The Brutal Mau Mau Uprising - Colonial Crimes in Kenya

The Brutal Mau Mau Uprising - Colonial Crimes in Kenya

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00:05
the actions of the british empire are numerous and complex lasting hundreds of years and subjugating millions of lives as the days of the british empire were coming to an end there were those in power still clinging to the glory days this can perhaps be seen in the mao mao uprising in kenya a prolonged and violent resistance to british rule by the kenya land and freedom army was met in turn with extreme methods to subdue including torture mass imprisonment and mutilation
00:37
in today's video we will explain the causes of the mao mao uprising how it was dealt with by the british and the victims of the brutal methods employed in order to understand the maumau uprising we must first begin with the situation in 1945. the kenyan soldiers who had returned home after the second world war were made redundant and they began to realize they had not fought for land or freedom they had fought for the right of the white settlers to continue to exploit
01:08
the rich agricultural potential of their home demand for cash crops grew but black kenyans were forbidden to grow them for themselves earlier methods of taxing black kenyan's homes and forcing native kenyans to become wage libras on land seized by the government created wealth for the white settler and resentment among the native kenyan there was no representation for the new class of people that had been created and little opportunity to earn any land
01:39
legal challenges to the validity of land seizures were nearly always ignored it is not at all surprising that many turn to other avenues for reform the mao mao movement was the british name given to the kenya land and freedom army or klfa and kenya african union kau it's important to know that mao mao does not mean anything other than as an invented word by the british i used the term in this video for the
02:11
group who fought against the british during the uprising the klfa styled themselves as a brotherhood made up mainly of the kikayu meru and embu people through rituals known as earths members were bound together by not only traditional values but in the struggle to liberate kenya from british rule on the kikuyu reserves land disputes were commonly resolved with earths used as a way to prove ownership in a form of
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affidavits for example an earth may have been along the lines of if this land is not mine may this earth kill me these oaths were a way to cross cultural differences and unite different peoples in one common cause and were often tailored to include ethno-specific items of importance the first earth to be taken was the earth of unity among the fighting to remove the british from kenya one way to equate this to a british practice is swearing on the bible to fight for queen and country
03:13
some of the earth's undertaken involved participants drinking each other's blood to the british rulers this merely confirmed their belief that the kenyans were savages in need of rule and that these earths were bringing back the savage nature of the native that the colonialism was there to save them from as stated earlier mamao was the name given to the various nationalist groups working towards independence often with drastically different methods
03:44
the kau was founded in 1944 with a view to peacefully achieve independence for kenya through protest the largely peaceful kau fought against british rule but they were seen to be the same as the more militant klfa the president of the kau jomo kenyatta rallied against lumping the relatively peaceful kau and the militant kfla together but this fell on deaf ears though he had very
04:14
little support for the violent methods this did not matter to the british the moderate policies and the methods of the kau started to lose appeal and the more militant members of the kau started to warm to the more violent methods the kfla sought to commit as many kikuyu to their struggle and would force others to commit an earth to remove the british oppressors with oaths to do whatever it took which included murder those that refused to take part in the
04:46
earth's were seen as loyalists and were violently attacked and often brutally killed their bodies mutilated and left on display for all to see attacks on white settlers were relatively rare but started to escalate towards the end of 1952 the new british governor of kenya evelyn barring was not properly apprised for the situation barring started his role largely blind to the bubbling crisis thanks to the inaction of the previous governor philip michael
05:17
on michael's retirement settlers fearing the nationalist intentions lobbied for a state of emergency to suppress the movement for self-governance not long into bahrain's new role a british loyalist and outspoken critic of the kenyan nationalist chief weruhi was ambushed and shot to death the state of emergency was put into place on the basis that revolution was inevitable which was feared to lead to a series of reprisals between the white settlers and kenyans
05:48
although intended to last for just a few weeks the state of emergency granting the british sweeping powers lasted for the duration of the crisis jomo kenyatta along with the other moderate leaders were arrested and remained imprisoned or in exile for the duration of the crisis despite being tipped off to the impending arrests some moderate leaders of the kau submitted whereas the more militant leaders fled to the forests convinced that violence was the only way
06:19
to achieve self-governance with the moderate leaders removed the more militant minds had control of the movement fellow kenyans were the main targets with around 2000 killed by the maumau attacks throughout the uprising their primary target was the hum guard kikayu who were loyal to the british and worked as colonial soldiers or police attacks such as the larry massacre were vicious and claimed the lives of around 90 people and many more maimed
06:50
homes were set on fire and as the people attempted to flee they were cut down with impunity one survivor are called fleeing her home with her children only for them all to be hacked down as she lay on the dirt she recalls setting down one of her wounded children next to her attempting to comfort the child by saying in a moment of despair i will die here and you will die here thankfully the family survived the attack but the attack on larry was one
07:20
of the worst individual attacks larry was targeted as many of the men from the village were part of the home guard and deemed loyal to the british empire in total around 100 white settlers were killed during the uprising in a series of brutal killings one of the most gruesome attacks was the murder of the rook family roger rook was hacked to death outside his farm his wife esme was a doctor and she was also pregnant at the time she and one of
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the african servants left the farm to help him only to suffer the same fate their six-year-old son michael hid upstairs but he was found and butchered the pictures of the rook family shocked the white settlers for fear that they could be next rumors circulated that one of the rook's servants had been part of the maumau group that had killed them this only exacerbated the distrust farms became fortresses as settlers armed themselves
08:23
trust all but evaporated with the fear that any of the kikuyu could be part of the maumau in a bid to deal with the concerns of the white settlers colonial authorities responded by suspecting any kicker you as a potential threat operation anvil commenced in april of 1954 and targeted nairobi a suspected base of mao mao operations british troops rounded up 30 000 kikuyu who were then screened and grouped into
08:55
three categories from black to white whites were considered to have recanted their oaths or had never taken an earth and these people were resettled in fortified villages surrounded by moats fences barbed wire and was under constant guard the policy of villagization concentrated the entire population stripped them of their farms and destroyed their cultural way of life in all around 450 000 kenyans were
09:27
interned those considered black were kikayu who refused to recant their oaths they were sent to detention camps until they could be turned in the terms set by the british authorities from black to white as more and more kikayu were sent to these types of camps and villages the logistical support for the klfa was broken by 1956 the threat had all but faded the british then had to deal with those unwilling to renounce their oaths the 20
09:59
000 suspects still held in the detention camps they were a potential problem further down the line as the unbreakable oaths were seen as the sole cause of the issue one of the most common methods to break the will of the maumau earthkeepers was forced labor the pre-existing forced labor system was drastically expanded prisoners would be sent to work on farms owned by white settlers usually to repair the overworked soil or to farm the very cash crops they
10:31
themselves were prohibited from growing for those that were still unwilling to give up their earth or willing to do any forced labor a procedure called compelling force was employed this was developed by a man named john cowan he was the head of the marway prison camps firstly the prisoner would be shouted at by the guards and other kikayu whilst being beaten for not being willing to renounce their oaths it is important to remember that these were political prisoners refusing to
11:03
work through non-violent means yet the goal was to break their spirits we have the testimonies of those who experience life in the prison camps whilst the official guidance was to employ shouting and light beatings the guards often used much more violent methods paul nazily was arrested and sent to a detention camp as a kicker you nationalist a few days into his imprisonment he was stripped naked and forced onto the ground
11:34
his legs were pulled apart and tied with chains they then grabbed his hands and pinned them down into the dirt paulo was then castrated with metal pliers wambagu wanayinggi was a member of the kau but never took an oath he was imprisoned from 1952 until 1961 he recalls during the time seeing prisoners being singled out and beaten to death by british officers with help
12:04
from the home guard on many occasions he was denied food and could go without substance for as long as 12 days he would be hung upside down by the ankles and beaten whilst cold wart would be poured all over him most grotesque was the treatment of jain muthuni mara who at age 15 was arrested for assisting mao mao fighters by bringing them food upon reaching the katithi screening camps she was taken to a tent for
12:35
interrogation she was surrounded by four guards who under the direction of a british officer held her down a glass drinking bottle was filled with hot water and was forced into her genitals they did this as she was interrogated as to whether she had taken an oath the ordeal lasted for 30 minutes and as she lay there she witnessed the same torture inflicted on other women these victims were part of a civil
13:05
lawsuit against the british government that in 2012 succeeded in their claim for compensation and recognition for the crimes committed in the name of suppressing the maumau uprising these three people well into their 70s and 80s were but three of a group of over 5 000 people who suffered similar treatment and were awarded compensation by the british courts this was a long legal battle where the british government refused to accept
13:36
liability and avoided the release of documents that had been hidden from kenya detailing the uprising these methods culminated in the incident at holler in january of 1959 80 men who had peacefully refused their work detail were taken out of the camp surrounded by armed guards 30 men armed with batons beat them from 8 am to 11 30 am 11 men were beaten to death and 60 in serious conditions
14:09
one of them was wambagoo who was beaten unconscious initially the details of the deaths were covered up and said to be caused by drinking tainted water the true story did eventually reach the british public who viewed the british colonial forces as savages it highlighted the fact that these kenyans were actually fighting for the right of self-governance within weeks those who were still imprisoned were released regardless as to whether the all-important earth had been recanted
14:41
kenya was supposed to be the crown jewel in the british empire a country where the british settler could live a comfortable and profitable life at the expense of those whose home it truly was there is no denying that the kfla earned their reputation for violence and the crimes committed should not be glorified but these crimes should not be seen in a vacuum and instead an escalation of cycles of violence and oppression
15:11
it was not long after in 1963 that kenya obtained its independence with jomo kenyatta as its first prime minister and later president although some semblance of justice and recognition were delivered in the 2012 court case the level of secrecy surrounding some of the empire's actions hidden by subsequent governments perhaps demonstrates a reluctance to accept the british government's past the official death toll was around 100 white and
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asian settlers and 20 000 kenyans this figure is contested with some historians asserting the death toll could be in the hundreds of thousands the mao mao uprising could be seen as what length the british empire was willing to sink to to retain its fading power and the violent lengths people are willing to go to you

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