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Encyclopedia > Mau Mau Uprising
Mau Mau Uprising
Date 1952 - 1960
Location Kenya
Result British military victory and eventual Kenyan democracy.
Mau Mau British Empire
* "Field Marshal" Dedan Kimathi
* "General China" (Waruhiu Itote)
* Stanley Mathenge
* Evelyn Baring(Governor)
* General Sir George Erskine
Unknown 10,000 regular troops (Africans and Europeans) 21,000 police, 25,000 home guard[1]
10,527 killed in action;[2]

2,633 captured in action; Year 1952 (MCMLII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Kenya. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom. ... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ... Dedan Kimathi Waciuri (October 31, 1920 – February 18, 1957) was a Kenyan rebel leader who fought against British colonization in Kenya in the 1950s. ... Waruhiu Itote (General China) (b. ... Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale (1903-1973), was governor of the then British colony of Kenya from 1952 to 1959. ...

26,625 arrested;

2,714 surrendered;

70,000 - 100,000 interned. [3]

Security forces killed: Africans 534, Asians 3, Europeans 63;

Security forces wounded: Africans 465, Asians 12, Europeans 102;

Civilians killed: Africans 1826 recorded (but most unrecorded), Asians 26, Europeans 32;

Civilians wounded: Africans 918, Asians 36, Europeans 26.


Map of Kenya

The Mau Mau Uprising was an insurgency by Kenyan rebels against the British colonial administration that lasted from 1952 to 1960. The core of the resistance was formed by members of the Kikuyu tribe, along with smaller numbers of Embu and Meru. The uprising failed militarily, though it may have hastened Kenyan independence. It created a rift between the white settler community in Kenya and the Home Office in London that set the stage for Kenyan independence in 1963. It is sometimes called the Mau Mau Rebellion or the Mau Mau Revolt, or, in official documents, the Kenya Emergency. From http://www. ... From http://www. ... The US government and media was using the term insurgent as early as 1899 to describe rebels during the Philippine-American War, here Filipinos described as insurgents at the time lie in a trench after being executed by US forces. ... In general, the word colonial means of or relating to a colony. In United States history, the term Colonial is used to refer to the period before US independence. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... http://www. ... There is another municipality that begins with Embu, see Embu-Guaçu and there is an Embu in Kenya, see Embu, Kenya Embu, also das Artes, is a Brazilian city of the State of São Paulo, it is a suburb of the capital. ... The Ameru tribe inhabits the Meru region of Kenya. ... The modern concept of Small Office and Home Office or SoHo , or Small or Home Office deals with the category of business which can be from 1 to 10 workers. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ...

The name Mau Mau for the rebel movement was not coined by the movement itself- they called themselves Muingi ("The Movement"), Muigwithania ("The Understanding"), Muma wa Uiguano ("The Oath of Unity") or simply "The KCA", after the Kikuyu Central Association that created the impetus for the insurgency. Veterans of the independance movement referred to themselves as the "Land and Freedom Army" in English.



Please note that this section does not cite any sources for its claims. Independent research is recommended.

The meaning of the term Mau Mau is much debated. Proffered etymologies include:

  • it is the name of a range of hills (occurring in various geographical names e.g. the Mau Escarpment, the Mau stream in Eastern Province, a place called Mau in the Rift Valley Province, etc.)
  • it was a nonsense word created by British settlers to demean the rebels
  • it is a backronym for "Mzungu Aende Ulaya — Mwafrika Apate Uhuru". This Swahili language phrase translates in English to, "Let the white man go back abroad so the African can get his freedom."
  • it is a mistransliteration of "Uma Uma" which translates in English to "Get out Get out"
  • is in reference to a 'magic potion' the Kikuyu would drink, making their warriors invulnerable.
  • in reference to the secrecy of the communication between group members: "Maundu Mau Mau" in Kikuyu translates to "those things, those same things" [we have talked about].
  • Perhaps the most creative attempt so far is reported in John Lonsdale's 1990. He quotes a Thomas Colchester, who argued that since ka is a diminutive prefix in Swahili (as it is in Kikuyu and several other Bantu languages), while ma is an augmentative prefix, Mau, therefore, indicates something greater than KAU. KAU was the leading forum at the time for African political participation, but would have been seen as somewhat staid and conservative by the young radicals who would form Mau Mau. Lonsdale recommends this etymology on the ground that it requires no single originator.

Mau Mau means 'hidden ones. A backronym (or bacronym) is a phrase that is constructed after the fact from a previously existing abbreviation, the abbreviation being an initialism or an acronym. ... This article is about the language. ...

Origins of the Mau Mau uprising

The Uprising occurred as a result of long simmering political, economic and racial tensions coupled with the apparent lack of peaceful political solutions. For other uses, see Race (disambiguation). ...

Economic deprivation of the Kikuyu

For several decades prior to the eruption of conflict, the occupation of land by European settlers was an increasingly bitter point of contention. Most of the land appropriated was in the central highlands of Kenya, which had a cool climate compared to the rest of the country and was inhabited primarily by the Kikuyu tribe. By 1948, 1.25 million Kikuyu were restricted to 2000 square miles (5,200 km²), while 30,000 settlers occupied 12,000 square miles (31,000 km²). The most desirable agricultural land was almost entirely in the hands of settlers. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

During the course of the colonial period, European colonizers allowed about 120,000 Kikuyu to farm a patch of land on European farms in exchange for their labour. They were, in effect, tenant farmers who had no actual rights to the land they worked, but had previously called home. Between 1936 and 1946, settlers steadily demanded more days of labour, while further restricting Kikuyu access to the land. It has been estimated that the real income of Kikuyu squatters fell by 30% to 40% during this period and fell even more sharply during the late 1940s. This effort by settlers, which was essentially an attempt to turn the tenant farmers into agricultural labourers, exacerbated the Kikuyus' bitter hatred of the white settlers. The Kikuyu later formed the core of the highland uprising. A tenant farmer is one who resides on and farms land owned by a landlord. ...

As a result of the poor situation in the highlands, thousands of Kikuyu migrated into cities in search of work, contributing to the doubling of Nairobi's population between 1938 and 1952. At the same time, there was a small, but growing, class of Kikuyu landowners who consolidated Kikuyu lands and forged strong ties with the colonial administration, leading to an economic rift within the Kikuyu. By 1953, almost half of all Kikuyus had no land claims at all. The results were worsening poverty, starvation, unemployment and overpopulation. The economic bifurcation of the Kikuyu set the stage for what was essentially a civil war within the Kikuyu during the Mau Mau Revolt.

KCA begins to organize the central highlands

While historical details remain elusive, sometime in the late 1940s the General Council of the banned Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) began to make preparations for a campaign of civil disobedience involving all of the Kikuyu in order to protest the land issue. The members of this initiative were bound together through oath rituals that were traditional among the Kikuyu and neighbouring tribes. Those taking such oaths often believed that breaking them would result in death by supernatural forces. The original KCA oaths limited themselves to civil disobedience, but later rituals obliged the oath taker to fight and defend themselves from Europeans. For other uses, see Civil disobedience (disambiguation). ...

These oath rituals, which often included animal sacrifice or the ingestion of blood, would certainly have seemed bizarre to the settlers. However, the oaths became the focus of much speculation and gossip by settlers. There were rumors about cannibalism, ritual zoophilia with goats, sexual orgies, ritual places decorated with intestines and goat eyes, and that oaths included promises to kill, dismember and burn settlers. While many of these stories were obviously exaggerated for effect, they helped convince the British government to send assistance to the settlers. “Cannibal” redirects here. ... This article is about zoophilia, the emotional and (optionally) sexual attraction of humans to animals. ... Species See Species and subspecies The goat is a mammal in the genus Capra, which consists of nine species: the Ibex, the West Caucasian Tur, the East Caucasian Tur, the Markhor, and the Wild Goat. ...

East African Trades Union Congress and the "Forty Group"

While the KCA continued its oath rituals and creation of secret committees throughout the so-called White Highlands, the centre of the resistance moved towards the still-forming trade union movement in Nairobi. On 1 May 1949, six trade unions formed the East African Trades Union Congress (EATUC). In early 1950 the EATUC ran a campaign to boycott the celebrations over the granting of a Royal Charter to Nairobi, because of the undemocratic white-controlled council that ran the city. The campaign proved a great embarrassment to the colonial government. It also led to violent clashes between African radicals and loyalists. Nairobi (pronounced ) is the capital and largest city of Kenya. ... is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... For the ship of the same name, see Royal Charter (ship). ...

Following a demand for Kenyan independence on 1 May 1950, the leadership of the EATUC was arrested. On 16 May, the remaining EATUC officers called for a general strike that paralyzed Nairobi for nine days and was broken only after 300 workers had been arrested and the British authorities made a show of overwhelming military force. The strike spread to other cities and may have involved 100,000 workers; Mombasa was paralyzed for two days. Nevertheless, the strike ultimately failed and the EATUC soon collapsed after its senior leadership was imprisoned. is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... May 16 is the 136th day of the year (137th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya, lying on the Indian Ocean. ...

Following this setback, the remaining union leaders focused their efforts on the KCA oath campaign to set the basis for further action. They joined with the "Forty Group", which was a roughly cohesive group mostly composed of African ex-servicemen conscripted in 1940 that included a broad spectrum of Nairobi from petty crooks to trade unionists. In contrast to the oaths used in the highlands, the oaths given by the Forty Group clearly foresaw a revolutionary movement dedicated to the violent overthrow of colonial rule. Sympathizers collected funds and even acquired ammunition and guns by various means. The Forty Group was a side society or organization constituted primarily by Kenya African Union men in their 40s who joined with the aim of starting violence to make their voice heard. ... Nairobi (pronounced ) is the capital and largest city of Kenya. ... For other uses, see Revolution (disambiguation). ... Boxes of ammunition clog a warehouse in Baghdad Ammunition is a generic military term meaning (the assembly of) a projectile and its propellant. ... It has been suggested that Last Call Poker be merged into this article or section. ...

The closing of political options and the Central Committee

In May 1951, the British Colonial Secretary, James Griffiths, visited Kenya, where the Kenya African Union (KAU) presented him with a list of demands ranging from the removal of discriminatory legislation to the inclusion of 12 elected black representatives on the Legislative Council that governed the colony's affairs. It appears that the settlers were not willing to give in completely, but expected Westminster to force some concessions. Instead, Griffith ignored the KAU's demands and proposed a Legislative Council in which the 30,000 white settlers received 14 representatives, the 100,000 Asians (mostly from South Asia) got six, the 24,000 Arabs one, and the five million Africans five representatives to be nominated by the government. This proposal removed the last African hopes that a fair and peaceful solution to their grievances was possible. The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet official in charge of managing the various British colonies. ... James Jim Griffiths (1890-1975) was a Welsh Labour politician, the prime mover in the establishment of the Welsh Office. ... Kenya African Union was a political organization that was meant to voice Kenyan voice to Britain, the colonial government of the time. ... Westminster is a district within the City of Westminster in London. ... Map of South Asia (see note on Kashmir). ... Languages Arabic and other minority languages Religions Islam, Christianity, Druzism and Judaism Arab woman from Ramallah wearing traditional dress in 1915. ...

In June 1951, the urban radicals captured control of the formerly loyalist Nairobi KAU by packing KAU meetings with trade union members. They then created a secret Central Committee to organize the oath campaign throughout Nairobi. The Central Committee quickly formed armed squads to enforce its policies, protect members from the police, and kill informers and collaborators.

In November 1951 the Nairobi radicals attempted to take control of the national KAU at a countrywide conference, but were outmanoeuvred by Jomo Kenyatta, who secured the election for himself. Nevertheless, pressure from the radicals forced the KAU to adopt a pro-independence position for the first time. Jomo Kenyatta (October 20, 1889 – August 22, 1978) served as the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of Kenya. ...

The Central Committee also began to extend its oath campaign outside of Nairobi. Their stance of active resistance won them many adherents in committees throughout the White Highlands and the Kikuyu reserves. As a result, the KCA's influence steadily fell until by the start of the actual Uprising it had authority only in Kiambu District. Central Committee activists grew bolder — often killing opponents in broad daylight. The houses of Europeans were set on fire and their livestock hamstrung. These warning signs were ignored by the Governor, Sir Philip Mitchell, who was only months away from retirement, and Mau Mau activities were not checked. The White Highlands is an area in the central uplands of Kenya, so-called because, during the period of British Colonialism, white immigrants settled there in considerable numbers particularly to take advantage of the good soils and growing conditions. ... Kiambu District is an administrative district in the Central Province of Kenya. ... Sir Philip Euen Mitchell (1890 – 1964) was a British Colonial administrator who server as Governor of Uganda (1935 – 1940) and Governor of Fiji and High Com­missioner for the Western Pacific (1942 – 1945), and Governor of Kenya (1944 – 1952). ...

The first reaction against the uprising

In June 1952, Henry Potter replaced Mitchell as Acting Governor. A month later he was informed by the colonial police that a Mau Mau plan for rebellion was in the works. Collective fines and punishments were levied on particularly unstable areas, oath givers were arrested and loyalist Kikuyu were encouraged to denounce the resistance. Several times in mid-1952 Jomo Kenyatta, who would go on to become independent Kenya's first President, gave in to the pressure and gave speeches attacking the Mau Mau. This prompted the creation of at least two plots within the Nairobi Central Committee to assassinate Kenyatta as a British collaborator before he was saved through his eventual arrest by the colonial authorities, who believed that Kenyatta was the head of the resistance. Henry Codman Potter (May 25, 1835 - July 21, 1908), United States Protestant Episcopal bishop, the son of Bishop Alonzo Potter, was born in Schenectady, New York. ... Jomo Kenyatta (October 20, 1889 – August 22, 1978) served as the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of Kenya. ...

On 17 August 1952, the Colonial Office in London received its first indication of the seriousness of the rebellion in a report from Acting Governor Potter. On 6 October, Sir Evelyn Baring arrived in Kenya to take over the post of Governor. Quickly realizing that he had a serious problem, on 20 October 1952 Governor Baring declared a State of Emergency. is the 229th day of the year (230th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1952 (MCMLII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 279th day of the year (280th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale (1903-1973), was governor of the then British colony of Kenya from 1952 to 1959. ... is the 293rd day of the year (294th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1952 (MCMLII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend certain normal functions of government, may work to alert citizens to alter their normal behaviors, or may order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. ...

State of Emergency

On the same day as the Emergency was declared, troops and police arrested nearly 100 leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta, in an operation named Jock Scott. Up to 8,000 people were arrested during the first 25 days of the operation. It was thought that Operation Jock Scott would decapitate the rebel leadership and that the Emergency would be lifted in several weeks. The amount of violence increased, however; two weeks after the declaration of the Emergency the first European was killed. Jomo Kenyatta (October 20, 1889 – August 22, 1978) served as the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of Kenya. ...

While much of the senior leadership of the Nairobi Central Committee was arrested, the organization was already too well entrenched to be uprooted by the mass arrests. Local rebel committees took uncoordinated decisions to strike back over the next few weeks and there was an abrupt rise in the destruction of European property and attacks on African loyalists. Also, a section of settlers had treated the declaration of Emergency as a license to perpetrate excesses against suspected Mau Mau.

British military presence

One battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers was flown from the Middle East to Nairobi the first day of Operation Jock Scott. The 2nd Battalion of the King's African Rifles, already in Kenya, was reinforced with one battalion from Uganda and two companies from Tanganyika, part of current day Tanzania. The Royal Air Force sent pilots and Handley Page Hastings aircraft. The cruiser Kenya came to Mombasa harbor carrying Royal Marines. During the course of the conflict, other British units such as the Black Watch served for a short time. The British fielded 55,000 troops in total over the course of the conflict, although the total number did not exceed more than 10,000 at any one time. The majority of the security effort was borne by the Kenya Police and the Tribal Police / Home Guard. Symbol of the Austrian 14th Armoured Battalion in NATO military graphic symbols This article is about the military unit. ... The Lancashire Fusiliers was a British infantry regiment that was amalgamated with other Fusilier regiments in 1968 to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. ... A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ... The Kings African Rifles (KAR) was a British colonial regiment in East Africa from 1902 until the independence of the various colonies in the 1960s. ... Flag of Tanganyika Tanganyika was an East African republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, named after Lake Tanganyika, which formed its western border. ... “RAF” redirects here. ... The Handley Page HP 67 Hastings was a troop-carrier and freight transport of the Royal Air Force. ... Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya, lying on the Indian Ocean. ... The Royal Marines (RM), are the Royal Navys elite fighting forces. ... For other uses, see Black Watch (disambiguation). ...

Initially, British forces had little reliable intelligence on the strength and structure of the Mau Mau resistance. Senior British officers thought that the Mau Mau Uprising was a sideshow compared to the Malayan Emergency. Over the course of the conflict, some soldiers either could not or would not differentiate between Mau Mau and non-combatants, and reportedly shot innocent Kenyans. Many soldiers were reported to have collected severed rebel hands for an unofficial five-shilling bounty, although this was done to identify the dead by their fingerprints. It is also alleged that some kept a scoreboard of their killings, but this practice was forbidden by the General Officer Commanding. Allegations of excesses by the Army and Police led General Hinde, officer in charge of all security forces, to issue stern warnings against any misbehaviour. The Malayan Emergency was an insurrection and guerrilla war of the Malay Races Liberation Army against the British and Malayan administration from 1948-1960 in what is now Malaysia. ... A macro shot of a palm and the base of several fingers; as seen here, debris can gather between the ridges. ...

The Council of Freedom declares war

By January 1953, the Nairobi Central Committee had reconstituted its senior ranks and renamed itself the Council of Freedom. In a meeting it was decided to launch a war of liberation. In contrast to other liberation movements of the time, the urban Kenyan revolt was dominated by the blue-collar class and mostly lacked a socialist element. The network of secret committees was to be reorganized into the Passive Wing, and tasked with supplying weapons, ammunition, food, money, intelligence and recruits to the Active Wing, also known as the Land and Freedom Armies or, less accurately, the Land Army. Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subjfuck grapesect to control by the community[1] for the purposes of increasing social and economic equality and cooperation. ...

The Land and Freedom Armies, named after the two issues that the Kikuyu felt were most important, were mostly equipped with spears, simis (short swords), kibokos (rhino hide whips) and pangas (a type of machete). The panga, a common agricultural tool, was most widely used. Some rebels also tried to make their own guns, to add to the 460 precision made firearms they already possessed, but many of the homemade guns exploded when fired. This does not cite its references or sources. ...

This declaration may be seen as a strategic mistake that the Council of Freedom was pushed into by its more aggressive members. The resistance did not have a national strategy for victory, had no cadres trained in guerrilla warfare, had few modern weapons and no arrangements to get more, and had not spread beyond the tribes of the central highlands most affected by the settler presence. Image File history File links File links The following pages link to this file: Mount Kenya Gallery of mountains ... Image File history File links File links The following pages link to this file: Mount Kenya Gallery of mountains ... Mount Kenya has a low profile typical of a shield volcano. ...

Nevertheless, the lack of large numbers of initial British troops, a high degree of popular support, and the low quality of colonial intelligence gave the Land and Freedom Armies the upper hand for the first half of 1953.

Large bands were able to move around their bases in the highland forests of the Aberdare mountain range and Mount Kenya killing Africans loyal to the government and attacking isolated police and Home Guard posts. The Aberdare Range (formerly, the Sattima Range, Kikuyu: Nyandarua) is a 160 km long range of uplands in west central Kenya, north of the capital Nairobi, that forms a section of the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley as it runs roughly north-south through East Africa. ... Mount Kenya has a low profile typical of a shield volcano. ...

Over 1800 loyalist Kikuyu ( Christians, landowners, government loyalists and other Mau Mau opponents) were killed. The Mau Mau, operating from the safety of the forests, attacked mostly by night. They attacked isolated farms, but occasionally also households in suburbs of Nairobi. Only the lack of firearms prevented the rebels from inflicting severe casualties on the police and settler community, which may have altered the eventual outcome of the Uprising.

The Land and Freedom Armies had lookouts and stashes for clothes, weapons and even an armoury. Still they were short of equipment. They used pit traps to defend their hideouts in Mount Kenya forests. The rebels organized themselves with a cell structure but many armed bands also used British military ranks and organizational structures. They also had their own judges that could hand out fines and other penalties, including death. Associating with non-Mau Mau was punishable by a fine or worse. An average Mau Mau band was about 100 strong. The different leaders of the Land and Freedom Armies rarely coordinated actions, reflecting the lack of cohesion to the entire rebellion. Three of the dominant Active Wing leaders were Stanley Mathenge; Waruhiu Itote (known as General China), leader of Mount Kenya Mau Mau; and Dedan Kimathi, leader of Mau Mau of Aberdare forest. Waruhiu Itote (General China) (b. ... Dedan Kimathi Waciuri (October 31, 1920 – February 18, 1957) was a Kenyan rebel leader who fought against British colonization in Kenya in the 1950s. ...

Response of the settlers and government

On 24 January 1953 Mau Mau, possibly former servants, killed settlers Mr. and Mrs. Ruck, as well as their six-year-old son, on their farm with pangas. White settlers reacted strongly to the insecurity. Many of them dismissed all of their Kikuyu servants because of the fear that they could be Mau Mau sympathizers. Settlers, including women, armed themselves with any weapon they could find, and in some cases built full-scale forts on their farms. Many white settlers also joined auxiliary units like the Kenya Police Reserve (which included an active air wing), and the Kenya Regiment, a territorial army regiment. is the 24th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Kenya Police Reserve (KPR) was formed in 1948 to assist the regular Kenya Police in the mainainance of law and order. ... The Kenya Regiment was formed in 1936 and served until 1945 in Madagascar and Burma when it was disbanded. ...

British colonial officials were also suspicious of the Kikuyu and took measures. They initially thought the Kikuyu Central Association was the political wing of the resistance. They made carrying an illegal gun and associating with Mau Mau capital offences. In May 1953, the Kikuyu Home Guard became an official part of the security forces. It became the significant part of the anti-Mau Mau effort. Most Home Guard were members of the Kikuyu tribe ( the Home Guard was subsequently re-named the Kikuyu Guard) especially those converted to Christianity. They organized their own intelligence network and made punitive sweeps into areas that were suspected of harbouring or supporting Mau Mau. The Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) was a political organisation in Kenya which acted on behalf of the Kĩkũyũ community by presenting their problems to the British government; Kenya was a colony of Britain at the time. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is...

On 25 March26 March 1953 nearly 1,000 rebels attacked the loyalist village of Lari, where about one hundred and seventy non-combatants were hacked or burnt to death. Most of them were the wives and children of Kikuyu Home Guards serving elsewhere. This raid was widely reported in the British media, contributing greatly to the notion of the Mau Mau as bloodthirsty savages. In the weeks that followed, some suspected rebels were summarily executed by police and loyalist Home Guards, and many other Mau Mau implicated in the Lari massacre were subsequently brought to trial and hanged. is the 84th day of the year (85th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... March 26 is the 85th day of the year (86th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

The urban resistance spreads

In April 1953, a Kamba Central Committee was formed. The Kamba rebels were all railwaymen and effectively controlled the railway workforce, and the Kamba were also the core of African units in the Army and Police. Despite this, only three acts of sabotage were recorded against the railway lines during the emergency. There is also Kemba in Gabon, see Kemba, Gabon Mukamba, pre 1923 The Kamba (Mukamba in singular, Akamba in the plural) are a Bantu ethnic group who live in the semi-arid Eastern Province of Kenya stretching east from Nairobi to Tsavo and north up to Embu, Kenya. ...

At the same time rebel Maasai bands became active in Narok district before being crushed by soldiers and police who were tasked with preventing a further spread of the rebellion. Language(s) Maa (ɔl Maa) Religion(s) Monotheism Christianity Related ethnic groups Samburu The Maasai are an indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. ... Location of Narok in Kenya Narok is west of Nairobi, along the Great Rift Valley (click map to enlarge) Narok is an old town west of Nairobi in south-west Kenya, along the Great Rift Valley. ...

Despite a police roundup in April 1953, the Nairobi committees organized by the Council of Freedom continued to provide badly needed supplies and recruits to the Land and Freedom Armies operating in the central highlands.

Realizing that the blue-collar unions were a hotbed of rebel activity, the colonial government created the Kenya Federation of Registered Trade Unions (KFRTU) for white-collar unions as a moderating influence. By the end of 1953, it had gained a Luo general secretary who was a nationalist, but also opposed the revolt. Early in 1954 the KFRTU undermined a general strike that was called by the Central Committee. Joluo (commonly known as Luo) are an ethnic group in Kenya and Tanzania. ...

The British gain the initiative

In June 1953 General Sir George Erskine arrived and took up the post of Director of Operations, where he revitalized the British effort. A military draft brought in 20,000 troops who were used aggressively. The Kikuyu reserves were designated "Special Areas", where anyone failing to halt when challenged could be shot. This was often used as an excuse for the shooting of suspects, so this provision was subsequently abandoned.

The Aberdares Range and Mount Kenya were declared "Prohibited Areas", within which no person could enter without government clearance. Those found within the Prohibited Area could be shot on sight.

The colonial government created so-called pseudo-gangs composed of de-oathed and turned ex-Mau Mau and allied Africans, sometimes headed by white officers. They infiltrated Mau Mau ranks and made search and destroy missions. Pseudo-gangs also included white settler volunteers who disguised themselves as Africans. The Pseudo-gang concept was a highly successful tactic against the Mau Mau.

In late 1953 security forces swept the Aberdare forest in the Operation Blitz and captured and killed 125 guerrillas. Despite such large-scale offensive operations, the British found themselves unable to stem the tide of insurgency.

It was not until the British realized the extent of the rebel organization, and the importance of the urban rebel committees and unions, that they gained a strategic success. On 24 April 1954, the Army launched "Operation Anvil" in Nairobi and the city was put under military control. Security forces screened 30,000 Africans and arrested 17,000 on suspicion of complicity, including many people that were later revealed to be innocent. The city remained under military control for the rest of the year. About 15,000 Kikuyu were interned and thousands more were deported to the Kikuyu reserves in the highlands west of Mount Kenya. However, the heaviest weight fell on the unions. is the 114th day of the year (115th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

While the sweep was very inefficient, the sheer number was overwhelming. Entire rebel Passive Wing leadership structures, including the Council for Freedom, were swept away to detention camps and the most important source of supplies and recruits for the resistance evaporated.

Having cleared Nairobi, the authorities repeated the exercise in other areas so that by the end of 1954 there were 77,000 Kikuyu in concentration camps (not to be confused with Nazi-style death camps). About 100,000 Kikuyu squatters were deported back to the reserves. In June 1954, a policy of compulsory villagization was started in the reserves to allow more effective control and surveillance of civilians and to better protect pro-government collaborators. When the program reached completion in October 1955, 1,077,500 Kikuyu had been concentrated into 854 "villages". Villagization (sometimes spelled villagisation) is the (usually compulsory) resettlement of people into designated villages by government or military authorities. ...

The British detention and labour camps were appalling. Due in part to the sheer number of Kikuyu detainees and the lack of money budgeted for dealing with them, not even the bare essentials needed for humane internment were present. One British colonial officer described the labour camps thus: "Short rations, overwork, brutality, humiliating and disgusting treatment and flogging - all in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights."[5] Sanitation was non-existent, and epidemics of diseases like cholera swept through the detention camps. Official medical reports detailing the huge shortcomings of the camps and their recommendations were ignored, and the conditions being endured by Kikuyu detainees lied about to the outside world.[6][7]

The beginning of the end

Ian Henderson was one of the colonial police officers credited with capturing Kimathi and suppressing the Uprising. He was deported from Kenya after its independence.
Ian Henderson was one of the colonial police officers credited with capturing Kimathi and suppressing the Uprising. He was deported from Kenya after its independence.

The inability of the rebels to protect their supply sources marked the beginning of the end. The Passive Wing in the cities had disintegrated under the roundups and the rural Passive Wing was in state of siege on the central highlands and reserves. Forced to spend all their energy to survive, and cut off from sources of new recruits, the Land and Freedom Armies withered. Image File history File linksMetadata IanHenderson_1964. ... Image File history File linksMetadata IanHenderson_1964. ... Ian Henderson is a British citizen honoured by HM Queen Elizabeth II with the CBE 1986, George Medal 1954 (and Bar 1955), Queen Elizabeth Coronation Medal 1953, Mentioned in Despatches 1955 and Kenya Police Medal for Distinguished Services 1952. ...

In 1953 some 15,000 Mau Mau guerrillas were at large. In January 1954 the King's African Rifles began Operation Hammer. They combed the forests of Aberdare mountains but met very little resistance; most guerrillas had already left. Eventually the operation was moved to the Mount Kenya area. There they captured substantial numbers of guerrillas and killed 24 of 51 band leaders. The Mau Mau were forced deeper into forest. By September 1956, only about 500 rebels remained. The Kings African Rifles (KAR) was a British colonial regiment in East Africa from 1902 until the independence of the various colonies in the 1960s. ...

In 1955, an amnesty was declared. It both absolved Home Guard members from prosecution and gave rebel soldiers a chance to surrender. Peace talks with the rebels collapsed on May 20, 1955 and the Army began its final offensive against the Aberdare region. Pseudo-gangs were used heavily in the operation. By this time Mau Mau were low on supplies and practically out of ammunition. is the 140th day of the year (141st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays the 1955 Gregorian calendar). ...

The last Mau Mau leader, Dedan Kimathi, was captured by Kikuyu Tribal Police on 21 October 1956 in Nyeri with 13 remaining guerrillas, and was subsequently hanged in early 1957. His capture marked the effective end of the Uprising, though some Mau Mau remained in the forests until 1963 and the Emergency remained in effect until January 1960. Dedan Kimathi Waciuri (October 31, 1920 – February 18, 1957) was a Kenyan rebel leader who fought against British colonization in Kenya in the 1950s. ... is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Nyeri is a town and a district in Kenya about 120km north of the capital Nairobi. ...

In 1959 the British forces bombed a big hide-out called the Mau-Mau Cave near Nanyuki. About 200 people lost their lives in the cave during the bombardement. Nanyuki is a market town in central Kenya, lying north west of Mount Kenya. ...

Political and social concessions by the British

Despite the fact that the British military had won a clear victory, Kenyans had been granted nearly all of the demands made by the KAU in 1951 as the carrot to the military's stick. In June 1956, a program of villagization and land reform consolidated the land holdings of the Kikuyu, thereby increasing the number of Kikuyu allied with the colonial government. This was coupled with a relaxation of the ban on Africans growing coffee, a primary cash crop, leading to a drastic rise in the income of small farmers over the next ten years. For the several U.S. counties named Coffee, see Coffee County. ...

In the cities the colonial authorities decided to dispel tensions after Operation Anvil by raising urban wages, thereby strengthening the hand of moderate union organizations like the KFRTU. By 1956, the British had granted direct election of African members of the Legislative Assembly, followed shortly thereafter by an increase in the number of African seats to fourteen. A Parliamentary conference in January 1960 indicated that the British would accept "one person — one vote" majority rule.

These political measures were taken to end the instability of the Uprising by appeasing Africans both in the cities and country and encouraging the creation of a stable African middle class, but also required the abandonment of settler interests. This was possible because while the settlers dominated the colony politically, they owned less than 20% of the assets invested in Kenya. The remainder belonged to various corporations who were willing to deal with an African majority government as long as the security situation stabilized. The choice that the authorities in London faced was between an unstable colony, which was costing a fortune in military expenses, run by settlers who contributed little to the economic growth of the Empire, or a stable colony run by Africans that contributed to the coffers of the Empire. The latter option was the one, in effect, taken. This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ...


The official number of Kenyans killed was estimated at 11,503 by British sources, but David Anderson places the actual number at higher than 20,000, and Caroline Elkins claims it is probably at least as high as 70,000, perhaps much higher. However, Elkins' methodology for arriving at her conclusions has been subject to considerable criticism.[8] [9] Elkin's critics contend that her figures are derived from an idiosyncratic reading of census figures and a tendentious interpretation of the fortified village scheme. Caroline Elkins (born 1969) is an associate professor of History at Harvard University. ...

More recently, the demographer John Blacker, in an article in African Affairs, has estimated the total number of African deaths at around 50, 000; half were children under 10.[10]

For security force casualties, see the information box at the top of the article.

Of particular note is the number of executions authorized by the courts. In the first eight months of the Emergency, only 35 rebels were hanged, but by November 1954, 756 had been hanged, 508 for offenses less than murder, such as illegal possession of firearms. By the end of 1954, over 900 rebels and rebel sympathizers had been hanged, and by the end of the Emergency, the total was over 1,000.


British Military, Settler and Loyalist Atrocities

British forces are accused of widespread human rights abuses, including rape, torture and castration. The number of Mau Mau fighters killed by the British and their military adjuncts was about 20,000, though it has been documented that large numbers of Kikuyu not directly involved in the rebellion were persecuted by the British.[11][12] Mau Mau veterans have sued for compensation from the British government,[13] and their lawyers have documented about 6,000 cases of human rights abuses including fatal whippings, rapes and blindings.[14]

Many British settlers took an active role in the torture of Mau Mau suspects, running their own screening teams and assisting British security forces during interrogation. One British settler, describing helping Special Branch of the Kenya Police interrogate a Mau Mau suspect, stated that, "Things got a little out of hand. By the time I cut his balls off he had no ears, and his eyeball, the right one, I think, was hanging out of its socket. Too bad, he died before we got much out of him."[15] A British officer, describing his exasperation about uncooperative Mau Mau suspects during an interrogation, explained that, "I stuck my revolver right in his grinning mouth and I said something, I don’t remember what, and I pulled the trigger. His brains went all over the side of the police station. The other two Mickeys [Mau Mau] were standing there looking blank. I said to them that if they didn’t tell me where to find the rest of the gang I’d kill them too. They didn’t say a word so I shot them both. One wasn’t dead so I shot him in the ear. When the sub-inspector drove up, I told him that the Mickeys tried to escape. He didn’t believe me but all he said was 'bury them and see the wall is cleared up.'"[16]

Home guard troops (black Kenyan loyalists) were also responsible for the retaliation to the Lari massacre. Immediately after the discovery of the first Lari massacre (between 10 pm and dawn that night), Home Guards, police, and 'other elements of the security services' (Anderson's term) engaged in a retaliatory mass murder of residents of Lari suspected of Mau Mau sympathies.[17] These were indiscriminately shot, and later denied either treatment or burial. There is also good evidence that these indiscriminate reprisal shootings continued for several days after the first massacre. (See the reports of 21 and 27 men killed on 3rd and 4 April, respectively.[18]) The official tally of the dead for the first Lari Massacre is 74; that for the second, 150.[19]

Mau Mau Atrocities

While the overwhelming majority of the deaths suffered by the Kikuyu are attributable to British forces and policies, some Mau Mau militants did commit serious human rights violations. More than 1,800 Kenyan civilians are known to have been murdered by Mau Mau, and hundreds more disappeared, their bodies never found.[20] Victims were often hacked to death with machetes.

In addition to Kenyan civilians, 32 British civilians were killed by Mau Mau militants. Perhaps the most famous British civilian victim was Michael Ruck, aged just six, who was killed along with his parents. Michael was found hacked to death in his bedroom, and "newspapers in Kenya and abroad published graphic murder details and postmortem photos, including images of young Michael with bloodied teddy bears and trains strewn on his bedroom floor."[21]

At Lari, on the night of March 25-26 1953, Mau Mau forces herded 120 Kikuyu into huts and set fire to them.[22][23]

In popular culture

Look up Mau mau in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
The Oath Film 2005
  • As a result of the events in Kenya, the verb "to mau mau" meaning "to menace through intimidating tactics; to intimidate, harass; to terrorize," entered English usage, especially in a political and/or racial context. For example, in the second episode of Law & Order (Subterranean Homeboy Blues), a detective uses the verb in this way: "If the lady popped you because you were mau-mauing her..."
  • Depicted in the short film The Oath The Oath Film which used an all Kenyan and Kenyan-based actors, some of whom are modern day descendents of the Mau Mau.
  • The 1955 novels Something of Value and Uhuru by Robert Ruark are written from the perspective of Dedan Kimathi and his friend Peter. Something of Value was made into a 1957 movie.
  • A gang in late 1950s New York City known for their violent attacks named themselves the Mau Maus, apparently after the fearsome reputation of the Kenyan rebels. Evangelist Nicky Cruz was a member of the Mau Maus when he renounced his violent ways and converted to Christianity. The 1970 movie, "The Cross and the Switchblade", starring Erik Estrada as Nicky Cruz depicts these events.
  • The Mau Maus were also a fictitious political hip-hop group in the 2000 Spike Lee film Bamboozled.
  • The black radical hip-hop group The Coup reference the Mau Mau Revolt in many of their songs, such as "Kill My Landlord" and "Dig It"
  • The Mau Mau Uprising is referenced by several flashbacks in the Magnum P.I. episode "Black on White".
  • The Mau Mau Uprising is the topic of the Warren Zevon song "Leave My Monkey Alone" on his album Sentimental Hygiene.
  • The Allan Sherman song "Hungarian Goulash" makes reference to the "Jolly Mau-Maus" and how they are "eating missionary pie."

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 150 languages. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The Oath is a fictional short film taking place in 1950s Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising under the British colonialism. ... This article is about the original television series. ... Subterranean Homeboy Blues is the second episode of NBCs legal drama Law & Order. ... The Oath is a fictional short film taking place in 1950s Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising under the British colonialism. ... Something Of Value is a 1957 drama film directed by Richard Brooks. ... Uhuru is the Swahili word for freedom. Uhuru may also refer to: Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa Uhuru Movement, a black power movement. ... Robert Ruark (born December 29, 1915 in Wilmington, North Carolina–died July 1, 1965 in London, England) was an American journalist, traveler, and author. ... Year 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1957 Gregorian calendar). ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... For the band formed by Rick Wilder, please see The Mau-Maus. ... The Cross and the Switchblade is the true story of Reverend David Wilkersons work among New York drug addicts. ... Shelton Jackson Lee (born March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia), better known as Spike Lee, is an Emmy Award - winning, and Academy Award - nominated American film director, producer, writer, and actor noted for his films dealing with controversial social and political issues. ... Bamboozled is a 2000 satirical film written and directed by Spike Lee about a modern televised minstrel show featuring black actors donning blackface makeup and the violent fall-out from the shows success. ... This article is about the color. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... The Coup is a hip-hop group based in Oakland, California. ... Magnum, P.I. was an American television show that followed the adventures of Thomas Magnum (played by Tom Selleck), a private investigator living in Hawaii. ... Warren William Zevon (January 24, 1947 – September 7, 2003) was an American rock and roll musician and songwriter. ... Sentimental Hygiene is an album by rock singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, released in 1987. ... Allan Sherman (sometimes incorrectly Alan and Allen), November 30, 1924 – November 20, 1973, was an American musician, parodist, satirist, and television producer. ...


  • J. 'Bayo Adekson, "The Algerian and Mau Mau Revolts: a Comparative Study in Revolutionary Warfare," Comparative Strategy, vol 2 no 1 (1981): 69-92
  • David Anderson. Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire. ISBN 0-393-05986-3. 
  • Frank Corfield, The Origins and Growth of Mau Mau [aka Corfield Report] (Nairobi: Government of Kenya, 1960)
  • Caroline Elkins. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya. ISBN 0-8050-8001-5. 
  • Wunyabari O. Maloba. Mau-Mau and Kenya: An Analysis of a Peasant Revolt. ISBN 0-253-21166-2. 
  • Zoe Marsh & G.W. Kingsnorth (1972). A History of East Africa. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-08348-6. 
  • John Newsinger, "Revolt and Repression in Kenya: The 'Mau Mau' Rebellion, 1952-1960," Science and Society 45 (1981): 159–185
  • Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1967). A Grain of Wheat. ISBN 0-435-90987-8. 
  • Henderson, Ian; with Philip Goodhart (1958). The Hunt for Kimathi. London: Hamish Hamilton. 
  • John Lonsdale (1990) "Mau Maus of the Mind: Making Mau Mau and Remaking Kenya", The Journal of African History 31 (3): 393-421.

Caroline Elkins (born 1969) is an associate professor of History at Harvard University. ... The headquarters of the Cambridge University Press, in Trumpington Street, Cambridge. ... Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo signs copies of his new book Wizard of the Crow. In London at the Congress Centre in central London. ... Ian Henderson is a British citizen honoured by HM Queen Elizabeth II with the CBE 1986, George Medal 1954 (and Bar 1955), Queen Elizabeth Coronation Medal 1953, Mentioned in Despatches 1955 and Kenya Police Medal for Distinguished Services 1952. ... The Hamish Hamilton logo Hamish Hamilton is a British book publisher, founded eponymously by the half-Scot half-American Jamie Hamilton (Hamish is the Celtic form). ...


  1. ^ Malcom Page "KAR: a history of the King's African Rifles" (London: Leo Cooper, 1998) p206
  2. ^ The Origins and Growth of Mau Mau [aka Corfield Report] (Nairobi: Government of Kenya, 1960) page 316 places the number of Mau Mau killed in action at 11,503
  3. ^ Malcom Page "KAR: a history of the King's African Rifles" (London: Leo Cooper, 1998) p206
  4. ^ Malcom Page "KAR: a history of the King's African Rifles" (London: Leo Cooper, 1998) p206
  5. ^ Mark Curtis, Web of Deceit (Vintage, 2003), p.327
  6. ^ Caroline Elkins, Britain's Gulag (Pimlico, 2005), Chapter 5
  7. ^ Curtis, 2003 Chapter 15
  8. ^ http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18096
  9. ^ http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n11/letters.html#2
  10. ^ John Blacker. 2007. The demography of Mau Mau: fertility and mortality in Kenya in the 1950s: a demographer's viewpoint, African Affairs 106, Number 423: 205-227
  11. ^ http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/05/08/RVG3FCHG2T1.DTL&type=books#3
  12. ^ Anderson, 2005 p.5 Anderson here states that at least 150,000 Kikuyu "spent some time behind the wire of a British detention camp."
  13. ^ http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article1757278.ece#5
  14. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/correspondent/2416049.stm#4
  15. ^ Elkins, 2005 p.87
  16. ^ Anderson, 2005
  17. ^ See Anderson 2005: 130
  18. ^ See Anderson 2005: 133
  19. ^ The figure was given in an East African Standard report of 5 April, 1953. (See Anderson 2005: 132)
  20. ^ Anderson, 2005 p.4
  21. ^ Elkins, 2005 p.42
  22. ^ http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n11/letters.html#2
  23. ^ See also Death at Lari: The Story of an African Massacre, chapter 4 of Anderson 2005

See also

British military history is a long and varied topic, extending from the prehistoric and ancient historic period, through the Roman invasions of Julius Cæsar and Claudius and subsequent Roman occupation; warfare in the Mediaeval period, including the invasions of the Saxons and the Vikings in the Early Middle Ages... General Sir Frank Edward Kitson. ... Ian Henderson is a British citizen honoured by HM Queen Elizabeth II with the CBE 1986, George Medal 1954 (and Bar 1955), Queen Elizabeth Coronation Medal 1953, Mentioned in Despatches 1955 and Kenya Police Medal for Distinguished Services 1952. ... Location of the town of Hola. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Mau Mau Uprising (660 words)
The so-called Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya from 1952 to 1960 -- in the immediate wake of the global war against fascism -- was one of the most vicious colonial wars Britain ever fought.
The Mau Mau Uprising was an insurgency by Kenyan rebels against the British colonial administration that lasted from 1952 to 1960.
During the course of the Mau Mau disturbances various leaflets were disseminated; the most important being yellow "safe conduct passes" in January of 1955 incorporating the very controversial pardon for past crimes.
Mau-Mau Uprising PSYOPS (6735 words)
Like most wars, Mau Mau was as much about propaganda as it was about reality…Equally powerful as the photographs distributed by the Colonial Office was the language used to describe the Mau Mau…the "white" and "enlightened" forces of British colonialism were in stark contradistinction to the "dark," "evil," "foul," "secretive," and "degraded" Mau Mau.
Mau Mau followers were forbidden to invite non-members to drink beer, or to attend their dances; they were not to help them in building huts or in any other tasks where it was normal for a man to call on his neighbors to give communal aid.
Worse for the Mau Mau leaders, as the members left the organization and did not suffer a painful and agonizing death, it became clear that the oath had no magical power and was just a myth.
  More results at FactBites »



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