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Mau Mau Essay, Research Paper

The Discontent of the Kikuyu

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In 1942, Macmillan had recognised that a serious provincial rebellion was inevitable within 10 old ages unless the colonists were ditched or bought out of the White Highlands and replaced by Kikuyu provincials organised in corporate farms Time was running out.

As foreshadowed above the station WWII epoch, if non changed, was taking toward a monolithic Kikuyu rebellion. During the 1930s and 40s, extended land reforms and alterations throughout the settlement plagued the Kikuyu husbandmans. It was estimated in 1944 that all of the Africans in Kenya were crowded into 30 million estates, while 1,890 Europeans had 11 million estates, and merely cultivated half a million. The Kikuyu militias were over populated, over cultivated and over grazed land, and at that place was extended over-crowding and unemployment in Nairobi. There was no suited topographic point for an African indigen to settle and gain a life. Time was running out, as we will see the homesteaders and provincials that occupied the militias and the anomic people of the metropolis would no longer stand for the developments of their labour and land by the colonial powers. It is these actions taken by the reservist, homesteaders and metropolis people and they helped put the foundational beliefs of the Mau Mau.

The Reservist and Squatters

Equally early as the 1930s, the colonial authorities became concerned with the province of the land on the Kikuyu militias. Erosion and over production left the dirt in improbably hapless status. Yet, throughout the continuance of WWII the Kikuyu husbandmans were encouraged to maximise production for the good of economic system of the settlement and for the military personnels. As David Thourp says, & # 8220 ; To abandon colonist agriculture and to trust upon the provincial option. . . had appeared to be excessively large a hazard. Thus the struggle was set. & # 8221 ; Either the provincials or the colonists had to be given the favour of the authorities, and in this case, it was the colonists that won.

The authorities & # 8217 ; s rapprochement with the provincials that occupied the militias was to assign them with about eight to twelve estates per household. With the land area, limitations on cultivation and land use were besides placed ; merely one to two estates could really be cultivated at anytime, there was a bound to the sum of cowss and sheep they could have, and at that place was mandatory labour to assist terrasse the communal modesty land. These authorities limitations did non let the people populating on militias to bring forth sufficiency of a excess to supplement their income nor could the addition from the elevation of farm animal. The compulsory work on terrassing the militias caused jobs because most of the workers ne’er saw any return from their labour.

These factors combined with corruptness of power on the local degree caused great dissatisfaction with the system. On the local degree, authorities appointed heads exploited their power and favored their protagonists. Many heads were merely concerned with bring forthing the most patios for the agribusiness run, and hence looking good in the eyes of the authorities. They did non seek to foster the predicament of their modesty ; they merely looked for ways to derive power.

The homesteaders encountered similar jobs with the governmental limitations. In 1940, the Colonial Office gave the colonists & # 8217 ; District Councils legal power over their communities of homesteaders. At the terminal of the war & # 8211 ; after many colonists had returned to their farms & # 8211 ; the Councils instantly enforced steps that limited the homesteaders to merely one of two estates of cultivation per household and restricted the figure of animate beings in their herds to ten sheep or caprine animals, no cowss. Quickly, as with the militias, incomes dropped. The Labour Department estimated that in the Naivasha District Area that the income per homesteader household for both farm animal and farming fell from 1,400 shillings in 1942 to less than 400 shillings in 1946.

The homesteaders did non hold much of a pick in what to make. They could return to the over crowed militias or travel into Nairobi and be landless. Neither of these two seemed to be a feasible option for most homesteaders. Yet, the authorities forced many to return to the militias. In 1946, after an act of protest when the homesteaders refused to reattest, over 3,000 were forced to go forth the White Highlands. These displaced homesteaders flocked to the militias ; this compounded the jobs already faced at that place.

With multitudes of indigens frustrated and angry with the colonial authorities, feelings of combativeness began to distribute. The African colony of Olenguruone exemplifies this spread in relation to authorities actions. & # 8220 ; Olenguruone provide a rallying point for all disgruntle Kikuyu. . . for all were seeking ways and agencies of covering with colonial subjugation and, finally, colonial rule. & # 8221 ;

Olenguruone was caught in the midst of the official station WWII compulsion with agribusiness betterment and dirt preservation on African militias. They were capable to a set of similar worsening limitations on both cultivation and graze. However, an of import difference was that Olenguruone land was improbably steep and dumbly wooded with bamboo and undergrowth, and the conditions was fickle and could be violent. While eight estates still was non much in the Central Province it seemed to be even less in Olenguruone.

It was at Olenguruone that the thought of taking curses against the authorities, to unity the people together, began to derive impulse. Traditional merely Kikuyu work forces took curses, but this clip work forces, adult females and kids all joined in the act. Peoples sing Olengu

ruone returned to their militias and spread to oath. This curse of solidarity was the ideological cement that brought together different militias in the pursuit for their ain land and freedom.

One of the chief subjects we see emerge from the militias and chunky communities altering politicization. There is a motion off from the more elitist groups such as the Kenya African Union and the Kikuyu Central Association, and a patterned advance towards off shoots of the Forty Group from Nairobi, a much more hawkish group. Therefore became the turnout of the hapless provincial and the anomic Nairobi work, in the more hawkish group.

Discontentment in Nairobi

The Africans suffered different job in Nairobi than their opposite numbers in the state. Here they were plagued by natal disaffection, deficiency of lodging or hapless shelter when it was available and enormous rates of unemployment. These are but a few of the jobs faced in the metropolis, and we will see how these helped in conveying together a united Kikuyu individuality and expanded the ideological nucleus of the Mau Mau.

In 1947 in the authorities estimated that the African countries of the metropolis were lodging 28 per centum more people than they were suppose to incorporate. This figure might non even show the true job because it did non figure in illegal abode and drifters. Since the colonial authoritiess objective was to change over these people into an industrial labour force the authorities tried to do grants with the industries to either raise the rewards of workers or to construct them adequate lodging. However, Kenyan industry was in its babyhood, the authorities did non wish to stultify the industrial companies by coercing the to increase rewards or construct houses, so the job ne’er found a satisfactory solution.

In an attempt of & # 8220 ; de-tribalization & # 8221 ; on portion of the colonial authorities, they tried to take the Kikuyu from their traditional societal and political relationships. Rather than maintaining connexions with heads and other traditional leaders & # 8211 ; as on the militias & # 8211 ; within Nairobi the authorities placed all the control in the European dominated Municipal Courts. They were non concerned with the Africans jobs as a whole, but were & # 8220 ; interested in the locations when African discontent or offense threatened to slop over into the European concern country or suburbs. & # 8221 ;

With a constabulary ratio of one to 1,000 African dwellers, other signifiers of societal domination shortly began to organize. Street packs rapidly took over power in the African localities of the metropolis, and shortly their thoughts spread to the militias and chunky communities. A outstanding pack in Nairobi was the Forty Group. The Forty Group was non merely a condemnable street pack ; instead, they were linked with political organisations within the country and to those on militias. They were an emerging political group that had thoughts that are more aggressive so the traditional associations.

In March of 1950, when the authorities began celebrations to observe Nairobi going a metropolis, Fred Kubai and Bildad Kaggia arranged a monolithic presentation. The presentation took the signifier of a general work stoppage, about 3,000 African dwellers went on work stoppage to first twenty-four hours. By the 6th twenty-four hours 75 and 44 per centum of the Public Works Department and the Municipal Cleansing Department severally had joined the work stoppage. After the work stoppage conditions did non better, over 2,000 people were dismissed from their occupations & # 8211 ; forced to fall in the unemployed in the life of vagrancy and junior-grade offense. But, it did assist in organize a political base for hawkish dissidents and it assist make a synthesis of thoughts non merely among Kikuyu in Nairobi but throughout all of Kenya.

Decision: The rise of Mau Mau political orientation

The start of political perturbation, which resulted in the Mau Mau Rebellion, stemmed from these jobs, in the 1930s and 1940s, with British colonialism. Congestion, labour development and agribusiness limitations set off the recoil within Kikuyu militias and chunky communities. Within Nairobi hapless criterion of life coupled with over crowding and unemployment brought about the general work stoppage and the discontentedness felt at that place. & # 8220 ; [ T ] he rural group formed an confederation with the urban militant who wanted non to be incorporated into the colonial province but to destruct it. & # 8221 ; These powerful feeling merged among the Kikuyu people to assist in the creative activity on the political orientation of the Mau Mau.

We can see the ways in which these past battles were represented in the battle for land and freedom during the Mau Mau. A nyimbo ( anthem ) composed during the rebellion remembers the battle at Olenguruone, and shows how it had an consequence on the corporate mind of the participants.

There was a great bawling at Olenguruone

Even as we collected together properties. . .

We are being oppressed all over this land.

Even our places have been destroyed.

And our organic structures have been exploited.

But do non be afraid.

Because we are heading for a great triumph.

The past feats of the British, served as the stepping rock to the rebellion of the Mau Mau. The jobs faced by the Kikuyu all over the settlement, helped in unifying them in this common battle.


Kanogo, Tabitha. Squatters and the Roots of Mau Mau 1905-63. London: James Curry, 1987.

Throup, David. Economic and Social Origins of Mau Mau 1945-53. London: James Curry, 1988.

Throup, David. & # 8220 ; The Origins of Mau Mau. & # 8221 ; African Affairs 84 ( 1985 ) : 399-433.