Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Mau Mau Uprising

Fighting colonialism

The long shadow of colonialism was still very present last week in Nairobi when William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, apologised  for the atrocities committed against members of the Kenyan resistance movement known as the Mau Mau in the 1950s on behalf of the British government.
This was a great victory for those 200 elderly members of the Kikuyu people who travelled to the Kenyan capital and, no doubt, the first of many other similar cases in which the UK will have to apologise and compesate financially victims of similar cases of torture and ill-treatment.

The Mau Mau Rebellion was an anti-colonial movement that fought the British in Kenya; like many other African nationalistic movements of that time, their aim was to send the white colonisers back to Europe and take their own destiny in their hands as they had become politically aware of a situation that was oppressing them in their own native land.
By applying the old 'divide and rule' technique, the British were able to undermine the Mau Mau, so widespread support for their cause was never really achieved.
The rebellion was finally crushed by 1956 but the way for a process that would lead to the eventual  Kenyan independence had been somehow paved with this uprising whose cause and brutal treatment received is now acknowledged.
It has taken 60  long years for a senior member of the British government to apologise, but future expressions of regret will be heard again.