The roots of Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war lie in the Colonization of Kenya by the British which saw the introduction of the standard Colonial Economic model characterised by Land dispossession, new Taxes and a transition towards African wage Labour was introduced.
The introduction of the Colonial Economy, in particular, land dispossession created discontent which laid the foundations for Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war because African Tribes such as the Kikuyu were deprived of long held Cultivated and Grazing lands.
Before the outbreak of Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war, initial attempts at seeking reform of the Colonial system rather than outright revolution were made through the Nationalist Kenya African Union.
However, he British did not grant the Political and Economic concessions sought, with the result that the Kenya African Union became radicalised since outright Revolution seemed to be the only viable solution after the failure of reforms;
The failure of reforms thus led directly to the outbreak of Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war.
Outbreak Of Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war
The year 1952 marked the outbreak of Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war.
Attacks on British and collaborating African Administrative Officials were met by a British Declaration of a State of Emergency, with British troops being dispatched to Kenya.
Suppressing the Mau Mau resistance was a brutal affair with atrocities being committed by both sides.
Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war targeted African Loyalists like the Home Guard, Settler Militias and Colonial Army Units.
The British countered the Mau Mau resistance war with both conventional Military tactics and Psychological Warfare in the form of Propaganda portraying the Mau Mau rebellion as depraved and barbaric.
By 1957, the Mau Mau resistance war had been effectively brought under control with the State of Emergency being revoked in 1960.
Only 3 years after the outbreak Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war however, Kenya received its independence from Great Britain with Jomo Kenyatta serving as the First President of the newly liberated Kenya.
In the final analysis, whilst the Mau Mau resistance war may have initially seemed a failure, it clearly paved the way for Kenya’s independence, and it is unlikely that Kenya would have obtained its independence in 1963 without the contribution and disruption to British Colonial Rule posed by the Mau Mau resistance war.
Causes For The Immediate Failure Of Kenya’s Mau Mau Resistance War
Whilst Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war cannot be viewed as a total failure, it probably did not lead to the immediate overthrow of the British Colonial Government due to a combination of British Military superiority and division amongst African Tribes.
Kenya as a British Protectorate was governed by the system of Indirect Rule which exploited Tribal divisions amongst Africans by granting more privileges and rights to those who collaborated with the system. In Kenya, this was symbolised by the Loyalist Home Guard that fought alongside the British Army.
Despite these obstacles, the Kenya African Union inherited the legacy of the Mau Mau resistance war with the arrival of Kenyan Independence in 1963, shortly after the suppression of the Mau Mau resistance.
For this reason, Kenya’s Mau Mau resistance war cannot be regarded as a complete failure.
One of the most charismatic leaders to come out of the Mau Mau resistance war was captured Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi, and in death he has remained an inspiring symbol of not only the Mau Mau resistance but African resistance to Colonial Rule in general.