Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire

Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 039332754X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"A remarkable account of Britain's last stand in Kenya. This is imperial history at its very best."--John Hope Franklin

In "a gripping narrative that is all but impossible to put down" (Joseph C. Miller), Histories of the Hanged exposes the long-hidden colonial crimes of the British in Kenya. This groundbreaking work tells how the brutal war between the colonial government and the insurrectionist Mau Mau between 1952 and 1960 dominated the final bloody decade of imperialism in East Africa. Using extraordinary new evidence, David Anderson puts the colonial government on trial with eyewitness testimony from over 800 court cases and previously unseen archives. His research exonerates the Kikuyu rebels; hardly the terrorists they were thought to be; and reveals the British to be brutal aggressors in a "dirty war" that involved leaders at the highest ranks of the British government. This astonishing piece of scholarship portrays a teetering colonial empire in its final phase; employing whatever military and propaganda methods it could to preserve an order that could no longer hold. 18 photographs, 2 maps

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numbers they dominated the other tribes and were in a position to gradually extend their baneful influence into every facet of Nairobi life.’30 By then, Mau Mau had long been a powerful force in all the estates and shanties of Eastlands. The radicals who organized Mau Mau oathing in Nairobi from 1950 had taken their message to the mass of unskilled and illiterate Kikuyu. They appealed to ethnic solidarity, but also to the embryonic class-consciousness of the unemployed, the disadvantaged and the

veranda running the length of each building and connecting to communal kitchens directly opposite. These facilities were basic and squalid, but there were tables and benches where meals could be taken in relative comfort. Latrines were located at the ends of the blocks. This was rudimentary, strictly functional housing, typical of the kind thought appropriate in Kenya for single, young male migrant workers. But the community occupying the railway lhandies by 1954 also included many women, the

Kikuyu adult males were imprisoned or detained by the British colonial administration at some time between 1952 and 1958. The Kenya administration had long been fond of incarceration as a form of punishment. Back in 1938 the daily average prison population in neighbouring Tanganyika had been only 54 per 100,000, and in Uganda 114 per 100,000, while in Kenya the figure was 145 per 100,000.48 Measured in these terms, Kenya then imprisoned a larger proportion of its population than any other colony

generate confrontation with the prisoners. The prisons and camps therefore became sites of struggle. Resistance was apparent in all the camps, but especially among the ‘hard-core’ category of prisoners and detainees, who most often bound together in unified opposition to the authority of the warders. In their memoirs, Mau Mau activists indicate their consciousness of the importance of continuing the struggle ‘behind the wire’. Mau Mau organized their own structures of discipline and control

control of other forces. This led many white settlers to take refuge in the interpretation of Mau Mau as a kind of illness, or even a disease. The mystification of the oath fed such anxieties: Kikuyu who had taken the oath were no longer in their right minds; they had been transformed and brutalized. The firm denial that Africans had any legitimate grievances against the way they had been treated by settlers closed the door to any materialist or social explanation. This all helped white settlers

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