Clio Edition 4 - page 4

George Orwell once described the British and their Empire
as “A dull, decent people, cherishing and fortifying their
dullness behind a quarter of a million bayonets.” The British
Empire oversaw some of the bloodiest oppression seen in
recent history, whilst attempting to preserve their rapidly
crumbling empire. These atrocities are often omitted from
the history of a country which in modern times likes to see
itself as a pinnacle of freedom and liberal values. One of
these, which is only just being addressed, is the Mau Mau
rebellion of 1952-1960.
Kenya had seen British colonial occupation since the late
19th century and was transformed into a crown colony in
1920, with a population of 9,651 Europeans by 1921 due to
extensive migration, mainly by farmers searching for a better
life. Throughout this time,
there were multiple events
of noticeable resistance
to British colonial rule,
such as the Nandi revolt
of 1895-1905. The Kenyan
people at this time were
denied proper political
representation, and
were ostracized by much
of the White Kenyan
population who formed a
ruling minority. In order
to develop an effective
settler economy, land
was appropriated from a
number of tribal groups,
but especially the Kikuyu,
who lost 284 km2 of land, in order to redistribute it amongst
settlers. The Kikuyu thus resented both the loss of their
land and the poor treatment and wages they were given as
workers to the settlers. 1944 saw the formation of the Kenyan
The Mau Mau
By Lily Easton
Mau Mau suspects in
Nairobi, 1952
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