The Unrevealed History of The Liberation Struggle

read along…

An untold history of the Liberation war in Kenya is that it was wide and far-reaching. There were indeed countless Mau Mau generals and soldiers all across Kenya. The commonly held myth is that the war was only fought by members of the Kikuyu Land Unit (Agikuyu, Ameru, Aembu). This was not the case. It is true that they formed the majority of the troops and effects of the war were most dire in their unit. This does not, however, mean that the Maasai, Kamba, Turkana, and Kalenjin among others were not part and parcel of the struggle. In fact, there were many high ranking generals from Narok including the famous Ole Kisio. The same goes for the Kamba unit where support came in many different forms.

It was indeed a British divide and rule tactic to portray the war as a Kikuyu tribal war against Africans. This was supposed to pit other tribes against the Kikuyu. That, however, did not happen. The British had not only committed atrocities in Central Kenya but also in the Rift Valley, Coast, Northern Kenya and the rest of the country. Nobody thus was open to siding with them willingly.

Even the British African servants in the police force and at settler homes betrayed them on countless occasions. The Mau Mau infiltrated every part of the colonial society through administering oaths of loyalty. When the actual war commenced, the Mau Mau successfully overran dozens of British military outposts within a short time. Their spies in British homes supplied information and performed terror acts if they were ordered to do so. Within no time, desperation hit the British and they sacked all their Kikuyu servants as they could not trust them anymore. They also armed every British civilian with handguns and other weapons.

At the height of the war, the British considered every member of the Kikuyu Land Unit to be Mau Mau. The British also proceeded and shifted their battleground from the forests, where they were losing, to the innocent civilians in the general public. All Kikuyu/Meru/Embu were banned from the city of Nairobi. Young children, old men and old women became the prime targets of the British. Virtually the entire Kikuyu civilians were put into concentration camps where they were savagely tortured, starved, hanged, and brutally murdered. This was done primarily to demotivate the Mau Mau soldiers in the forests.

Part of what is not told about the Mau Mau is that they were not just some ‘savage reckless militias’. That is what the British propaganda machinery hoped they would convince the world. But these fighters were experienced military officials who were much better organized than the local colonial police force and British military. These fighters were experienced in warfare, having participated in the WW2 in various parts of the world. They, therefore, trained and organized their troops well and gathered as much intel and ammunition as they could. They also sought and got support from the amicable H.I.M Haile Selassie, his government and ordinary Ethiopians. They acquired things like ammunition and secured strategic territory to organize attacks from within Ethiopia.

The disorganized, demotivated and inexperienced British troops and their servants were almost no match for the Mau Mau. The British were completely cornered and their only remaining strength was in their propaganda machinery which reached the entire globe. It is was not surprising that the desperate British colonial force sought to capitalize on the newly found lease of life when they captured the gallant Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi. They promptly broadcast to the world that the war was over and that they had won. This is despite the fact that virtually the entire Mau Mau forces in Mt. Kenya East led by Field Marshall Musa Mwariama among other generals were still engaging the British in the war. In fact, the war was merely gathering pace as the units from Kambaland, Maasailand, Meru, Embu and the rest of the country were as active as never before.

As usual, the British hoped that they would get information from Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi. That did not happen. They ended up hanging him - immortalizing the name of the relentless soldier. The death of this soldier was indeed a loss to the British and they knew they had grossly miscalculated. For the next 8 years, the war would persist albeit in the backstage of the media as the British had already seen that their propaganda machines were working against their favour. By broadcasting the images of the gallant Mau Mau soldiers, the British simply fueled rebellion in the rest of the colonies in Africa and beyond. The Mau Mau became a beacon of light to the entire oppressed black world. Civil rights leaders like Malcolm X extensively augmented their campaign on the backdrop of the Kenyan struggle. Oppressed people in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean adopted the Mau Mau war attire, complete with dreadlocks, as an official symbol of resistance to oppression. Independence movements across Africa also became more vocal and increasingly impatient. The British thus only managed to collapse the empire by propagating propaganda about the Mau Mau. The period of the Mau Mau struggle between 1956-1963 was crucial for Kenyan liberation although largely not broadcast to the world.

By 1960, the Mau Mau had proven that they were irreproachable in their quest for independence. The British had only managed to kill countless innocent civilians, to the tune of over 20,000 men, women and children (Some source cite well over 50,000 people). This shameful achievement was a fact which they would go to equally shameful lengths to conceal from the public in the following decades.

As for the Mau Mau, it took the personal persuasion of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta that the war over in order to come out of the forest and lay down their arms. In 1963, Field Marshall Musa Mwariama was the key commander whose forces were still intact and active. He famously called out his troops from the forests once he was personally given the flag of the nation by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. The new president would then proceed to inspect the last guard of honor of the Mau Mau soldiers at Ruringu stadium to pave the way for the composition of a new national military.

There were a few Mau Mau generals including General Baimungi, who were not satisfied with post-colonial agreements. They were unfortunately assassinated when they tried to wage a war with the newly independent government.

Modern Propaganda About the Kenyan Struggle

In modern times, it is common to still find some information sources and public opinion laced with colonial propaganda, particularly in the UK. Some still pander the old colonial lies that the Mau Mau were a tribal terrorist organization that needed to be crushed. This is despite the British government having accepted its crimes against innocent Kenyan civilians. Of course, it is fathomable that the Mau Mau were terrorists in the eyes of the imperialists.

Some quarters also claim that the British, in fact, saved Kenyans from the Mau Mau. Again, this is quite typical of the unidirectional 20th-century British propaganda that unfortunately has no credibility in the information age. The fact is, the British nearly wiped out innocent non-militant communities. By 1960, Jomo Kenyatta was the universally accepted leader who not only fiercely challenged the British rule but was also the de facto leader of the nation. There was, therefore, no chance of post-independence civil unrest as long as Kenyatta was freed and allowed to rule the nation.

The facts - the documented facts - remain that throughout the 20th century, the British brutally crushed and nearly wiped out voiceless and defenseless groups like the Turkana. They also committed horrific acts on many Kalenjin peoples. The Mau Mau were thus just another group that the British intended to crush but failed miserably. They never expected to engage such a tactfully superior group that was also wildly influential and commanded loyalty across the nation. The Mau Mau were the first group in Africa perform large-scale attacks on actual Briton forces. They proved that white colonizers were not infallible and this was a major validation for them in the eyes of the oppressed.

The Liberation Legacy

It was not until in 2002 when Kenyans were truly allowed to embrace and appreciate their liberation legacy. Before then, the governments of Kenyatta and Moi took extremely repressive measures of dealing with the slightest dissent. The change in policy was clearly visible when the post-colonial government dealt with outright brutality former Mau Mau generals who failed to tow the line. Moi also banned the movement and dealt ruthlessly with the opposition. In the 2002 regime change, the new government peeled back all the repressive policies and officially gave Mau Mau the honour they deserved. Since then, public perception of the heroic movement has only gotten better.

We cannot escape the fact that the British government swindled its citizenry by selling them illegally acquired land in Africa. The compensation that the British government was thus forced to pay to its willing white settlers as they were vacating Kenya was justified. Most ordinary Kenyans whose land was illegally taken by the British also had to pay the government of the day to reacquire it. In a new independent dispensation that was resolutely capitalist, there was barely any room for socialist reorganization of societies. The capitalist legacy is one that has come to define Kenya even in modern times.

Hujaweka ile part old man Jomo swindled his kin & made them the largest 'diasporans" here in Kenya. No wonder they’re always the most affected during tribal clashes.

I did not want to make it too long nor too much about post-colonial governments.