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Imperial reckoning


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  • 1. Imperial Reckoning
    The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya
    By Caroline Elkins
    Presentation by Margaret Gardner
  • 2. Colonization
    Uganda Railway, 1896
    Government urges thousands of settlers to come
    Economy based on exporting settlers products; put their needs above natives
  • 3. Colonization
    Kikuyu: Kenya’s largest ethnic group
    Settlers push them off their land
    Force into wage labor economy, reservations
    Squatters: sharecroppers off reservations
    British appoint chiefs; never had them before, unwelcome
    Kikuyu Central Association (1920s)
    Jomo Kenyatta
  • 4. Rebellion
    Begin to mobilize after WW II
    Begin oathing in 1943
    Form Mau Mau- insurgents fighting for Kikuyu independence
    October 7, 1952: Mau Mau kill Senior Chief Waruhiu, Governor declares State of Emergency
    Kenyatta + others arrested, power passes to younger, more violent radicals
  • 5. Rebellion
    Takes 2 years to put down 20,000 guerilla insurgents in remote forests
    Less than 1,900 British/loyalists killed
    British report over 11,000 Mau Mau killed, probably much higher
    Media portrays as savages
  • 6. Rebellion
  • 7. Reaction
    State of Emergency 1952-1960
    Detain 1.5 million, about 90% of Kikuyu population, for over 8 years
    Goal is to re-establish colonial authority
    “Big Brother” psychology
  • 8. Reaction
    Ship squatters back to already overcrowded reserves
    Physically incapable of sustaining everyone
    Make Transit Camps: quickly become overcrowded
  • 9. Screening
    Brutal torture/interrogation
    Forced to confess Mau Mau affiliation
  • 10. Rehabilitation
    Detained without trial
    A few Christian missionaries/Opposition Labor MPs start to speak out against treatment of Kenyans
    Create the Pipeline
    Effort to stop overcrowding in detention camps
    Divided into softer and hardcore Mau Mau
    Had barbed wire village for women and children
  • 11. Life in the Camps
    Disease, starvation/ malnutrition, overworking, physical/sexual abuse, and extortion were all common
    Some confessed, became informants, or became fundis
    Prisoners secretly exchanged news, held oathing ceremonies, prayer sessions, and classes
  • 12. The End
    Missionaries, aid workers, and a few politicians speak out against brutality in Kenya
    Government covers up, makes excuses
    March 4, 1959: Hola Massacre
    10 hardcore detainees beaten to death
    British claim they died from water contamination
    Independent investigation exposes the truth, other claims of brutality are now taken seriously
    December 12, 1963: Kenya becomes independent, Jomo Kenyatta is the first President