mother after childbirth launches five cries of joy, and if it is female cries fell to four. Immediately after birth, the husband collects in four fields (in the case of a female) or five (in the case of a male) sugar cane, whose juice is poured in very small quantities directly into the infant mouth. The various stages of growth are differentiated by a specific dance that varies according to the developmental stages. Each dance is held in different ways: for example, most young adults can dance during the day and only on special occasions, while the little ones can do it on a daily basis but only at sunset.

At the age of sixteen to eighteen years, the boys are ready for the rite of circumcision, while for women clitoridectomy is practiced when not yet had their first menstrual period. The ritual ceremony follows a well-defined and followed by the whole village.

To conclude this short trip around the Kikuyu, remember that there is only one god, the famous Ngai that would live on top of Mount Kirinyaga without attending to the vicissitudes of his creatures. However, the Kikuyu always pray with his face toward the great volcano as a sign of respect.

Harry Thuku

Harry Thuku

The most emblematic event, which marks the beginning of the struggle of the Kenyan people for the achievement of Uhuru, the Swahili word meaning “freedom”is the arrest of Harry Thuku, head of the Association of Young Kikuyu. Already on the day of the arrest,  which took place in March 1922, a spontaneous crowd gathers in front of the police station in Nairobi calling for the release of the young Kikuyu.

The police opened fire, killing twenty-one people, but the Kenyans claim that the dead are more than a hundred. From this event, popular gatherings, to clearly politically motivated against the British colonial authorities, are beginning to be more and more numerous. The protests major concern forced labor to which many Kenyans are subjected and the imposition of the “hut tax”, that most of the natives is not able to pay.

In 1924 he founded the movement “Kikuyu Central Association” (KCA) begins the struggle to reach the Uhuru organized. The KCA, to achieve its goals, it collaborates with the “Kavirondo Tax-payer Welfare Association”, a movement formed by members of the Luo tribe, the second largest ethnic group in Kenya. Together denounce the British colonial policy of division of the tribe, requiring the creation of a Central Council of the natives. These claims are accepted by the British. However, a new project for the confiscation of more land to be used for the settlements was already in port.

The controversy erupted in 1929 concerning female circumcision practiced by the tribes in Kenya, condemned by the Church, was once considered an additional and heavy interference in local traditions. This leads to the formation of new religious movements in contrast with the same Christian church, but especially to the emergence of independent schools, where many young people grow and feed on African nationalism.

In Kenya, meanwhile, are born the various movements that challenge the British presence. The former are spiritual matrix, the most famous is the “Deni ya Roho”, namely  the “cult of the holy ghost”. From this, from 1935, are born other movements including the “Deni ya Musmaba”, or the “cult of the dead”. The spiritual matrix soon becomes political in nature. Here appear many political groups organized in opposition to colonial authority. All ethnic groups are organized: the Kikuyu have the KCA, the Luo the “Kavirondo Central Association”,  the Kamba the “Ukamba Members Association”, and finally, ethnicity Taita the “Taita Jills Association”. In 1940 the British government banning these organizations and, on the pretext of an alleged collaboration of the pictures of the same with the Italian Consulate in Nairobi, arrested twenty-three leaders. The UK initiative is a bad move that allows Kenyans to amplify the struggle for emancipation.

Meanwhile, a new political organization, stronger and better organized previous starts making his first tentative steps as “the Kenya African Study Union”, founded by Eliud Mathu, the first African member of the Legislative Council Colonial Kenya. In 1946, the organization makes the final name of “Kenya African Union” (KAU), with the first President Harry Thuku. The KAU includes people of almost all the ethnic groups of the country, but in essence it is dominated by the Kikuyu. Just a Kikuyu, Jomo Kenyatta, will take the lead of the movement succeeded in writing new pages of history for the Kenyan population, helping to bring to life his revival to Kenya.

Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta is the last name given to a path that comes from a family of shepherds Kikuyu, up to the chair of the President of the Republic of Kenya.

The first name of the future “father of Kenya” is Kamau wa Ngengi. Born in 1890, or maybe three years later in 1893, near Ichaweri, a border area between the world of the indigenous Kenyan tribes and the world of the white settlers. Five or six years ends up in a Christian mission held by Scottish fathers: it is not known exactly whether abandoned by their parents, or because the child is lost during a migration season. In this mission, the small Kikuyu is baptized with the name of the flavor of western Johnstone Kamau. As a boy, is a carpenter in Nairobi, but there are many crafts that young Johnstone does in his life, including the kitchen boy in a house in a western.

The past thirty years begins to practice the policy, enrolling in 1922 KCA – Kikuyu Central Association (Kikuyu Central Association), Harry Thuku movement that defends the right of blacks to the restitution of lands taken by settlers. In 1924 he became secretary of KCA own. Over the years, his political activism increases, much to want to go to London, none other than the parliament or the head of government, to ask in behalf of his people fairer relations between natives and white settlers, and especially the representatives of the Kenyan Parliament UK. In the meantime, he founded and directed a Kikuyu-language newspaper, the Muigwithania, from which launches its nationalistic ideas. Now Johnstone Kamau is now called Jomo Kenyatta: “Jomo” means “flaming spear”, while the “Kenyatta” is a beaded belt that the Kenyan leader always carries with him.

Initially, the political propaganda of Kenyatta not a major concern for the colonial authorities, but only religious ones. In fact, the young Jomo begins to interpret the Christian Bible according to the needs and viewpoints natives: the rites increasingly resemble those pagans, permits polygamy, it enhances the Kenyan nationalism.

In the thirties, thanks to a collection of tribes, Jomo Kenyatta went to study anthropology at Oxford. Here, in 1937, he graduated with a thesis entitled “Facing Mount Kenya”, a study of the ethnography of his ethnic group, the Kikuyu, in which he describes the history and culture according to the categories of anthropology English of the time. During his stay in Europe, Kenyatta met Paul Robenson, sing and composer of American spirituals, Peter Abrahams, a South African fervent anti-colonialist, Messrs. Webb, founders of a movement for the defense of human rights, but especially the great anthropologist of Polish origin Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski. A trip to Moscow, however, it starts the Communist International. In 1946 he returned home determined to political struggle.

Statue of Dedan Kimathi in Nairobi

Statue of Dedan Kimathi in Nairobi

In the meantime, begin large-scale ceremonies of the Mau Mau oath. The Mau Mau movement was born in 1951, at the Kikuyu tribe, as an organization of military hostile to foreign conquerors. This organization, founded on the model of the first Masonic lodges, was a secret society of white resistance to colonialism. Generalissimo of the Mau Mau movement was Dedan Kimathi said “Ciui” (leopard), who was arrested with one of his wives and hanged by the British colonial February 18, 1957.

The movement attracted to religious practices, especially for the constraints to which underwent sacral members, then to the cultural and traditional Kikuyu tribe. However, his action was more political than religious. The group, in fact, founded mainly for the purpose of countering the alienation of indigenous lands implemented by the colonial government in favor of the white planters.

One factor that contributes to design and characterize the physiognomy of the Mau Mau is one regarding the use and dissemination of oaths and its initiation ceremonies. Among the oaths should indicate the Ndemwa Ithatu (Oath of Unity) through which members of the movement, pledging to fight to achieve the intended purposes – namely the expulsion of whites from the territories Kenyans – reaffirm their unity, the oath called the Batuni (Platoon), whose purpose is to prepare the young to the physical resistance in the armed struggle.

The practice of the oath has, as said, a huge organizational potential, since it allows to quantify movement of day-to-day numerical forces of the movement and, at the same time, takes on the value of the vote of solidarity that binds the fighters even in the most terrible adversity .

The initiation into the cult provided a very precise ritual that the ceremonial tying of various ancient cults of Kenya: the initiate had to go through a twisted bow, after spinning was done seven times around his head, the raw meat of goat. The initiation was concluded with the reading of a formula of the oath which ended roughly like this:

I swear to fight for the lands that were taken by force by the white man and if I fail in this, may this oath kill me will kill me for seven times, this meat will kill me.

It is likely that the name derives precisely from the Mau Mau oath. Indeed, the warrior-affiliate to the questions posed during the initiation rite answer muma muma, which in Kikuyu language means “I swear”. Later this formula was extended by inserting an oath to kill indiscriminately, in the name of their land, without question the orders of superiors to accept any punishment if it had been revealed any secret association.

The “Mau Mau rebellion” live well on two types of atrocities: the ruthless guerrilla in the bush of the interior and terrorism in large cities. In practice, the Mau Mau Kenyans terrified European settlers and supporters of the whites with massacres, tribal violence and destruction, causing a harsh response, just as terrorist by the British authorities. The terror in Kenya during this period was as the face of the same coin: whites against blacks and blacks against whites (but also blacks against blacks). The racist message was unmistakable. Undoubtedly, the Mau Mau terror hastened the independence of Kenya, as a result of providing frameworks for self-government.

Mau Mau Gang

Mau Mau Gang

The “crisis of Olenguorone”,  a department that extends around Nakuru in the Rift Valley and Eastern whose ownership of the right of possession is claimed in vain by the Kikuyu, a strong rise in the birth of the Mau Mau movement. In practice, at the end of 1948, the claim of the territory of Olenguorone and the strategy to be adopted to obtain the possession, divides the Kenya African Union: the moderates prefer the political struggle, even if convinced that it would be endless, radical activists are methods for strong and certainly more expeditious.

The killing in Nairobi of a “muzungo” (as they are called white settlers) and the assassination of the head Waruhiu (namely, a local chief, a character Kikuyo faithful supporter and the British colonial administration), marks the real baptism blood Liberation Army of Kenya.

The Mau Mau movement, which from the beginning has about fifteen thousand guerrillas, who took refuge in the dense forests located around Mount Kenya and the Aberdare area (in the Eastern Rift Valley), have another great help in their struggle, provided the so-called “Passive Wing” (Wing passive motion), persons who, though not directly participating in the armed struggle, provide moral support and technical and logistical support to the guerrillas. Kikuyu are the elderly and children, but especially the women of the tribe.

Big and exemplary is the role played by kikuyu women in the fight against the invader white. Their contribution to the liberation struggle is directed to the task of medical, material and logistics to the guerrillas, some of them rather directly contribute to the strength and fighting personally take up arms against the British. Their courage is often overshadowed by the exploits of the Mau Mau guerrilla-men.

They are the ones who dig trenches at night through the walls of barbed wire in the protected villages or create hidden passages to reach and cater to men in the forest; steal weapons from white farms where they work; cover men in their efforts to prevent and deprive themselves of their daily meal to pass it to the men in the bush. Death is also a possibility for them, torture and sexual violence, however, a disease that often are called upon to address.

British police to guard Mau Mau suspects in Kariobangi (Kenya) in 1953.

British police to guard Mau Mau suspects in Kariobangi (Kenya) in 1953.

In Kenya are now many groups protest against the British colonial policy. These movements, however, lacks a charismatic political figure in organizing the protests. And here Jomo Kenyatta, now returned home, organizing opposition movements by strengthening the Kenya African Union – KAU.

With Kenyatta at the helm of the movement, protest increases in intensity not only in Nairobi but also in the Central Province and one of the natives who worked in the White Highlands. A first major strike was organized in the port of Mombasa, violently suppressed by the colonial.

In 1951, during the visit of the Secretary of the Colonies Sir James Griffiths, the KAU ago affected his voice, asking the representative of the Crown some bold claims: the most honorable jobs for Kenyans, prohibition of racial discrimination, aid for education, eight new representatives in addition to the five already existing in the Legislative Council. No request is accepted.

Following this refusal, the Mau Mau terror begins to grow in intensity, not only to the settlers who often saw themselves destroy their property, but also to Africans loyal to the British government. Since the guerrillas are equipped only with bow, arrow and panga – a large knife used normally deadly in the work of the campaign – the first to be affected were the police stations, where the guerrillas take possession of valid weapons for the fight. Other prime targets are initially livestock farms and most isolated of white settlers and the Kenyans themselves loyal to the colonists. In the ranks of the Mau Mau begin to be added, within certain limits, also members of the Kikuyu tribe other than “the Mau Mau rebellion” is entering its most acute phase so as to declare, October 21, 1952, to Sir Evelyn Baring – governor colony – a “state of emergency” with a night curfew. That same night Jomo Kenyatta and other nationalist eighty-two were arrested and taken to the court of the District Commissioner of Nairobi.

Among the charges disputed at Kenyatta is also accused of being one of the top management of the Mau Mau. The future “Father of Kenya” denies his involvement in armed Mau Mau movement, while recognizing the legitimacy of their struggle, and despite a large college of international lawyers, on 8 April 1953 was found guilty and sentenced to seven years imprisonment and hard labor. The same KAU is declared “out-law”. In contrast to the expectations of the British, the arrest of Kenyatta amplifies the rebellion: about three thousand Kenyans embrace the cause of Mau Mau.

Men of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers verifies the identity of Africans during a raid in Nairobi in 1952.

Men of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers verifies the identity of Africans during a raid in Nairobi in 1952.

One of the most infamous episodes in the history of British colonial Kenya it concerns the treatment of prisoners Mau Mau. Torture, illegal detentions also Kikuyu unrelated to the armed movement are also reported later by the British press.

To justify the cruelty British builds a distorted image of Mau Mau fighters: makes sure that they are crazy criminals who indiscriminately kill women and children, who are possessed of, and even cannibals. The majority of British newspapers spreading alarming news about the brutality Kikuyu guerrillas: it says that the white population and the Kenyan loyalists are slaughtered by the brutality of the Mau Mau.

In fact, only thirty-two whites are the direct victims of the armed movement during the eight years of emergency. In short, the image of the fight against the Mau Mau rebels are painted as a struggle of civilization against barbarism more brutal. The desire for power and white racism is endemic, becoming a “preliminary supremacy”. The Mau Mau terror becomes directly proportional to the British violence in Kenya.

Between successive measurements of the colonial government took against the spread of the Mau Mau rebellion, as well as the establishment of concentration camps and villages protected with a lot of barbed wire, please note the recruitment of more than twenty thousand “Home Guard” Kenyan, or a kind National Guard recruited mainly Kikuyu ethnicity. This move brings the country to the brink of civil war, dividing the tribe and creating inside strong contrasts greatly facilitate the task of repression carried out by the British colonial authorities.

The deportation is the first rule to survive in Kenya. The decision to deport the civilian population in Kikuyu protected villages is directly inspired by the policy adopted by the General Templer to crush the guerrilla insurgency in Malaysia during the local occurred since the forties of the twentieth century.

The largest operation of internment occurs April 24, 1954, when the British army, aided by the Home Guard, cleans Nairobi and its suburbs from all Kikuyu. The military operation, named “Anvil” forty thousand men and twenty women and children are torn from their miserable homes and taken by force before in temporary camps, then in various detention camps or in protected reserves. All fields, according to the official statements of the colonial British, have the function declared rehabilitation.

Mau Mau in a camp organized by the British.

Mau Mau in a camp organized by the British.

At the end of 1955 the concentration camps and internment are large, only around Nairobi, twenty, while the largest field reserved for women and girls is a Hamites a few kilometers from the capital. As was the case in Nazi concentration camps and Soviet internment system worked thanks to the active collaboration that the British obtained by some inmates themselves. Inside the camps, the British military and “Africans sold” practice chilling interrogation, torture, inhuman and especially sexual violence.

The interrogations, the so-called “screening”, had the precise function of terrorizing the population, to obtain information on the armed movement of the Mau Mau and, above all, to justify the detention of the suspects later: it is not easy to overcome the “screening” and the majority of respondents ended up confessing guilt or complicity yield even invented.

The women have been subject to inhumane sexual violence. Their function within the camps and villages protected was to bury the dead, take the fingerprints to the rotting corpses, carrying all sorts of things. The torture and sexual violence, even with snakes and broken bottles were the specific form of their dehumanization.

Just as Auschwitz and the like, the survival strategies put in place by the inmates are the most diverse: pursue his own religion, national songs to sing very softly patriotic or religious devise systems of communication between inmates, corrupt guards to exchange food rations and blankets with pens, paper, medicines, newspapers, correspondence.

The deportation to concentration camps and in villages protected allows British colonial authority had the better of the Mau Mau guerrillas, so that by the end of 1955 did not remain free of the mountains a few thousand diehard fighters.

Mau Mau

Mau Mau

After a long time, even in England began to spread the voice of the living conditions of the displaced Kikuyu. The first to publicly denounce the situation are the Labour MPs Fenner Brockway and Barbara Castle. These allegations follow those of Quaker Eileen Fletcher and some missionaries of the place, the captain of the Kenya Police Reserves Philip Meldon. However, despite the complaints of Brockway, Castle, the protests of Fletcher on the living conditions of children and the elderly and sexual torture against women, the revelations of Captain Meldon about life in the concentration camps, it never arrived admission by the UK authorities of the crimes committed in Kenya. Since it seems the government, as usual, it is accepted that these crimes were committed, however, isolated cases and mostly by loyalist Africans, tired of the Mau Mau terror. In any case, according to the official version of Britain, the British officers in Kenya have not had to deal with these crimes.

To date not yet known with precision the exact number of victims that the brutality of the British anti-terror did among the civilian population. In fact, in 1963, immediately before the beginning phase of decolonization in Kenya, almost all the official documents that testified of torture and sexual violence was intentionally destroyed or made to disappear. Even the archives of the Ministry of African Affairs and the Ministry of Prisons were promptly cleaned up by incriminating documents related to the system of detention and treatment of inmates in Africa.

Official data report about twelve thousand guerrillas killed in combat, but in fact the victims were hundreds of thousands, not only among the guerrillas, but also among the civilian prisoners died from the terrible conditions of life in the villages and fields of protected concentration.

Lets go back to the events in the British colony of Kenya.

Jomo Kenyatta after the liberation.

Jomo Kenyatta after the liberation.

On 18 January 1953, the Governor Baring also decreed the death penalty for anyone who accepts the Mau Mau oath. This measure is part of a series of emergency measures, the “Emergency Regulations”, taken from January to April of 1953.

To mitigate the rebellion, the new secretary of the colony, Sir Oliver Lyttelton proposes a document (known as the “Lyttelton Constitution”) in which the different ethnic groups of the country can form a kind of “Council of Ministers” to represent and defend the local population at the ‘colonial authority. This decision does nothing but aggravate the situation because the white settlers divided into two factions, one against and one in favor of the document. In 1955, in June, the colonial authorities to encourage the orderly development of political life in Kenya, gives permission to the formation of political parties in the various districts, with the exception of the Central Province stronghold of the Mau Mau.

This is to put in the same minority Mau Mau movement. The following year a new colonial law assigns eight seats in the Legislative Council to be elected by representatives of the Kenyan African of the eight provinces of the country.

Obtained these little “tricks” you go back to Kenya protest, this time for the release of Jomo Kenyatta. Numerous violent protests occurring in the country with a budget dramatic: hundreds of thousands of Kenyans and Europeans die during accidents. To these are added the victims of the Mau Mau terror.

The government gives and takes away the demonstrators in 1960, the “state of emergency”, releasing August 15 of the year after Jomo Kenyatta. Kenya is now one step away from independence.

Now free, November 6, 1961 Kenyatta led a delegation of Kenya African National Union (KANU), the new name of the KAU, at Lancaster House in London to ask the country independence. After endless negotiations and threats, December 12, 1963 comes the longed-for independence. Kenya becomes the thirty-fourth African country that produces its own independence. On 12 December 1964, Kenya is officially a republic, and Jomo Kenyatta became its first president.

He died August 22, 1978.

Mau Mau. The end ....

Mau Mau. The end ….

The official history of the Mau Mau, however, stops at February 18, 1957, when the last real military leader of the movement, the terrible Dedan Kimathi was hanged by the colonial authorities.

Around the Mau Mau have circulated urban legends and popular myths, drawing the Kikuyu rebel guerrillas now as patriots, now how bloody hysterical. Even the story of the greatest generals Kikuyu, Dedan Kimathi, is shrouded in myth. He was the last to be captured by the British.

From a young age Dedan fought in the ranks of the Mau Mau against the white settlers. He did so with the pride of a typical Kikuyu warrior, to call himself “Commander of the liberal armies of Kenya”. Kimathi is not a crude and violent guerrilla bloodthirsty. He attended government schools, learning to speak perfect English, then it goes by the fathers of the Christian Protestant missions. Just boy embraces the cause of his people and the oath Mau Mau. It is open-minded as a guerrilla, showing no fear of the whites although better armed.

When almost all of the Mau Mau military leaders are arrested by British troops of the “Special Branch” will remain alone in the forest with fifty men and his six wives, hunted like a wild beast with planes and guns. Kimathi meditates striking a blow to save himself and his soldiers: he wants to take hostage Princess Margaret, housed in the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri. There sends his youngest wife, Wangiti, for a visit. The woman was arrested. At the same time the head of “Special Branch”, Jan Handerson, order a massive retaliatory bombing of the forest. The soldiers of Kimathi, one at a time are captured, or killed or frightened desert. The chief remains alone. Handerson, to flush Kimathi, Kenyan enlists hundreds of prisoners who so well know the forest. The chief is reached and wounded by a gunshot. Captured is brought before the colonial authority. To express the end of the “Mau Mau rebellion” organizes the show in the process. Kimathi dies hanged February 18, 1957.

At the end of the “Mau Mau rebellion” more than ten thousand guerrillas were killed, one thousand and sixty-eight natives judged and executed, while three hundred thirty-three Europeans are victims of violence. For the Mau Mau this tragic budget has given the coveted Kenya Uhuru even if the price was very high. For any organization that fights for the liberation of their country it is always worth it!

Mau-Mau to the Court of Justice in London.

The 4 Mau Mau before the Court of Justice in London.

The 4 Mau Mau before the Court of Justice in London.

Mutwiwa Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Muoko Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara since 2009 asked the English High Court the possibility of bringing a lawsuit against the British government. The charge: the torture suffered by them and other Mau Mau rebels in the 50s, at the time of the revolt that gave a hard time to the British in Kenya. A few days ago, an early victory: Submission of the English legal system, the process can be done.

But let step back: the Mau Mau were born between the two world wars as a sect, vicious, violent, and skillful in war. Ready for anything, even death. Mutual solidarity. Since 1953, they turned bows and arrows, but also the guns stolen from the colonists against the British guilty of stealing their fertile lands of Kenya. Then also attacked the African regarded as spies or friends of the whites. The Crown trembled when, in 1957, the movement even kidnapped Margaret, sister of the Queen Mother. In February of that year, their leader was killed and the movement was then channeled into the Kenyan independence movement.

The repression was brutal English. According to the story of the 4 ultra seventies of the Kikuyu ethnic group, in the prison camps operated by the British between 1952 and 1961, would have occurred all kinds of atrocities. Mutua and Nzili told of being castrated, Nyingi of being beaten until losing consciousness in the same condition in which eleven other men had been killed by blows. Mara was a victim of sexual violence. Some estimates speak of 15 thousand Kenyans killed, other 20 thousand. Tens of thousands more tortured.

Now after decades justice English is ready to open a process. Why? Focusing on the issue of Beatrice Nicolini Catholic University of Milan: “On the one hand, there is intellectual stimulus in Britain, with research conducted by professor Anderson of Oxford, who has been looking for the documentation of torture. Then there is the international factor: the origins of Barak Obama from Kenya, the fact that his grandfather had been involved in the repression, which would give the Mau Mau international support “.

And then, an X factor, all of Africa: “there is the desire of a post-colonial revenge-explains the Nag-but a necessity to understand, to recognize where he was evil. See who was out to kill anyone. Cross a pain that lead to reconciliation, which is a path all of Africa “.

In short, at the base of it all is the desire to go back to go forward. Now the ball passes to British courts. But one is for sure: between the former colonial powers, Britain shows, at least, the sense of history. After an apology for the tragic events of Bloody Sunday, Ireland the process against its African colony management. History rewrites even so. By mea culpa.

Giampaolo Musumeci photographer, journalist and Videomaker deals with wars and African issues.

The Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, the lawsuit against London for tortures.

LONDON  –  After nearly half a century, hoping to finally have justice. The High Court in London has given the go-ahead to the lawsuit of four elderly Kenyans against the British Government, accused of torture during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s.

The four Kenyans  –  Mutwiwa Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Nzili Muoka, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara – all between 70 and 80 years of age – recounted that, in a prison camp run by the British between 1952 and 1961 would make all sorts of atrocities.

Mutual and Nzili said they were castrated, States of being manhandled Nyingi until losing consciousness in an episode in which 11 other men were beaten to death while Mara stated that she was the victim of horrific sexual harassment.

The Foreign Ministry, which said it could not be considered legally responsible – had asked the judges to consider the validity of the case and they have decided to give the ok to the cause. Leigh Day, the victims ‘ lawyer, argues that British officials were aware of what was going on and they even sent the army in to participate in torture and collective punishment. David Anderson, a professor at the University of Oxford, said that the British governors had decided to use ” the torture and abuses as normal and systematic practices ” and that only later had changed laws, introducing emergency regulations to cover these practices. The documents relating to these events, said the Professor, ” reveal that the law changes and the addition of emergency regulations were made later to cover practices that in the camps and prison centres were already familiar. ”

In the uprising exploded in 1952 Kikuyi fighters had attacked political opponents and done pillaging of property of the colonists in order to re-capture of stolen lands from British authorities. Britain had declared a State of emergency and given away to a merciless repression, killing up to 20,000 people and rinchiudendone dozens of thousands in labor camps.

Legal liability of what happened had been transferred by the British to the new Government of independent Kenya in 1963 and it is for this reason that the Foreign Ministry refuses to assume the responsibility of torture …

Source: BLITZ

War crimes, the Mau Mau claim justice after 60 years.

NAIROBI  –  Five veterans of the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya have gone to Britain last month to sue the British Government for judgemental imprisonments and torture carried out their damage 60 years ago. In 1950, Britain was trying desperately to preserve its colonial empire and shockingly brutal way suppressed the nationalist rebellion in Kenya. The Kenyan Commission on human rights is pursuing the case. George Morara, of the legal team, said: “After the horrors of the Nazi era, Britain had a central role in the creation of an international legal system to protect human rights. How could a country at the forefront in developing these standards, continue to commit horrendous torture in Kenya? The Government of the time defended himself claiming to be unaware of what was happening. This would not be accepted as an excuse for crimes committed in Iraq or in Guantanamo Bay. There was no justification for the actions that made some of the victims blind and amputarono arts to others. The British soldiers have neutered men and raped women. These are serious violations of human rights and the UK Government must be called to account. “

Gitu wa Kahengeri, head of the Association of the Mau Mau war veterans, he said: “in August 1950 the colonialists did pass a law describing the Mau Mau as a dangerous organization. This law remained in our legal manuals even after independence, until 2003. Today only the Mau Mau may register legally organisations and meet in our country. Our country was occupied by the British for nearly 70 years. They were newcomers. They might remain here as business people but wanted to control our land. In 1948 we have given life to an underground movement by recruiting people from around the country to send via the colonial power “. In October 1952, the British authorities, terrorised by the rebellion that was emerging launched a military crackdown. Persecuted and imprisoned all leaders of African nationalists, conservatives as well as the radicals.

How many secret organizations the Mau Mau forced members to take a loyalty oath. In twisted racist thinking of colonial powers, was the oath that brought Africans, otherwise payable, to rebel. Oliver Lyttleton, Secretary of State of the colonies at the time, had said: “The Mau Mau oath is the most brutal, lurid, nauseating magic minds pervertitrice that it can be textured surfaces”. The detention system would force the Mau Mau supporters to renounce their oath and abandon the rebellion. In practice, any hope of “reintegration” was replaced by forced labor, torture and revenge. Up to 160,000 Kenyans are passed in those fields. Gitu says: “since I was arrested in 1952, I was detained in several concentration camps: Athi River, Lodwar and Terus Manda island. That field was special, for leaders of the Mau Mau movement. I was there with Achieng Oneko and ogi Ram with Pio Gama Pinto “. The lifting of the Mau Mau is often described as a tribal rebellion which only the Kikuyu ethnic group. But the followers of Gitu had also Luo and Asian origins. The Mau Mau war veterans come from different ethnic groups Kenyans.

Also the image, common among the British, a depraved orgy of violence against the peaceful settlers is contradicted by official estimates of the death toll. In 1952 the British declared “emergency situation” which lasted until 1960. At this time white and 32 26 Asian civilians were killed, along with white 63 army members and African 527 “loyal” to the British. Officials have admitted that African rebels were killed 11,503-while the Kenyan Commission for human rights estimated that the real figure is close to 90,000 people. John Nottingham was a colonial civil servant during the “emergency situation” but now is very critical on human rights violations carried out by the British and went to Britain with the Mau Mau veterans. Asked if British forces have committed human rights abuses during the emergency, he replied: “If you launch a phosphorus bomb in a straw hut with a sleeping family inside is not a violation of human rights, I do not know what it is”.

Gitu recalls the hard labor that was forced to make. “We built roads. We have built international airport in poor conditions and without the equipment; Some were beaten to death. They wanted us to die there. The objective was to suppress the movement “. The civil war broke out between the “Loyalists” of heavily armed civil guard and the Mau Mau with their supporters. There was also another element that strengthened the conflict. The Loyalists were the best lands to reservations and were encouraged to accuse local enemies of the Mau Mau affiliation since those who were condemned as rebels, were confiscated lands. (Zachary Ochieng, translation of Ludovica Jona).

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