Imperial Reckoning

imperial reckoning

  • demonstration effect
  • Interrogation
  • mass deportation
  • paramilitary groups - home guard
  • terror
  • catastrophic dehumanization
  • ineffectiveness
  • concentration camps - pipeline
  • decentralization


  • interogation by british during Mau Mau emergency
  • all Kikuyu suspect, indescriminately targetted

mass deportations of Kikuyu

  • interrogated all deported as they passed through system
  • focused info on political wing, supporters in populace
  • white settlers looked down on africans - inferior - virulent racism,
  • the British perceived that they had a right to be there

vigilance committee

  • paramilitary group
  • all aspects of british colonial organization involved in interrogations
  • british military, settlers, colonial officers, local police, etc.

extremely brutal interrogations

  • castration
  • burns
  • interrogators were fucking crazy
  • they justified brutality by being able to tell beforehand who is a Mau Mau, who isn't etc.
  • 15 state sanctioned interogation centres existed
  • others tacitly approved but technically illegal interrogation centres existed
  • British administrators were dependent on brutal tactics for all the information they collected about Mau MAu activities

Home Guard

  • militias were formed by chiefs to protect themselves and their families against Mau Mau
  • these became officially sanctioned 'Home Guard'
  • refusal to serve in the Home Guard meant you were a Mau Mau
  • Home Guard did not differentiate between Mau Mau fighters and civilian population
  • catastrophic dehumanization - they are all savages
  • massacres were state sanctioned/induced dehumanization
  • the home Guard took a perverse pleasure in interrogation methods

but terror wasn't working

  • the are still able to supply the Mau Mau's through intricate networks
  • the insurgents used children as informants and suppliers
  • so the british turned up heat
  • they appropriated property of suspected Mau Mau sympathizers
  • interrogations lost pretence of info gathering became centered around retribution
  • used interrogation as public spectacle - terrorizing

losing the thin venire of legal basis

  • the law was only used in one or two cases to check the torturers
  • only the lowest ranks were charged,
  • colonial structure left untouched
  • many argued british law shouldn't be applied to insurgents- don't give them same rights
  • this became hardly a secret in the local and british press

fear of torture worked

  • it was effective in getting information on Mau Mau activities- huge amounts of info

special emergency courts

  • though the number that went through this was few compared to the number of interrogations and violence by Home Guard

this is an example of ethnic cleansing on the part of the british - 100 000 -300 000 dead.

odd tension with british arguing they are civilized and better than the africans,
They reasoned that they deserved to be there, to help the african, and the horrible things they are doing to maintain civilized society

detention camps

  • not designed to exterminate like Nazi,
  • they were centres of torture, forced labor, and control
  • all suspected Mau maus sent to them
  • torture and forced labor reduced the mau mau to appear like the animals british said they were
  • this confirmed british civility

operation anvil

  • british purge Nairobi of all kikuyu living within its limits - operation anvil
  • ended up at screening camps - author calls british gulags
  • Nairobi was centre of Mau MAu civil/political support
  • moved 50 000 people - 20 000 to the detention camps, 30 000 back to reserves

Swynnerton Plan

  • The plan was to turn the local farming into large scale industrial farming -
  • Kikuyu reserves were growing because people were being repatriated there,
  • but land wasn't expanded because Mau Mau demands couldn't be acceded to - so needed to increase agricultural productivity…
  • consolidate land holding, move people into areas that were drought prone, malaria infested -
  • dispossess poor farmers of their land, give it to rich (productive) farmers - create a landless class
  • use mau mau suspects as forced labor teams in building agricultural development
  • thus more detention centres were needed
  • camps were not adequately prepared for the numbers of detainees

The Pipeline

  • a system of detention, interrogation, prison, and work camps to deal with kikuyu - mau mau fighters, supporters, etc.
  • typhoid epidemic in camps, some were there 1 year after Nairobi before processed
  • colonial authorities covered up the horrible conditions in the camp, lying about them to press and to house of commons
  • examples of detention camps - Manyani, Mackinnon Road, Langata
  • the pipeline was required to break the back of the Mau Mau, and keep in place the apartheid-like operation of the Kenyan Colonial system.
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